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Filipinos practicing how to live rich

We Filipinos have always wanted to be rich. We’ve been practicing how to live rich.

We’ll be an upper middle-income country this 2023, Marcos Jr. beams. Wow, next step: high-income.

We Filipinos have always wanted to be rich. We’ve been practicing how to live rich.

Only last Christmas we were buying onions at PhP780 a kilogram, 22 times the world price. Yayamanin!

Before that, we splurged on laptops for 68,500 public school teachers. We weren’t content with low-end models that went for only PhP35,046.50 apiece. We opted for high-end, PhP58,300.

Never mind the gadgets’ slowness, taking an hour or so to boot. We had to enrich the pobresito suppliers. Never mind that only 39,583 teachers received freebies. The 28,917 others can buy their own. We’re rich, right?

And before that, we lavished PhP42 billion on pricey pandemic supplies. One-third went to Pharmally’s Chinese traders. They worked so hard while we rich folk idled in lockdowns.

World Bank defines upper middle-income as economies with GNI of US$4,096 to US$12,695. In today’s weak PhP54:US$1, that’s PhP221,184 to PhP685,530 annual income per Filipino. Peanuts for the Customs clerk who drives a Porsche.

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Only last 2021 we were lower middle-income. Per capita was only US$3,640 or, at PhP50:US$1 then, PhP182,000. Que barbaridad, barato!

If we’re to be upper middle this year, we should stop thinking mendicant. Department of Health must reject COVAX’s one million free bivalent COVID-19 jabs. Following the law of self-fulfilling prophecies, thinking poor will make us poor.

Our economy in 2022 grew 7.6 percent, highest in 46 years. We outdid our ASEAN neighbors, Malacañang trumpets. Oh ‘di ba?

Don’t listen to naysayers who remind that the 7.6% came after our economy’s worst contraction since the War. Or, that the top nine Filipino oligarchs are wealthier than our population’s bottom half, 55 million of us 110 million.

We’re so rich we can give away fish to Hainanese who can afford only steamed white chicken. Tatay Digong let them trawl in our West Philippine Sea exclusive economic zone. No limit in catch volume, area, or duration. Our 350,000 WPS fishermen stay ashore, lest their anchored wooden boats get in the way of Chinese steel trawlers.

We’re letting Chinese into our East Philippine Sea EEZ, too. Last week our coastguards rescued seven of them whose crippled vessel drifted for days in waters of Guiuan, Samar. “As a responsible member of the international community of civilized maritime nations, we render aid to all judicious users of the seas within our search and rescue region,” we brag.

Those seven were not poaching in but “judiciously using” our 13 million-hectare Benham Rise. Off Guiuan is Homonhon Island, where natives 500 years ago welcomed and fed Magellan and crew. We’re hospitable to foreign tourists, even rowdy ones.

We’re so rich we throw away PhP9 billion on shady voting machines that reinstate political dynasts every election. Plus, P180 billion a year in ghost flood controls for them to pocket instead of solving deadly deluges. We’re establishing a Maharlika Investment Fund with which to squander our wealth. After which, we’ll have Charter Change to keep the dynasts in office forever.

Jarius Bondoc is an award-winning Filipino journalist and author based in Manila. He writes opinion pieces for The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon and hosts a radio program on DWIZ 882 every Saturday. Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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