The Philippines Moves Forward – Aired December 2012
The world’s second-largest archipelago, the Republic of the Philippines is located in Southeast Asia. It is divided into three distinct administrative and economic regions.
The capital city is Manila.
A heightened sense of optimism and change is sweeping the Philippines. Once known as Southeast Asia’s economic laggard, the Philippines of today is trying to bring in the promise of clean politics and national prosperity. In 2010, Benigno Aquino won a landslide victory to become the nation’s 15th President. He inherited a nation entrenched in poverty and a government plagued by corruption. While he isn’t immune to criticism, the Filipino people are giving the President a chance to finally bring change to the republic.
Cuts in interest rates, low inflation, and the government’s plans to spend more aggressively are renewing investor confidence. Doing business in the Philippines is not without its challenges, but it is now one that is more transparent and open. Despite the negative impact of the global economic crisis on the country’s export industry, the Philippines has performed better than its regional neighbors. In 2010, the country’s real GDP increased by 7.6 percent, its highest in more than 30 years. The International Monetary Fund estimates the Philippines’ GDP at 216 billion dollars in 2011.
The Philippine government realizes that simply relying on domestic sources for capital does not improve its liquidity position, prompting a strong push for foreign direct investment into the country. Grand reforms are already pursued by the administration to trigger change further through more efficient business processes and a level playing field. For many market players, the good governance thrust has been beneficial. An increase in government spending under the public-private partnership program is likely to stimulate economic growth in 2012.
The Philippines is tacking its political, social and economic problems head-on. The Philippines was one of the richest countries in Asia in the 1950‘s, second only to Japan, but has never really been able to achieve the growth of the Asian Tiger nations. Has the Philippines finally turned a sharp corner?
A recent World Bank report states that poverty has remained at about the same level during the last decade, with a little over a quarter of the population below the poverty line. Many corporations in the country are now implementing social programs that benefit the poorest of the poor. The Philippines is one of the premier centers in Asia for research, training, and advocacy in corporate governance matters.
With approximately 95 million people, the Philippines is the 12th largest country in terms of population, and the local Commission on Population is expecting this to increase to 101.2 million by 2014. Domestically, the government is investing in education programs to raise the quality of its human capital.
The Philippines has a big talent pool, with 11 percent working abroad, making overseas remittances an integral contributor to the nation’s GDP. Filipinos fill a global demand for added-value positions that involve technical competency and English proficiency.
The 21st-century has been defined by Asian political and economic dominance. The Philippines is making sure it is not left behind, and more and more Asians, and executives in particular, are choosing the Philippines to provide the educational backbone to their career growth.
Being an entrepreneur in the Philippines means tapping into a latent consumer market of almost 100 million people and the entire ASEAN community.
The province of Palawan. Known as the Philippines’ final frontier, it is the country’s most sparsely populated region and one of the most enchanting places on the planet. It is also a potential goldmine for one of the world’s most precious resources: hydrocarbons.
The groundwork is now being laid for a more stable and profitable oil and gas industry by opening up production blocks in regions such as Palawan, which stretch far into the West Philippine seas. Several multinational companies have reported considerable progress in both surveying and exploration of the country’s hydrocarbon deposits.
7,107 islands, most of them uninhabited. The Philippines has the capacity and potential to become one of the most prominent tourism destinations in Asia. The
government has revised a development agenda that identifies segments with high potential, one that focuses primarily on expanding neighboring Asian markets.
What drives people to return time and time again is the intrinsic human experience. Forbes Magazine called the Philippines the “friendliest country in Asia”. And the everpresent smile and constant happiness of the Filipino people, even in the face of adversity, is contagious.
A strong national identity combined with 300 years of Spanish rule and 50 years of American occupation have defined the Filipino people. Although famous for its tropical islands and turquoise waters, the Philippines offers an eclectic mix of landscapes and destinations. Variety is the spice of life here, and exploring it is truly a privilege for travelers. An international marketing campaign headed by the slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” was launched with great success. While the last decade has not been kind to the country’s tourism image abroad, the government is counting on Filipinos to be the nation’s prime ambassadors.
The Philippines is experiencing a political and economic resurgence that, when followed through, will turn the nation into the global player that it aims to be. It is not just learning from the mistakes of the past but also driving the present with good governance and business prudence. The world watches as the Philippines moves forward.