BASIC ECONOMY

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the occupations of 40 percent of the thirty million people who are employed. Light manufacturing, construction, mining and the service industries provide the remainder of employment opportunities. The unemployment rate is over 9 percent. Fifty percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The Asian financial crisis resulted in a lack of jobs, and the drought period of the El Niño weather cycle has reduced the number of agricultural positions. It is not uncommon for people to "volunteer" as workers in the health care field in hopes of being chosen to work when a position becomes available. People work seven days a week and take additional jobs to maintain or improve their lifestyle or pay for a child's education. Eight hundred thousand citizens work overseas, primarily as merchant seamen, health care, household, or factory workers in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Over Seas Workers (OSWs) have a governmental agency that looks after their interests. Laws govern hours of work, insurance coverage, and vacation time, but workers may be exploited and mistreated. Recruitment centers are found in all large municipalities. OSWs send $7 billion home each year, providing 4 percent of the gross domestic product.


Land Tenure and Property
Nineteen percent of the land is arable and 46 percent consists of forests and woodlands. Deforestation by legal and illegal loggers with no tree replacement has reduced the number of trees. Large amounts of arable land remain in the hand of absentee landowners who were given land grants during the Spanish colonial period. Although land reform legislation has been passed, loopholes allow owners to retain possession. Those responsible for enacting and enforcing the legislation often come from the same families that own the land. Peasant groups such as the HUKs (People's Liberation Army, or Hukbong Magpapayang Bayan ) in the 1950s and the NPA (New People's Army) at the present time have resorted to guerrilla tactics to provide land for the poor. There is an ongoing demand to clear forests to provide farmland. The clearing technique is slash and burn. Environmentalists are concerned because timber is destroyed at random, eliminating the homes of endangered species of plants and animals.


Commercial Activities
The local market is a key factor in retail trade. Larger municipalities have daily markets, while smaller communities have

Philippine children playing on Guimaras Island. Young children typically live with grandparents or aunts for extended periods.


markets once or twice a week. Trade at the market is conducted in a barter system. Suki relationships are established at the marketplace so that the buyer returns to the same vendor. Markets are divided into "dry" markets where clothing and household items are sold and "wet" markets where food is sold. Sari-sariestablishments are small neighborhood stores. They are convenient since they have packaged products and are in the neighborhood, but no fresh foods are available there. In larger towns, supermarkets with fixed prices are adjacent to the market. Electronic equipment, furniture, and clothing have fixed prices and are sold in stores or at kiosks. Shopping malls are found in most provincial capitals. Malls with Western shops are found throughout metropolitan Manila.


Major Industries
Metropolitan Manila is the primary manufacturing area, with 10 percent of the population living there. Manila and the adjacent ports are the best equipped to ship manufactured goods. Manufacturing plants produce electrical and electronic components, chemicals, clothing, and machinery. The provinces produce processed foods, textiles, tobacco products, and construction materials. Manufacturing in the home continues to be common in remote areas.

Trade
Rice, bananas, cashews, pineapple, mangoes, and coconut products are the agricultural products exported to neighboring countries. Exported manufactured products include electronic equipment, machinery, and clothing. The United States, members of the European Union, and Japan are the major trading partners. Imports consists of consumer goods and fuel. The country has mineral and petroleum reserves that have not been developed because of the mountainous terrain and a lack of funding.

Transportation of products is difficult since the highway system beyond metropolitan Manila consists of two-lane roads that are under constant repair and sometimes are washed out by typhoons. Interisland shipping costs add to the expense of manufacturing. Congress, governmental agencies, and the financial community are attempting to find solutions to these problems. The rate of road construction is accelerating and a light rail system is planned. Filipino membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional trade organization, is an important factor in the development of trade policies.


Division of Labor
In rural areas, lack of mechanization causes the entire family to work in the rice fields. Planting rice seedlings, separating them, replanting, and changing water levels in the fields are done by hand and are labor-intensive. Crops such as tobacco, corn, and sugarcane demand full family participation for short periods during the planting and harvest seasons.


In the cities, traditional roles common to industrialized countries are followed. Men perform heavy physical tasks, while women work as clerks and teachers and in health care.