According to a poll conducted by the Inquirer and published yesterday, more than half of all Filipinos consider their family to be "poor." The article notes that the result is several percentage points higher than that of the poll they conducted one year ago, and goes on to blame fairly steep hikes in the costs of food, gas, and electricity over the last year.
There are two-room shacks in Cabanatuan housing extended families -- I ride by them on a regular basis. There are also large, elaborate haciendas, mostly behind the walls of exclusive subdivisions with security teams. The difference between rich and poor seems starker to me here than in the U.S.; while the rich in my native country do have a knack for keeping the extent of their wealth hidden from the plebs, this starkness has more to do, I think, with just how poor the really poor are here.
And the ones in the middle, the entire spectrum of the middle here, seem to work very hard to keep themselves from falling out of the middle. As in the U.S., there are folks working two and even three jobs here. And with most there is always an eye out for a better opportunity, a better salary. Charles Escano, whose wedding I attended, is leaving Fred's to work in a printshop in his hometown of Talavera. As he said to me, he'll save P100 in commuting expenses each day he works, and he expects to make P13,000 a month in the printshop, compared to the P11,000 he currently earns at Fred's. The work will be more arduous, but his new family is already starting to grow!