Philippines in the 1970’s
Extending over an area of 300,000 km 2, the Philippines are made up of a very high number of islands, about 7100, of which only 880 are inhabited. Among these, Luzon and Mindanao emerge by extension, which alone represent 66% of the national territory. They owe their international importance to the strategic role played in the context of the Southeast Asian chessboard. Hence the interest of the United States and the pro-Western policy pursued even after the end of the American protectorate and the proclamation of the republic (1946).
The population shows very high growth rates: 27,088,000 residents in 1960, 36,684,000 in 1970 and 48,098,460 at the 1980 census, with an average annual increase of 2.6% in the last five years; but the first results of the cens. 1990s estimate the population at over 60 million residents. The birth rate continues to be high and equal to 21ı, against a mortality which has fallen to 4.4ı. The capital Manila has grown from 1,139,000 residents in 1960 to 1,598,918 in 1990 (but Greater Manila with its extensive shanty towns has exceeded 7 million residents), followed by Quezon City, the other millionaire city, which in 1990 reached 1,666,766 residents, but which thirty years earlier had 398,000 residents. Other major cities include Davao (850,000 residents), Caloocan (761,000 residents), Zamboanga (442,000 residents) And Pasay (366,600 residents). Migrations from the countryside to the city have increased the percentage of urban population with ever more conspicuous increases: 25% in 1950, 28.5% in 1960, 31.8% in 1970, 37.3% in 1980, 43% in 1990.
The Tagalog, the national language, is slowly affirming and is now spoken by more than 55% of the Philippines along with English used by 45% of the population, while the Spaniard is now reduced to a minority of 3%.
Although rich in resources, with a distinct population with a good level of education and a fairly developed entrepreneurial class, the Philippines remain the country that has registered the least economic growth in ASEAN. Inflation, already 18.5% at the end of the seventies, exceeded 60% in the first five years of the eighties, accompanied by a growing foreign debt (in 1990 it exceeded 30,000 million dollars against a GDP that in the the same year it did not reach 44,000 million dollars), especially for the purchase of hydrocarbons, and an exasperation of the state of internal poverty. This, widespread both in the countryside and in the city, is particularly accentuated in the islands and in the most marginal regions and, according to an assessment by the World Bank, it affects no less than 40-50% of the population. Estimates by the same body attributed to the country an average income per capita of 730 dollars in 1990. The reduction of demographic growth, the expansion of agriculture and the development of industrialization are suggested by the Bank itself as tools for the socio-economic recovery of the country. Undoubtedly this would rebalance the population-food resource ratio, but it would be difficult to obtain greater agricultural production without a dangerous environmental aggression, as frequently happened for the so-called “ green revolution ” (deforestation, soil chemistry, uncontrolled use of insecticides, etc.), preceded by the agrarian reform of 1963, relaunched by Marcos in 1972 to favor the transition to direct management and the birth of village cooperatives (samahang nayon).
The cultivated area has expanded at the expense of the forest. Thanks also to the recovery of new lands and the introduction of high-yielding varieties, the production of rice has risen from 56 million q in 1974 to 94 million in 1989, while maize has risen at the same time from 23 to 45 million quintals.. This is followed by potato, cassava, potatoes, legumes, peanuts and soy, all destined for internal consumption; for the international market, cane sugar, copra and coconut oil are produced, as well as canned pineapple. Other industrial crops include tobacco, rather sought after for its good quality, Manila hemp, cotton and coffee. Very important, as supplements to the daily diet, are fishery products, practiced mostly with traditional forms, but also with numerous, milkfish, Chanos Chanos). The annual catch is around 2 million tons.
Highly exported is valuable timber, including Philippine mahogany. The production of 4.5 million m 3, in the mid-1950s, experienced a continuous increase: doubled in the early 1970s, it exceeded 38 million m 3 at the end of the following decade.
The variety of mineral resources is remarkable, but the production is not as great. Apart from Cebu coal (1,336,000 t in 1988) and copper (193,100 t in 1989) which is concentrated and sent for export, iron barely reaches 15,000 t. Modest values reach manganese, molybdenum, cobalt, nickel, lead and zinc. The quantity of national oil is also modest. More significant is the production of chromium, gold and silver.
The first country in the world for geothermal capacity, it has projects underway that will allow for a sharp reduction in oil imports. Currently of geothermal origin it is about a quarter of the production which is around 24,000 million kWh; the rest is hydroelectric or atomic (Morong nuclear power plant).
Alongside the food industries (sugar factories, rice polishing, etc.) and textile (cotton yarns and fabrics), the chemical, fertilizer and synthetic fibers industries have developed, as well as cement factories, the assembly of cars and the production of tires. thanks to local rubber resources. Industrialization, however, appears structurally and, despite attempts at productive decentralization, even territorially, very unbalanced, continuing to favor dependence on international markets and the differences between the few strong areas (Manila and the cities that surround them) and those more weak and conservative, whose marginality is aggravated by the inadequacy of the connections.
In June 1991, after more than 600 years of inactivity, the Piñatubo volcano on the island of Luzon was devastated by a terrible eruption, followed by an earthquake and a cyclone. The consequences were dramatic: hundreds of deaths, hundreds of thousands of homeless.