Working abroad still most Pinoys’ choice to cope with difficult times

Several economic crises have swept over the country and Filipinos time and again fought and emerged survivors. But unlike two decades ago when they took to the streets in desperation because of the twin impact of soaring inflation and shrinking growth, Filipinos, who are now faced with a similar situation, have become more forbearing.

“We’ve gone through a worse crisis before. People are calmer because even if they’re digging deeper into their pockets, it’s not as extensively as before,” Pulse Asia executive director Anna Maria Tabunda told abs-cbnNEWS.com.

Tabunda noted that in 1984, inflation hit a high of 50 percent while the peso was devalued by over 20 percent and the economy contracted deeply.

The country back then, she further explained, was bankrupt and plagued by job layoffs, with the people having the lowest morale until the run up to the 1986 People Power Revolution which saw the demise of the Marcos tyranny.

She reiterated, “The inflation we have now is far subdued. People are seeking other ways, more practical ones that would give them food on the table.”

Inflation, at present, is running at double-digit levels due to skyrocketing food and fuel prices. It is expected to peak at over 12 percent before easing slightly by the end of the year to single digits in mid-2009.

Tabunda cited recent surveys conducted by her agency. She said that in 2006, only about 9 percent of poor Filipinos were willing to join protest rallies. This 2008, even as the poor bear the brunt of high prices, “the number still hasn’t changed.”

Tabunda also said the recent crisis has not stirred massive violent reaction from the public, majority of which, as a new survey showed, still do not trust and approve of the Arroyo government and its social services programs.

The question now lies in what action people would rather take.

Tabunda said the bulk or 32 percent of Filipinos in 2006 said they would rather get busy looking for a job abroad to support their needs while the rest said they would try their luck with betting games (13%). A small percentage (7%) said they planned on engaging in illegal livelihood such as stealing.

Those in the lowest income bracket stick to the basics of reducing consumption of non-food products like electricity or cellular phone credits to be able to eat three complete meals a day. The poorest, who are left with no other choice, crimp on their food spending.

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