Once considered the most promising economy in Asia after Japan, the Philippines has fallen far behind Southeast Asia's nimble, export-led economies. But things are finally looking up. Tired of being scorned as "the sick man of Asia," President Benigno Aquino III asserts: The Philippines is now "open for real business."
Judging by some very visible changes, Aquino, who has been in office for two years, isn't engaging in wishful thinking. Manila's luxury hotels are crawling with Asian, American, and European investors in search of opportunity. And the city's skyline, a symbol of its past as a home to slow-moving domestic oligarchs, is now dotted with cranes. Foreign direct investment is on track to triple this year, while GDP growth is expected to rise from 3.7 percent last year to a respectable 5 percent in 2012. Karen Ward, a London-based analyst for HSBC bank, speculates that the Philippines, now the world's 43rd largest economy, could be the 16th largest by 2050.
Such optimism is hardly a consensus view. For one thing, the Philippines has yet to deliver an economic performance worthy of an Asian tiger. The IMF forecasts that, while up considerably, Philippine GDP growth will still lag behind that of the other Asian tiger wannabes -- Indonesia and Vietnam -- in 2012. And while foreign investment is rising rapidly, it's from a dismally modest base: Indonesia is expecting to attract some $27 billion this year, compared to roughly $3 billion for the Philippines.
Indeed, the standard indictment of the economy still seems daunting. For one thing, the Philippines is startlingly dependent on alms from abroad. Roughly 11 million Philippine citizens (12 percent of the population) work in a great diaspora, running from Hong Kong to New York and Kuwait, sending home about $20 billion annually to support their families. Nearly one-fifth of all Pinoys, as Filipinos call themselves, still live in deep poverty, which is defined by the World Bank as a purchasing power of less than $1.25 a day. Meanwhile, the WTO reports that "key sectors" of the Philippine economy remain "effectively controlled" by uncompetitive domestic elites.
How would you describe a 'trapo' in Philippine politics?
from Philippine Star
Diony Yap, Bacolod City: Trapo is short for traditional politician. Too much politics makes them stink like soiled basahan, thus the label.
Norberto Robles, Taguig: A trapo is a pragmatist who goes along with the ways and realities of Philippine politics.
It connotes filth
L.C. Fiel, Quezon City: It evolved from “traditional politician,” to “tradpol,” then finally to “trapo,” which now connotes filth. Consider all the dirt that sticks to the pamunas or trapo.
William Gonzaga, Marikina City: Trapo is now a dirty connotation of everything undesirable ascribed to a politician. Lying, cheating and stealing are usual tools of politicians to win and stay in power. Thus, we tend to have no choice but to vote the lesser evil as all bets seem to have the same character traits and the same predilection for malfeasance and misgovernance once in power.