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After the end of World War II, the Philippines became an economic power in Asia second only to Japan, and even won the title of "Four Asian Tigers".
As the capital of the Philippines, Manila is ranked as the most prosperous city in Asia along with Tokyo.
To this day, Manila's affluent neighborhoods are still clean and full of high-rise buildings, casinos, baths, karatv, bus stations, electronic payments and other infrastructure.
But unlike in the last century, the Philippine economy has fallen from the second to the end, and Manila's prosperity is only a symptom.
In Tangdu District, which is adjacent to the rich area, there are still more than 400 million poor people who have no fixed place to live.
So what has happened to the Philippines in just a few decades? Why is the economy declining so fast? What is the life of the people at the bottom of Manila's Tondo district?
First, the current situation of 4 million poor people, with a huge gap in life
On the other side of Manila's affluent neighborhood are inhabited by underclass people from all over the Philippines, all of whom share a common trait: poverty.
Manila has limited jobs, mostly low-level manual labor, with a salary of only 1,000 yuan a month, but five or six people have to live and face the risk of being laid off at any time.
But this kind of work is not available to everyone, and more poor people rely on odd jobs to make ends meet.
With such a difficult employment situation, the people at the bottom can only desperately reduce the cost of living and live like beggars.
A few broken wooden boards, a few pieces of plastic picked up from the garbage dump, and some tools found out of nowhere, were casually fixed to form a simple dwelling, large enough to accommodate a family.
Once you encounter strong winds or heavy rain, you need to pay extra attention to the condition of the house. If it is damaged, it must be repaired at any time.
Although such a house is simple, it is not expensive to build, and it is favored by the majority of poor people.
But as the population grows, living space is shrinking, and to survive in Manila, you have to look for habitat in garbage dumps.
Until the garbage heap was also full, Filipinos set their sights on the cemetery and went to make their home in cement burial chambers, even if they were next to the dead.
Those air-conditioned high-end burial chambers have become sought-after residences.
In addition to shelter, Filipino civilians are in extreme shortage of food.
They can only go to the leftovers selected from the garbage heap, wash the dirty food, add various spices and recook, and it becomes the most common food on the table.
Even such unhealthy leftovers are not guaranteed to be available every day, and it is not certain that you will go hungry due to lack of food.
Eating this junk food for a long time and not getting a good rest has led to the poor physical fitness of the Filipino poor, most of whom suffer from diseases but have no money for treatment, and can only hand over their fate to heaven.
On one side of the street is the paradise of the rich, who live a life of drunken dreams and death every day.
On the other side of the street is the hell of the poor, who eat and live in garbage and graves every day, living a life with no future in sight.
This gap between rich and poor is not unique to Manila, but a true microcosm of the Philippines as a whole.
What is even more embarrassing is that in the fifties and sixties of the last century, the Philippines was the second largest economy in Asia, and the quality of life was far from comparable now...
When the United States colonized the Philippines, in addition to obtaining resources from the Philippines, it also introduced an advanced industrial system into the Philippines and helped the local government build many factories.
After the end of World War II, the Philippines became the first independent country in Southeast Asia, relying on the advanced factories left by the United States to vigorously develop its economy and gradually catch up with other Asian countries.
Especially after the outbreak of the Vietnam War and the Korean War, the Philippines, as the most reliable partner of the United States, sold a large number of domestically made military materials to the US military, which greatly drove the Philippine economy.
So when other Asian countries resumed post-war reconstruction, most Filipinos lived relatively prosperous and stable lives on a fixed salary and commuting daily between factories and families.
Outside of work, Filipinos can also travel around and enjoy a rich spiritual life.
Unfortunately, this did not last long, and the Philippine economy gradually declined, and today it is the lowest economy in Asia.
Once juxtaposed with Tokyo and known as "Little New York," Manila is now a hidden slum.
The reason for the decline of the Philippine economy begins with its long colonial history.
Institutional and cultural shock caused by colonization
Beginning in 1565, the Spaniards gradually established multiple colonies in the Philippines and relied on strong military force to control the entire territory of the Philippines, turning the Philippines into a complete colony.
For more than three hundred years, the Spaniards continued to exploit and oppress the Filipinos, leaving them no wealth except for barely fed, turning them into working machines with numb minds.
More importantly, Spain also carried out a long cultural baptism in the Philippines, promoting Catholicism and eventually replacing the original Filipino faith.
At the same time, Spain raised them as slaves who did not resist and willingly served the Spaniards, so that all children received a Spanish education, completely abandoning their own culture.
So by the time Spain left, Filipinos had become loyal Catholics, revealing the shadow of Westerners in every word and deed.
After Spain, the Philippines fell into the hands of the United States for another 48 years.
It's just that at this time, the Filipinos already have a spirit of resistance, and although their strength is relatively weak, they have already given birth to independent ideas.
In order to better rule the Filipinos, the Americans used money as bait to force some traitors to work for them.
And secretly supported some families that are more friendly to the United States, let the Filipinos manage their compatriots, and the United States only needs to make plans behind the scenes.
Therefore, in order to gain more benefits, many people constantly flattered the United States, helping the invaders to squeeze the people at the bottom of their own countries in exchange for greater power.
Coupled with the introduction of advanced technology by the United States to the Philippines, Filipinos eventually developed a blind worship of the United States.
After the formal independence of the Philippines, the hidden dangers buried by colonization for a long time gradually broke out.
Institutionally speaking, the Philippines' more than 300 years of colonial history has completely lost national sovereignty among Filipinos, and no one has systematically learned how to manage the country.
When national sovereignty was handed over to the Filipinos, no one seriously thought about the international situation, so the Philippines continued to use the system left by the United States and copied the American system completely.
But during the time of American power, some families that had grown strong by relying on the horse had already controlled most of the wealth and resources of the Philippines.
Therefore, in the face of elections, although it claims to be a democratic election, there is an unequal transaction of exchanging money for votes, and the richer and more powerful the person, the more likely it is to get more votes.
Filipino children living in a cemetery
And the more rich people exploit the poor, block the poor from being promoted, and firmly control their wealth, which eventually leads to the rich getting richer and richer, but the poor getting poorer and poorer under exploitation.
To add insult to injury, Filipinos fully comply with Catholic rules when it comes to fertility, giving birth to a child as long as she is pregnant.
But for the poor, population growth exacerbates the cost of living, and already less wealthy families are even more stretched, eventually falling into a vicious circle.
In addition to the harm caused by the colonizers, the problems of the Philippine state itself, as well as the shortcomings of the Filipinos themselves, have also contributed to today's situation.
The state is corrupt, the president is corrupt
As mentioned above, during the Korean War, the Philippines made a lot of money from the industries left by the United States, which also became the backbone of the Philippine economic system.
However, the Filipinos ignore the point that industrial technology needs to be innovated and upgraded, especially the industries introduced by the United States, which are all technologies eliminated by the United States and cannot support long-term development.
With the changes in the world pattern and the increase in the population of the Philippines, the Philippine industry has not been adjusted in time, relying only on the United States, and it will not take long to be eliminated by the world.
After losing the industry on which it depended, the employment pressure in the Philippines increased dramatically, backward agricultural technology could not provide more food for life, the Philippine economy fell sharply, and the living standards of the people also fell sharply.
At this critical moment, government officials still do not realize the seriousness of the problem, and fight every day for their own rights, regardless of the lives of those at the bottom.
Especially during Marcos' presidency, he directly pulled the Philippines into the abyss.
Under the influence of his father, Marcos was interested in politics from an early age, and finally won the election of the president of the Philippines with his own unique means.
At the beginning of his presidency, Marcos started with land reform, education, medical care and other livelihood issues, fought for many interests for the people, and won the support of many Filipinos.
But all this is Marcos's means, and his ultimate goal is to control the wealth of the country and control the power of the entire Philippines.
So before the second election, Marcos used thunderous means to purge his opponent's henchmen and sent troops to suppress all opposition.
In order to remain re-elected, Marcos openly amended the constitution, increased his powers, and placed all his relatives in important positions.
The officials below followed suit, changing the democratic selection of officials to a recommendation and hereditary system.
In addition to his lust for power, Marcos also had a soft spot for wealth.
As long as he can put his income into his personal pocket, Marcos will never hesitate.
In order to have "pension money" after retirement, Marcos even borrowed money from other countries in the name of the state, and then transferred the money to his private bank, leaving the debt to the state.
In this way, although Marcos became rich, the country owed tens of billions of dollars in foreign debt.
The Philippines, which once stood at the peak of Asia, was directly pulled into the endless abyss by Marcos.
Even though the Philippines has saddled with such a huge debt, Marcos still refuses to let go.
He first sent people to shoot the number one opponent in the election, and then sent people to revise the results of the votes in order to justify his re-election.
But Marcos's actions have been spurned by most people, and even his henchmen cannot stand his actions, and finally drive Marcos out of the Philippines by force.
The president, once heroed by the people, ended up being the culprit behind Philippine indebtedness.
And the effects of his administration still haunt the Filipino people today.
Current situation in the Philippines
Marcos has stepped down, but the culture of corruption that developed during his reign remains.
Elections in the Philippines are still about financial strength and power, and even an unspoken rule has been formed to pass on official positions to their descendants.
In addition to the open and secret battles in the officialdom, ordinary people's lives are also in dire straits, and long-term poverty and lack of recreational facilities have added many violent jobless vagrants to society.
Filipinos and police confront
Whether to vent discontent or obtain the necessities of survival, the Philippines has a high crime rate, which seriously affects social stability.
Especially as an economic center, Manila, after seeing the bustling commercial center, and then seeing the garbage heap and tomb in it, it is very easy to cause inner imbalance and derive criminal psychology.
The saddest thing is that every Filipino knows the environment in which they live, but no one without exception wants to change.
People in high positions only look at their own interests, worried that change will affect their wealth, and that change will involve the interests of many people, so most of them are reluctant to be pioneers.
Although the poor know the current situation of the family and know that hard work can earn money, most men are reluctant to work, preferring to let their wives go out to work.
Even men who are willing to work will earn enough money to live on, so they will give themselves a long vacation, or rest at home, or travel.
The poorer the family, the less convinced that learning and hard work can change their destiny.
The only effort they are willing to make to change their lives is to keep praying that the "Lord" will bless them and win a big lottery as soon as possible.
In recent years, more and more Filipino women have gone out to work, and "Filipino maids" have become the main way for the Philippines to obtain foreign exchange, and have gradually become the national business card of the Philippines.
In order to allow the country to obtain more foreign exchange, the Philippines standardized and formalized the profession of "Filipino maid".
Every little girl will receive domestic economics training from an early age, and when she grows up, she will also enter a special vocational school, and only after passing the formal examination and obtaining a certificate will she be able to go abroad to become a "Filipino maid".
Even if the profession is disgraceful and sometimes abused, most people choose to work abroad. Because there is still a large family to support at home, and because the salary abroad is much higher than at home.
As for when the "Filipino maids" can not leave their homeland, it depends on when the domestic economy of the Philippines can recover.
From being an economic powerhouse to being heavily indebted, the current situation in the Philippines is not an overnight occurrence or a single factor.
The struggle on the line of food and clothing, the prosperity of the few and the loneliness of the many.
As an economic, political and cultural center, Manila brings together multiple contradictions and highlights the gap between rich and poor.
In 1989, Marcos, who had brought severe disasters to the Philippines, died, but his son Marcos Jr. became the president of the Philippines in 2022.
And where the future of the Philippines lies, no one can predict.