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!

Friday, February 19, 2010

PH Election Campaign Kicks-Off

Along the lines of the prior post, here's an intriguing blog article the 2010 elections campaign kick-off, titled "Philippine Election Campaign Starts; Entertainment Industry Threatened."

Great article on the intersection of politics, media, and celebrities.

Philippine Elections Featured in The Economist

One of our very favorite trade economists in the whole world, Alan Deardorff, passes along this article from The Economist with a title that almost says it all about what the magazine thinks of the upcoming election: "Uncrowning Gloria."

And the article comes just in time for the governance team's presentation next week. It's a great read, it's really short, and it comes highly recommended.

Thanks for the heads-up, Alan!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

December Remittance Data Released

On Monday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas announced December 2009 remittance data, calling cumulative remittances from overseas Filipinos “stronger-than-expected in 2009, growing year-on-year by 5.6 percent to US$17.3 billion”(1). According to the bank, December remittances grew by 11.4 percent and amounted to US$1.6 billion. This brings the total for the year to 10.8 percent of GNP.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thank you to our supporters

Thank you very much to everyone who has supported our trip financially through this blog!

So far, we have received $665 from 11 donors.

We appreciate everything that everyone has done to support us -- not just our generous donors, but also the guest lecturers who have come to tell us about their research, all of the people who have come to our FUNdraisers, and certainly all of the visitors to the blog!

Buhay Ng Gangsta

Is it a romantic conceit of the chattering classes to believe that rap is a transnational language of political and social resistance for young men living in the world's toughest and most impoverished neighborhoods? Or is it true?

Whatever you might believe, it's hard to deny that rap is big in the Tondo district, a poor area of northwest Manila. Yesterday, we talked about life in the Baseco Compound, one of several neighborhoods in Tondo. This story, filed by a correspondent for AlJazeera English, gives us a brief glimpse at a community of gangsters-turned-rappers based in Tondo.

According to this article in the New York Times, the gangs of Tondo are the subject of Tribu, a prize-winning movie that is continuing to garner widespread acclaim and attention. Written and directed by Jim Libiran, a television journalist who himself grew up in Tondo, Tribu won the best picture award at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in 2007. The film tells the story of a 10-year-told boy living in a neighborhood caught up in the deadly cross-fire of a gang war.

TRIBU the Filipino Gang movie

MS 13 LA Mara Salvatrucha X3 PHILIPPINES | MySpace Video

This article from reveals that some of the film's stars have gone on to record and produce their own rap songs. OG Sacred, who plays a gang leader in Tribu, is the main force behind up-and-coming rap group Sigaw ng Tundo, whose tuneful and catchy track "Buhay ng Gangsta" is a smash hit on YouTube.

The group has their own web site here.

Smokey Mountain—the singing group

The Urban Policy Team and Professor Tony reminded me of a singing group I adored when I was a kid called Smokey Mountain named after the mountain of trash you saw in pictures this evening. Many of their songs talk about salient Filipino experiences, some of which we talked about in class. Beware of the extreme sappiness of the music, but then again, that too is vital part of the Philippine experience.

Smokey Mountain Roster of Songs:
Mama (About a girl missing her mom who’s working as an OFW abroad):

Paraiso (Literally translated Paradise, it’s about what it’s like to live in Smokey Mountain):

Da Coconut Nut (There’ll be lots of these in the motherland. Be careful you don’t get hit in the head with one of them or you might sound as silly as they do in this song!):

A Better World (Perhaps the sappiest of all the songs, but isn’t this why we’re taking a class such as this, to help make a better world? Special treat: This version is of a reunion the group did many years later.):

(posted on behalf of Aileen Payumo)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is ICT the future of high growth FDI?

Class discussion more than once has converged around the topic of tech-sector growth, since it is both lightweight on the investment side, and an area that the Philippines might have a comparative advantage (//via education + English). Attempting to investigate the possibility for continued FDI growth in the ICT (information and communication technology) sector, I discovered that EIU keeps track of some interesting and relevant indicators. I pulled all the available data for the Philippines, formatting the green (% growth pa) series on the right Y axis. Though prima facie it seems that the mind-boggling growth has already come and gone in the 1990s, it is worth noting that (1) an upward-leaning trend seems to begin at the 2005 trough & (2) 6-7% pa business growth is actually remarkable!

Lastly, I located an interesting report (FDI people READ THIS!) from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP), which in 2007 set the "aspirational" goal of 10% ICT market share stake by 2010. Well, its 2010, and I can't find ICT market share data. I'll continue to look. If you keep it under your pillow, please fax it over.


IEDP Policy team: Urban policy – slum development and land reform

Yr/Program: 2nd year MPP

Area of focus/concentration: human rights, international development

Home State/Country: little hills (Cerritos), CA

Interests: cafes, communities, ideas, stories, typography, theology

What excites me most about PH: reuniting with PH friends; exploring with UM friends; learning more about the complexities and possibilities of development in PH

Will you try balut in PH? once was enough… but this time around, I will if the vegetarians do.

Shout-out: currently lobbying for Team IEDP shirts… suggestions/design submissions welcome. =)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Journalists Killed in 2009

According to CPJ, 71 journalists were killed in 2009, and 33 were dead in the Philippines. This number is unusually high because of the Maguindanao massacre in November. (Even without counting the Maguindanao massacre, more than 100 journalists were killed from 1986 to 2009 in the Philippines.) During the President's election, violent incidents were common in this country. But the gun ban and other security measures should prevent further crime related to the coming election.

Salmat Opens New Office in McKinley Hill Cyberpark

According to a report in the Manila Bulletin, Salmat, a publicly owned Australian business services firm, has opened a new facility in which to base its business process outsourcing (BPO) operations.

The new facility is located in a high-tech business district called McKinley Hill Cyberpark. Other firms with operations there include Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, Safeway, and Western Union. Recently, McKinley Hill Cyberpark was officially proclaimed an Information Technology (IT) Park by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In 2007, McKinley Hill Cyberpark was certified an ecozone by the Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). Companies locating there may enjoy a bevy of economic benefits, including "income tax holidays of up to eight years (and thereafter, payment of 5% tax on gross income in lieu of all national and local taxes and licenses), exemption from duties and taxes on capital equipment, permanent residence status for foreign investors, employment of foreign nationals, and the remittance of earnings from investments – the last of which applies to majority or wholly foreign-owned BPO firms – among others."

The cyberpark is part of McKinley Hill, a mixed-use township developed by the Megaworld Corporation, a publicly listed, Philippines-based company. Megaworld is a pioneer of the "live-work-play" model of development that has proven immensely appealing to the growing Filipino middle class. Megaworld is controlled by "taipan" Andrew Tan, who was ranked by Forbes Asia in 2008 as the fourth-richest man in the country. Tan's holding company, Alliance Global Group, owns a controlling stake of Megaworld.

McKinley Hill is located just south of Bonifacio Global City in the southeastern area of metro Manila.

Developments of this sort may help contribute to economic growth, but can they also help to reduce poverty?

Friday, February 12, 2010


IEDP Policy team: Governance

Yr/Program: MBA 2010

Area of focus/concentration: marketing, the intersection of business and social change, Philippine economic development

Home State/Country: The Philippines, baby

Interests: Beaches, island living, volunteer tourism, all types of food (though I am taking a hiatus from lots of it due to allergies, OUCH)

What excites me most about PH: Family, friends, my people, introducing newbies to the Philippines, whale sharks (!), Pinoy food: Pancit, kare kare, daing na bangus, lechon, the best mangoes you'll ever try, lanzones, chicos...

Will you try balut in PH? If you mean retry it for the nth time, yes. Though I have to admit, after living in the US for 10 years, my palate has become tame, and I am now a little squeamish about it. I no longer eat the (crispy and feathered) whole chick. The yolk and the broth, however, are to die for. Sipping the broth directly from the egg is literally sipping the nectar of life.

Shout-out: Welcome home!!!


IEDP Policy Team: Health

Yr/ Program: 3rd Year; MHSA/MPP

Area of Focus/Concentration: International Health Management

Home State/Country: Yellow Brick Road, USA

Interests: traveling, cooking, guitar, playing football, and reading anything Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote

What Excites Me Most about PH: The sites, sounds, and debauchery that will surely accompany a group of 24 graduate students half-way around the world!

Will You Try Balut in PH: Hell Yeah - and I'll wash it down with some San Miguel

EU supporting anti-extrajudicial killing initiative.

Extrajudicial killings - that is, executions performed by the police or military without the benefit of a trial - are a huge problem in the Philippines. The issue garnered a lot of attention last November when 52 people were killed in a single massacre. 32 of the victims were journalists. The rest were members of a politically important family; the perpetrators were apparently members of a rival family, and it has been alleged that the weapons were provided by the military.

Now, in an effort to promote real justice and free speech, the European Union is contributing €3.9 million to combat extrajudicial killings.

Read the whole article.


IEDP Policy team: Urban Policy

Yr/Program: 2nd Year Master of Urban Planning

Area of focus/concentration: Planning in Developing Countries, Housing, South Asia

Home State/Country: Illinois, US of A

Interests: Playing the guitar, watching the Blackhawks beat up on the Wings, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and speaking Hindi poorly.

What excites me most about PH: Eatin' Balut

Will you try balut in PH? See previous response.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


IEDP Policy team: Economic 1 - FDI

Yr/Program: 1st year MPP

Area of focus/concentration: International Finance / International Development

Home State/Country: Paris, France

Interests: Coffee, finance, theater, politics and punk rock. More generally, finding evidence that American clichés are true (deep-fried mac’n cheeseburger pizzas exist).

What excites me most about PH: Having a first field experience of development, understanding the challenges faced by policymakers and professionals working in development economics, trying balut.

Will you try balut in PH? I eat frogs, snails & goose livers à I’ll try balut.


IEDP Policy team: Urban Policy

Yr/Program: 1st Year MPP

Area of focus/concentration: social welfare policy, urban issues, social justice

Home State/Country: California

Interests: Watching strange foreign films, dancing, playing sports, eating good food, reading, people watching, soaking up the sun anywhere I can

What excites me most about PH: The food... mmmmm, the warm weather, learning Filipino, visiting my grandfather's country, returning to one of the motherlands

Will you try balut in PH? Oh definitely.


IEDP Policy team: Urban Policy

Yr/Program: 1st year MPP

Area of focus/concentration: International Development, Human Rights, Public Health, and Microfinance

Home State/Country: California

Interests: traveling, photography, languages, movies, playing and watching sports, and the outdoors (preferably when its above 50 degrees)

What excites me most about PH: Visiting Southeast Asia for the first time, and gaining an in depth understanding of some of the major issues related to economic development in the Philippines, particularly slums and squatter settlements in Manila.

Will you try balut in PH? Nope, I'm vegetarian.


IEDP Policy team: Human Rights

Yr/Program: 2nd Year MPP

Area of focus/concentration: Human rights, culture, international political decision-making

Home State/Country: Illinois

Interests: Theatre and film, mountains, reading about and visiting sites of urban planning, professional baseball and football, anything involving queso, margaritas.

What excites me most about PH: Face-to-face interaction with professionals who are at the forefront of development policy. The opportunity to conduct a meaningful human rights analysis.

Will you try balut in PH? Not a chance.

Philippines To Sell Samurai Bonds

Bloomberg reports that the Philippines is planning to sell $1.1 billion in 10-year Samurai bonds (i.e., yen-denominated bonds issued by non-Japanese institutions).

The government may be able to pay a very good rate of 2.24 to 2.34 percent for the bonds. Last July, Indonesia paid 2.73 percent on a comparable issuance. The yield over Japanese government bonds has grown since last summer, and some observers believe that demand is rising for emerging market debt.

Also, a portion of the issuance is reportedly guaranteed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The sale will comprise a substantial portion of the $2.5 billion that the government hopes to raise overseas in order to to finance a budget deficit that is expected to come in around $6.3 billion. It raised $1.5 billion in 10- and 25-year, dollar-denominated notes last month.


IEDP Policy team: Governance

Yr/Program: 2nd Yr MPP / MA in Russian & East European Studies

Area of focus/concentration: I’ve recently come to the revelation that all of my main substantive interests are connected by the concept of human rights (political and civil as well as economic, social, and cultural rights). More specifically, the human rights issues that I focus on tend to be international development, education, and democratization. My thesis topic—Roma education in Eastern Europe—tries to pull a lot of these concepts together. Additionally, I have been trying to build upon my quantitative analysis skills while at the Ford School.

Home State/Country: California

Interests: traveling/exploring, finding out how amazing the world/people can be, volunteering, and leaving the world a little better than when I found it

What excites me most about PH: Even though I’ve had an international focus in my studies since my first year as an undergraduate at Berkeley, I’ve never really studied South-East Asia in any depth. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to learn so much about the Philippines, add a new stamp to my passport, and—best of all—pick the brains of important local stakeholders. The sight-seeing doesn’t hurt, either. J

Will you try balut in PH? Nope—I’ve been a vegetarian for many years now, and while I’m technically a lacto-ovo vegetarian, balut seems to cross the line. Generally, I rarely eat eggs anyway, even when they aren’t fertilized. I’d love to try any other veggie-friendly, nut-free food while we’re in the Philippines, though my impression of the cuisine is that vegetarianism isn’t exactly widespread…


IEDP Policy team: Microeconomic Policy: Remittances & Migration

Yr/Program: 2nd year MPP

Area of focus/concentration: Economic development & international development policy

Home State/Country: Texas

Interests: Traveling, yoga, cooking, hiking

What excites me most about PH: Studying remittances & migration + warm weather over Spring break!

Will you try balut in PH? No, I’m nearly a vegetarianJ


IEDP Policy team: Human Rights

Yr/Program: 2nd year, MPP

Area of focus/concentration: Urban policy, Poverty policy

Home State/Country: Illinois, USA

Interests: reading, collecting records, running, travelling, watching films, cooking

What excites me most about PH: the opportunity to learn from policymakers in the field, delicious food, warm weather, new landscapes

Will you try balut in PH? No way, no how.


IEDP Policy team: Economic Policy #2 - migration and remittances

Yr/Program: MPP/MS 2010

Area of focus/concentration: Climate Change Policy and International Development

Home State/Country: Rhode Island - AKA - Little Rhody or Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

Interests: nothing says it better than my FB profile "
the mountains, traveling, being a dorky grad student, the fall, amigos near and far, darts, hiking, Planet Earth (the movies), local beer, snowboarding, laughing, RI beaches, snow shoeing, beautiful vistas, NYC and being goofy"

What excites me most about PH: Wow - pretty much everything....but in particular being able to witness the
cultural contrasts between the urban and rural areas. Also, I can't wait to experience the natural environment of the Philippines, because of its location it is a biological "hot spot" , meaning it has some of the most diverse flora and fauna on the planet! Can you say....WHALE SHARKS!!!!

Will you try balut in PH? I almost threw up when I google searched it - Cree is my witness - so NO!