The Poverty in the Bicol Region 3

Poverty may be relative. As I told my colleague sometime ago, the Bicol Region may be economically depressed. Infrastructure-wise, it may remain uncomparable to Metro Manila, or least Cebu, or Davao. But if you consider the satisfaction of the Bicolanos with their way of life, the Metro Manilans may even be far below.

In several instances, I noted in my socio-political surveys that the Bicolanos are happy with the way they live their life. From time to time, though, they would air their disdain for some local politicians, or agonize for lack of money. Even then, gusto pa giraray ninda an buhay-Bicolano. This is as opposed to a great number of respondents in Central Luzon or, in Southern Tagalog Region who claimed that given the opportunity, they would rather go to Manila or someplace else.

This, despite the fact that Regions 3 and 4 are economically advanced compared with Region 5? Why?

History has a great statement to tell. One, during the Spanish colonization, Franciscan missionaries were assigned to the Bicol Region. These missionaries are known to have a vow of poverty so it is most likely that they are the ones who influenced more on the ability of the locales to accept what they are and endure some forms of pain and suffering (i.e., rapado kan mga kalamidad arog kan putok kan bulkan asin mga bagyo).

Second, these missionaries did not clearly advocate nor even aid in the accumulation of wealth as opposed to the Dominicans who, intentionally or otherwise, became instruments in the accumulation of large tracts of lands. When ownership of these lands were given to a selected few, an economic change is thereby effected. Kun maurag an administrador kan mga daga lalong minayaman (in general terms) an lugar. Halimbawa, dahil consolidated an kontrol kan daga sa nagkakapirang kamot, madali an pagdesisyon kun ano an puwedeng gibuhon digdi. Puwedeng i-implementar an industrial agriculture, puwedeng i-convert sa housing, etc., etc. Arog sa Hacienda Luisita sa Tarlac. Siring man, mas may poder na magdikta an tagsadiri kan presyo sa mga produkto niya dahil an kawaran o presensiya kan produksiyon niya magkakaigwa ki dakulang impact sa barakalan sa mercado. Ehemplo digdi an sugarcane industry sa Negros.
Pero kun watak-watak an mga tagsadiri kan mga daga, kanya-kanyang kayod an mga ini. Bahala an mga tagsadiri kun ano an gusto nindang itanom, paanong klase ninda itatanom, asin nuarin ninda gustong itanom. The problem with this, magiging market dependent an mga paraomang yan. Dahil kulang ang poder para madiktaran an presyo kan mga produkto nagluluwas na garo lang sinda mga layag– tagasunod lang kun saen paduman an duros. Ini ngonyan an nangyayari sa mga Bicolano.

Siyempre, me negatibong epekto man an konsolidasyon asin limitadong kontrol kan mga daga. Aside from the lack of family-owned property, farmers have to beg the landowners to allow them to till the land. Ini an dahilan kun nata mas dakul man giraray an porsyento kan mga pobreng namamanwaan sa Region 3 & 4 kumpara sa Region 5. This situation, though, is being overshadowed by the fact na mas dakul an kwarta na nagdadalagan sa Central Luzon asin Southern Tagalog asin dahil dakul an nagdadalagan na kwarta, aktibo an ekonomiya. Halimbawa, dahil paid agricultural workers na an mga tawo, igwa sindang income na puwedeng magastos sa mga bagay-bagay arog kan bado, pagkaon asin maski an pagpapairahay kan saindang mga harong. (Dai kaya sinda puwedeng mag-absent dahil kakaltasan an mga sweldo ninda.) Siring man, nakakapag-crear na ki mga service-related occupations arog kan karpintero, barbero, etc. Masulpot na man an mga tindero, labandera, asin iba pa. Dahil makaskas an inaapod na monetary transfer, nagiging aktibo an ekonomiya, minadakula an mga buwis na naglalaog sa mga lokal na mga gobyerno, asin minadakul man an nagagastos para sa serbisyo-publiko.

Sa Bicol, dahil nakagapos an mga tawo sa kanya-kanyang oma, asin limitado lang an dalagan kan kwarta. Dahil siyempre sadit man an mga income, diit lang an minalaog sa kaban kan gobyerno. Thus, economically, minaluwas na talagang pobre an mga tawo.

Dahil sa konseptong ini nabilog an inaapod na self-rated poverty. In the Philippines, one of the institutions that conducts self-rated poverty surveys is the Social Weather Stations o SWS. Dai ninda hinihiling o hinahapot kun pira an income kan sarong indibidwal o kaya pamilya (as opposed to what the National Statistics Office or NSO is doing). An hapot kan SWS: Sa mga nakaaging bulan/aldaw, mas nagpobre ka ngonyan o mas nag-asenso ka? Kung baga, an “feeling” o “pagmati” an pinagbabasehan bako an income. Kung ini ngonyan an basehan, nagluluwas na comparatively lower an poverty rating kan mga Bicolano.

Paano ta ngonyan mapapatunayan na tama ini?

Igwa ki sarong Amerikanong psychologist an nagibo ki pag-aadal manungod sa mga pangangaipo kan tawo. An ngaran niya si Abraham Maslow asin an resulta kan pag-aadal niya inaapod na “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”. An sabi ni Maslow igwa ki lebelo an mga pangangaipo kan mga tawo. Sa pinakaibaba iyo an inaapod na “Biological na Physiological Needs” kun saen kabilang an pagkaon, istaran, sex, sleep, etc. Sa itaas kaini iyo an “Safety Needs” then, ang “Belongingness and Love Needs”, followed by “Esteem Needs”, and on the top, the “Self Actualization Needs”.

If we are going to follow the needs categorization by Maslow puwedeng sabihon na lagpas na an mga Bikolano sa lowest level of needs. Maski kaya tuyo lang an isira o kaya gulay, maogma na an kadaklan lalo na su mga nag-eerok sa rural areas. Mala ta an tinutungan na manok, ordinaryo na lang sainda. May mga kararawan ngani na ipinag-aagad pa ninda ini nin dispensa dahil wara sindang sardinas.

But more than this, Bicolanos are attuned to the arts — singing, dancing, painting, sculpting — which the individuals who still craving for food and shelter cannot even afford. Gustong sabihon, lagpas na sa basic needs an mga Bicolano kaya an konsentrasyon na ninda sa inaapod ng “Arts” ni Plato, sarong Griyegong parasurat, na “occupation for the people of higher status”.

Kun sabagay, an sarong tawong gutom, dai makonsentrar sa pag-bayle pero nata ta igwa sa Bicol kan inaapod na “Mr & Mrs” o sa Rinconada, “Biasan”? Nata ta may pantomina? Baraylehan? O kaya nata ta maski pauno, igwa ki mga Bikolano pa man giraray na nagtitiripon para lang mag-arambugan asin mag-arambagan kan saindang mga komposisyon maging kanta man yan o rawit-dawit? Siring man, yaon man an mga parasurat (an notableng si Ben Santos para sa short stories and Novels), painter (arog kay Gus Albur na bistado sa bilog na kinaban), singer (arog kay Nora Aunor)? An mga artista niyato arog kay Eddie Garcia, Dina Bonnevie, Anjo Yllana, an komedyanteng si Wally, asin dakul pang iba. Puwede ta man siguro idagdag sa listahan an Sili King na si Bert Gonzales na apuwera sa pagiging graphic artist kan mga comics, saro man na designer ki mga jeep. Puwede pang maghalaba an listahan pero an pinakasimple na lang, maglalakaw-lakaw lang kita, mahihiling an mga ini sa mga videoke-han sa mga kanto, sa irinuman sa gilid-gilid, asin iba pang lugar. If these “occupations of the people of higher status” are being done by Bicolanos, puwedeng sabihon na mayaman an Bicol. Bako nga lang sa termino kan income.

On my first trip to Pandan, Catanduanes, I’ve seen a number of women drinking liquor. I was told it was a lambanog or a fermented sap of nipa. Astonished, I asked my mentor, Prof. Alex De Guzman about the scene. His response: Nag-eenjoy lang sinda and that is a common sight here everytime there is a gathering of women.

If the people can even have the time to drink and be happy, then poverty may just be pure economy-based or income-based calculations. Could it be?

Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 1 Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 2

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Hilong pagkamoot

Let’s break first the sad tale of poverty. Bobot Malaga of San Roque, Legazpi City renders a version of one of the songs I used to hear over rounds of bottles of gin. The title is “Hilong Pagkamoot” and is uploaded by “Tagatibo” in You Tube.

The Poverty in the Bicol Region 2

Last Wednesday, the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) released the official poverty statistics. One of the highlights is the increase of poverty incidence in the country to 26.9% for families in 2006 compared to 24.4% in 2003. Gustong sabihon, maski gurano kagayon kan mga uru-istorya ni Presidente Gloria Arroyo manungod sa ekonomiya, dai pa man giraray ini nagtagos sa baba lalo na sa mga puru-pamilya.

Another highlight is the slight improvement of the ranking of the Bicol Region from being the second poorest in the year 2000 to the fourth poorest region. And poverty incidence also decreased by about 5%. The problem, the figures are still almost twice the figures in the national level. Bicol’s poverty incidence in the year 2000 is 45.3% as opposed to the country’s 27.5%; and 40.7% to 26.9% for the regional and countrywide figures, respectively, for the year 2006.

The latest figures also show the province of Masbate sliding in the list from being the poorest province in the country in the year 2000 with 70.2% poverty incidence to the 8th most poor in 2006 with 59.5%. Maogmang mamundo na istorya. Maogma dahil nag-slide pababa pero mamundo dahil nasa top-ten most poor province pa man giraray an Masbate. Kun sabagay, progress is not attained overnight.masbate.gif

Sarong eksplinasyon kun nata nagbawas an poverty incidence sa Masbate iyo an conversion kan Municipality of Masbate to a city. Dahil digdi, nadagdagan an inaapod na internal revenue allotment o ang parte kan local na gobyerno sa income kan nasyon.

Commerce in the area also became active in one way or another. But it only influenced the nearby municipalities. Cawayan, Placer and San Pascual, ang mga munisipyo sa mag-ibong na puro kan probinsiya, dai man naapektuhan. Ini an mga lugar na lalong nagpapataas kan insidente ki kapobrehan sa bilog na probinsya. Mala ta base sa estimate, maabot sa kabangang milyon (487,672) an tutal na pobre sa lugar.

But while Masbate’s poverty incidence decreased, the case is otherwise for Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Albay. Poverty incidence in the Villafuerte’s “Premier Province of Bicolandia” increased from 47.2% in 2000 to 49.9% in 2006 while in the province at the tip of the Bicol Peninsula, the figure hike to 55.3% from 43.5% in 2003.

The land of Sarong Banggi also recorded an increase from 42.7% in 2003 to 46.2% in 2006.

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The increase of poverty figures can be explained by the typhoons that hit the country particularly Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur. Being largely dependent on agriculture, the typhoons messed up the local economy. To note, it was also in 2006 when one of the greatest tragedy happened in Albay — the landslide that buried almost all areas in the southern quadrant of Mayon Volcano leaving thousands of bodies either dead or missing. Similarly, the typhoons also flooded the ricefields of Camarines Sur known for being the breadbasket of the Bicol Region.

(to be continued)

Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 1 Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 3

The Poverty in the Bicol Region

A colleague asked: The Bicol Region is rich in natural as well as human resources. How come it still remains poor?

I immediately remember the stories about Japan after World War II. It was so poor and so war torn, how come the Land of the Rising Sun still became rich?

I was tongue-tied at first. Pero siyempre, the usual reasons: geographic location and, of course, politics. Later, I added: culture and the definition of development.

The region is located facing the Pacific Ocean and within the ring of fire. Mala ngani ta sinasabing sa Bicol, partikular sa Catanduanes, naghahale an mga bagyo. In a sense, ika man daw rapidohon ki dai mababa sa sampulong bagyo taon-taon kun dai ka man nanggad magtios? Kun wara man nin bagyo yaon man an Bulkang Mayon asin Bulusan. Saen ka kaan ngonyan puruton?

Politics is also another explanation. Sa kada probinsiya sa Bicol, mabilang mo lang sa muro an mga bagong tubo na pulitiko. Gustong sabihon, kung an mga tawo o pulitiko na mamayo iyo na sanang iyo, ano kaya an progreso na puwedeng expectaron kan mga Bicolano? Sa Camarines Sur halimbawa, pirang henerasyon na ki mga Andaya, Fuentebella, Villafuerte asin Alfelor an nagkakapot sa representasyon sa Kongreso asin sa mga lokal na Gobyerno? Sa Masbate, pirang Kho, Espinosa asin bistadong mga apelyido an nagpapasuru-surublian sa mga puwesto sa gobyerno? Siring man sa Sorsogon? Sa Camarines Norte?

Sa Catanduanes, medyo nawara na an mga Verceles pero sa mga mayor, halos pararehong pandok pa man giraray. Sa Albay, nawara na man an mga Imperial pero an mga Lagman, yaon pa. In simple terms, even if these leaders rule their respective turfs a hundred years, dai talaga mababago an rehiyon lalo na kung warang bagong idea na malaog — the very explanation why the region still remains the second poorest region (next to ARMM) despite the fact that there are a number of Bicolano leaders who held and are holding significant posts in the national government. Isabay mo na sa listahan an depuntong si Raul Roco, the Aytonas and Zigas of Albay, Villafuerte, the Andayas, Fuentebellas, and even Manny Gaite who just warmed his seat in Malacanang.

Base sa factsheets kan National Statistics Coordination Board, almost half of the Bicolanos are poor. In 2003, the figure was 41%. The highest poverty incidence is in Masbate followed by Camarines Norte. Interestingly, these are the areas where gold mines are located. Kaya an hapot: Nata?

NSCBOne explanation is, wealth is not fairly distributed in these areas. Base sa reports, makukua mo an saro sa mga pinakamayaman sa Pilipinas diyan sa Masbate siring man an saro sa pinakapobre. Sa ibang lugar, arog kan Albay asin Camarines Sur, medyo nakokorehiran maski diit an economic gap between the rich and the poor dahil medyo aktibo an mga negosyo. Yun nga lang, daog pa man talaga giraray kan ibang lugar arog kan Cebu asin Davao. Bayae na an Manila ta talagang aktibo an komersiyo diyan.

Dahil digdi, puwede tang idagdag na dahil iyo man sanang iyo an mga pulitiko na nagkakapot, an mga polisiya pag-abot sa ekonomiya dai man na mga pagbabago. Siyempre ibang iristoryahan an Naga City na sa ngonyan, lalong nagtataas an levelo kan pag-asenso. Apwera kaya sa aktibong mga negosyante, medyo liberal man an polisiya kan lokal na gobyerno pag-abot sa investments. Mala ngani ta in a span of a few years, apwera sa LCC naglaog na man an SM. Samantalang sa Legazpi, matapos an pagbukas kan Gaisano, wara ng nagsunod. Siring man sa mga siyudad kan Masbate asin Ligao. Ini an dahilan kun nata nasa lowest income class pa man giraray an mga lokal na gobyernong ini.

(To be continued…)

Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 2 Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 3