Rence is a copywriter by day and an aspiring novelist by night. He’s also a contributor to Humaling (, a blog on Philippine culture.

Credit: Hans Olav Lien / Wikimedia

Like every other country, the Philippines is subject to a myriad of stereotypes. From its post-colonial image as an uncivilized nation, to its highly sought pristine beaches, and its image as a poverty-stricken country, this country has a mixed reputation that has often preceded its people.

These stereotypes have been widely documented. A 2014 study titled “Filipinos Depicted in American Culture,” states that Filipinos in the early 20th century (a period when the country was under American occupation) were often dehumanized and depicted as treacherous savages, or portrayed as innocent children in political comics. Today, Filipin@s, and even Americansand Europeans of Filipin@ descent, continue to experience discrimination — ranging from patronizing remarks to blatant racism.

But there are plenty of developments in the Philippines, from its economy to its culture, which we believe the world should also know about.


1. The Philippines might be underdeveloped, but people are working to change that.

If there’s anything as resilient as the Filipino spirit, it might just be the Philippine economy. With 76 consecutive quarters of GDP growth — driven by continuous remittances and a vibrant business processing sector, the country is undergoing a notable transformation, which a major financial institution has even dubbed an economic ‘golden age.’


On a smaller scale, social enterprises have sprung up all around the country, such as Gawad Kalinga, a movement dedicated to developing marginalized communities. Founded by Antonio Meloto, it has expanded by leaps and bounds, with projects implemented in over 2,000 communities, as well as neighboring countries Indonesia, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea.

There are also other major social enterprises who have proven their popularity in the beauty and fashion sector, including eco-friendly personal care brand Human Heart Nature and artisan design house Rags 2 Riches. Both of these companies benefit the local communities who craft their high-quality products.

In a global marketplace where cheap, machine-made products have become prevalent, these enterprises have proven the value of business for a good cause. Fair trade and fair wages guarantee both the quality of their products and an improved quality of life for the people who make them.


2. There’s more to the Philippines than beaches and slums.

Whether it’s a picture-perfect travel guide, or a a grim documentary on Filipin@ slum dwellers, the Philippines is undoubtedly portrayed in a two-dimensional light. Yet there is more to the country than its admittedly gorgeous beaches and deep-rooted poverty.

Go beyond the tourist havens of Boracay and Palawan, and you’ll find all kinds of treasures: church ruins near perfectly-shaped volcanoes, ancient rice paddy structures, and even an underground river.

Hi, Mayon 👋 #volcanoes #mayon #magayon #philippines

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. رودخانه زیرزمینی underground river یک غار آبی است که در جزیره پالاوان فیلیپین و نزدیکی شهر پورتو پرینسسا قرار دارد. این غار به عنوان یکی از عجایب هفتگانه طبیعی دنیا و همچینی یکی از سایت‌های میراث جهانی قلمداد شده است. این غار در دل کوهی از جنس سنگ آهک قرار گرفته است و بیش از ۲۴ کیلومتر عمق دارد. بزرگترین تالار غار حدود ۳۵۰ متر طول دارد که یکی از بزرگترین تالارهای غار در دنیاست. تا پیش از سال ۲۰۰۷ که غاری در ایالت یوکاتان مکزیک کشف شد، این غار بزرگترین رودخانه زیرزمینی دنیا بشمار می‌رفت. آب شیرین این غار پس از خروج از دهانه غار به دریا می‌ریزد و بخاطر جزر و مد، تا ۶ کیلومتر آب آن تحت تاثیر آب دریا قرار دارد. برای رفتن به این غار می‌توانید تورهای آن را از شهر پورتو پرینسسا بخرید که حدود نفری ۳۰ دلار است.

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Even Manila, often regarded by travelers as a mere transit point to other islands, is becoming a major destination on its own, with Lonely Planet calling it one of “Asia’s coolest cities.” Against a backdrop of Spanish and American influence, a bustling skyline, and an internationally diverse arts, culinary, and nightlife scene (featured on both the U.S and U.K Conde Nast Travelers), Manila is shaping up to be one exciting metropolis.

Tracings (2018) revolves around the relationships between the body and architecture, both in terms of the everyday and the ideological. For this work, Salvatus invited ‘parkour’ practitioners to engage with three significant buildings constructed in the seventies during the ‘New Society’ period – namely the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Film Center and the Folk Arts Theater. The term ‘parkour’ comes from the French ‘parcours’ denoting route or course. ‘Parkour’ focuses on going from point to point by passing obstacles as quickly as possible without the use of equipment other the body. By inviting ‘parkour’ practitioners to engage with these three constructions, Salvatus aims to unearth new relationships of movement to confront questions of struggle between the body, architecture and ideas relating to these two. _ Join us next week Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 4pm to learn more about Mark Salvatus' work. Artist Talk/ Mark Salvatus: Salvage Projects will be at 1335Mabini Karrivin Palaza, Makati. _

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3. Filipinos are capable of more than just low-cost labor.

Another common image of the Filipin@ is the overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who usually toils away as a maid or factory worker, to help their families back in the Philippines. There are over 9 million OFWs in all six inhabited continents and over $32 billion worth of remittances in 2017. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, over 37.6% of OFWs belong to what the International Labour Organization deems as elementary occupations, such as domestic cleaners to construction laborers. Many of them come from regions surrounding Manila, including Central Luzon and the CALABARZON areas.

But not every OFW is a maid or factory worker, with technicians (5.8%) and professionals (8.7%) making up a considerable fraction of the overseas labor force. From nurses in the U.K, to engineers in Saudi Arabia, as well as seafarers and hospitality professionals on cruise ships, Filipin@s are also contributing to other major industries.

In fact, Prince Philip has pointed out the abundance of Filipin@s in the UK’s National Health Service, joking to a nurse that the country must now be “half-empty.”

Still, this is not to discredit the numerous contributions of Filipino blue-collar workers, contributing immensely to the economy through their families, all while enduring the hardship of being thousands of miles away from their loved ones. Back in the Philippines, this has been famously shown in the 2016 documentary Sunday Beauty Queen, which follows a group of domestic workers in Hong Kong preparing to take part in an annual OFW beauty pageant.

While stereotypes about the Philippines have some basis on reality, the country itself is complex and ever-changing. With many developments bringing about both rapid and gradual transformation, we hope the world gets to see the bigger picture happening back home.


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