Monday, March 8, 2010

Post-trip thoughts

Matt, Serena and I (Aileen) are sitting at our friend's apartment in Manila having a few last San Miguels and some vodka and mango juice.

Earlier this evening, we saw my friends reading our blog; it was a strange experience peering at them peering into how we were peering into their lives. Does that make sense?? If not, blame it on the San Miguels.

Check out today's headline on the Inquirer. Joey Salceda was cited as GMA's top adviser proclaiming to the country that while GDP had grown, the rich-poor income gap has widened. Didn't we have a discussion just like that only a few days ago?

A screenshot of the article is posted here.

Back home

IEDP 2010 has returned to the U.S.! Before we launch into a couple of post-game blogs, let us thank you again for your interest and support.

Now, then, here are a few photos from last week that didn't make it up in real time:

Monday morning: Eric Isham and Laura Rosen confer before a talk at the Asia Foundation:

Thursday morning: Legaspi goes to work

Friday afternoon: Donsol scenes

Saturday morning: Mount Mayon as seen from Legaspi Airport

Saturday afternoon: Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Interviews complete!

Our whirlwind tour of Manila is done, and the students are now enjoying some well-deserved rest after four days of intense work. I was impressed with how diligently everyone had prepared for their interviews. Every policy team knew its stuff, and each one had great questions.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't express gratitude to everyone here in the Philippines who set aside their valuable time to meet with us. We met with so many people who have major responsibilities, and they welcomed us into their offices and took our questions seriously.

I'll write another longer, blog entry later with some more details and observatons about our meetings, but I'll sign off this one by posting a photo from last Sunday that I've been meaning to put up:

That's Alan Deardorff, our favorite trade economist in the world and one of the two faculty members on the trip.

Out of Manila.

After four days of being based in Manila, we're off to explore another part of the country. We left for Albay, a province south of Manila, in the Bicol Region early this morning by plane. This entry is coming to you live from Sorsogon City, where we're looking into a project on remittances run by Dean Yang, a Ford School professor. It is absolutely gorgeous here. Expect pictures of the majestic Mayong volcano soon.

Tomorrow: swimming with sharks. Literally.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 2: An Urban Policy Perspective

Today, several of us (namely the Urban Policy Team, Cree, Kasia, and Tony) got to visit Baseco, which is the largest squatter settlement area of Manila in the Tondo area. We were guided by the local government district (also known as barangays) police members to visit the slum communities. We split into 2 groups and were able to interview residents with the help of Cree and Marco's excellent Tagalog skills.

This was by far the most special moment of the week for me personally because it reminded me of why I wanted to join IEDP and work in the field of development in the first place: to address poverty ramifications in real lives. Visiting Baseco was an integral part of the Urban Policy Team's research and understanding of slums, housing inequality, and the informal sector because we finally got to hear what the community members' experiences are and what areas they seek improvement in.

After Baseco, we visited Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga, an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of the poorest of the poor. After Tony, we met with the National Housing Authority (NHA), which administers the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which is our government program of interest for our policy paper.

Meeting the slum community members, an NGO leader, and the government agency workers was truly a comprehensive and enlightening experience. The different aspects, concerns, and attempts in addressing the issue of poverty and housing inequality were highlighted. Rather than seek a single policy or program to rely on as the "cure-all" to this issue, the team was reminded of the complexities of this field, and how different pieces and sectors must work to make the most of limited resources.

Unfortunately I do not have the means nor time to post photos... but they will be posted soon!

Monday, March 1, 2010

IEDP Interviews: Day One

One of the joys of IEDP is engaging with a variety of policy leaders and officials to gain further perspective on our research. Given that my understanding of the Philippine election process is pretty limited, I sometimes lose sight of how important some of these leaders are!

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to meet with the Honorable Rene V. Sarmiento, one of the Commissioners of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC); he provided some updates on the all-electronic voting process the country will undertake in the June elections.

After our meeting, I asked my colleague Tim, a former Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, to offer up a comparison of an official in the United States that would have the same level of influence as Mr. Sarmiento. His response? "We basically just met someone who's essentially a Supreme Court judge when it comes to defining the election outcome."


So, as you can imagine, our knowledge of this country grows by the moment -- but we're not stopping now. Off to another day of interviews!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tagaytay and Mount Taal

All of us are safely here now!

Before we plunge into our interviews with policy-makers this week, we took a little time today to recover from the flight (nearly 20 hours in the air) and take in some fresh air and sunshine in Tagaytay.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Most of us have landed on Manila tonight!
(Some missed the flight and will be joining us in 3hrs.)
We didn't have time to go around the town today.
But tomorrow is Sunday, and we will visit Tagaytay to see volcanoes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Note Before We Depart to PH

Dear friends and faithful readers,

Tomorrow morning, we finally depart for our trip to the Philippines. !!! After weeks of researching, presenting, and sharing; months of planning and contacting stakeholders; and 10 years of IEDPs before us, we embark on the penultimate stage of our program (our ultimate stage will be presenting our findings to the university community).

We are truly grateful to our many supporters. Financially, we raised enough funds to fully support our program from generous donors by the end of last week. Academically, numerous professors and experts have spoken to us. The likes of Sharon Maccini, Dean Yang, Linda Lim, and Mrs. Weller have enlightened us with their research and knowledge. Our faculty adviser, Tony Chen, has extensively researched various theories and issues of development, encouraging us to examine the broader picture amidst policy team presentations that focused on a specific policy area.

While by no means we consider ourselves to be experts on development in the Philippines, this semester has taught us about the complexities of development, the specificities particular to the Philippines, and the varieties of approaches in policy-making in the areas of economics (FDI, Migration & Remittances), health, human rights, governance, and urban policy.

There is still much more to learn, and what better way than to meet with actual policymakers and stakeholders in the Philippines? As we hear from a wide array of perspectives, including those from the government, civil society, and the private sector, we will continue to blog so that we can share our learnings and experiences there.

Some examples of the stakeholders we will be meeting with include the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the US Embassy, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and many more.

We hope you continue to support us through reading this blog. Your support has been invaluable, and we want to share our experiences in the Philippines with you!


Kristine Chong

IEDP Chair

Businesses Are More Confident in Q1 2010

Today, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas announced an uptick in business confidence. According to the business confidence index, business sentiment became more optimistic in the first quarter of 2010, “rising sharply to 39.1 percent” (1). Second quarter 2010 business confidence index stands even higher, at 52.6 percent. (“The confidence index is computed as the percentage of firms that answered in the affirmative less the percentage of firms that answered in the negative with respect to their views on a given indicator” (1).)

Another Sensational Campaign Ad: Lito Lapid for Senator (!)

(posted on behalf of Aileen):

As an addendum to all the sensational campaign ads we saw on Tuesday, here’s probably the most sensational yet:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

1887 - 2010

Yesterday we learned that a University of Michigan professor was responsible for the US's colonization of the Philippines. He wanted to learn more about the flora and fauna in Palawan and other rural so he lobbied to keep the Philippines under American rule. And for that, our independence!

The first U of M students to visit the Philippines in 1887. A hundred twenty three years later, we'll be sporting visors and sun-block instead of rifles.

(Posted on behalf of Aileen Payumo)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FSPP and PH's Historical Relationship

The IEDP is not the first connection between the Ford School of Public Policy and the Philippines. Besides a rich history of over 100 years between the University of Michigan and the Philippines, the Institute of Public Administration (the Ford School's former name), helped create an Institute of Public Administration at the University of the Philippines in 1952. See more fascinating details here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thank you for your support!

We got some great news this past week -- due to the generous support of our donors, including the Ford School of Public Policy, our entire 27-student-and-faculty team will be traveling to the Philippines with minimal expense.

Thank you all for your consideration and supportive giving -- and for continuing IEDP's long-standing tradition of providing an exceptional learning opportunity for its participants without incurring any financial hardship. It is our hope we make the most of this learning experience, and we greatly appreciate your help in doing so!