Maharlika is food-poor | Inquirer Opinion

Maharlika is food-poor

After all is said and done, Filipinos remain food-poor. Not just embarrassing but actually pitiful. To think that Filipino officials are gallivanting around the world, presumably to promote the Philippine economy and business opportunities. I wonder if they have the humility and courage to show the grim reality of most Filipinos still stuck in finding and not affording food.

39% of Filipino families consider themselves food-poor. Another 35% consider themselves borderline food-poor. That makes 74% of Filipino families not having enough food to eat and not having the confidence at any time that they will have food security. With so many official foreign trips done and still happening, how much food security are Filipino families being blessed with?


I am sure, though, that superior popularity and approval ratings become a proud topic in the sidelines. With such high ratings, how can governance be bad? Such impeccable logic yet adds one more facet to the Filipino psyche – a born masochist.

Or a born beggar. Just months ago, in the last quarter of 2022, reports said that half of Filipino families received aid from government. I remember around this time in 2020, during the pandemic, government budgeted food assistance for 80% of Filipino families. With government subsidy to the majority of Filipino families comes high popularity and approval ratings. And also, extraordinary debt incurred, to be paid for by the next two generations of Filipino families, at least.


It is so funny that government statistics keep showing that there are less than 20% Filipinos below the poverty line. Last August 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that 18.1% lived below the poverty line. Yet, government aid keeps targeting half of Filipino families. I am not surprised anymore that most Filipinos do not complain, either about hunger, food poverty, or unbelievable poverty statistics. Anyway, the aid keeps coming, the national debt keeps climbing.

The running total of our national debt when the Duterte administration began its regime stood at 6 trillion pesos. The running total when the Duterte administration turned over the reins to Marcos, Jr. shot up to 13 trillion pesos, or more than doubled in 6 years. The aid to most Filipinos continued, as did the popularity and approval ratings. This is a neat combination – keep borrowing and let the next generations pay, keep subsidies going to keep the ratings up.

The Philippines will never be an industrial nation, never. A food-poor people never build an industrial nation. There was a time in the 60s when Singapore had vestiges of a poor country, having hardly any natural resources except one – the Singaporean people and the Singaporean leadership. Lee Kuan Yew had the vision and the character to lead without succumbing to greed along the way. The Singaporean people had the determination to lead simple lives and worked hard to follow their visionary.

Singapore imports more than 90% of their food but only a minimal percentage experience food poverty, and never for long. Only 1% of its land is dedicated to agriculture. The Philippines is an agricultural country. Yet, our poverty, food and otherwise, is enduring and stagnant – meaning its victims are born into poverty, die there, then leave it as a legacy to their descendants. No vision, no leadership, no role models to lead the people.

Our leaders are so proud to initiate the Maharlika Investment Fund, as though we are Maharlikans. We are not, not the traditional lower warrior class because we have a majority mendicant class, neither what twisted romantics try to portray as the royalty or nobility class. We are food-poor, food-threatened people. Our investment should be centered on food until there is no more food poverty or fear of hunger.

I propose a Food Investment Fund, a simple medium-term vision to eliminate hunger and food poverty, 5 years to bring down food poverty to below 5%. This Food Investment Fund will spark and fund all sorts of food production programs by the people themselves separate from traditional DA programs. Then, let us think of a Maharlika Investment Fund when we have deserved to be a proud nation that took care of its food-poor people.

We cannot continue to plan for the exception, and that is the minority 26% who are not concerned about their food needs. The exception, or what might be the imaginary royal or nobility class in the Philippines, cannot dictate any longer on what progress looks like. Not that they are incapable of lofty visions, but they are incapable of taking care of the majority poor in the one Filipino family we belong to.


Progress must take the first definition for the majority of Filipinos, and that definition is food-secure. Any people whose first and foremost concern remains to be food for the family cannot think farther than their supply in the kitchen – or their escapist transient moments with entertainment drama and personalities.

The Filipino rich and powerful, the royals and elite of Philippine society, have had enough time to nurture, develop, and empower the majority. They have failed. Perhaps, they never wanted to. Kindlier, perhaps, they just do not know how to stoop to where there is little or no food.

Government is supposed to be the big brother for the weak and the majority, big brother in heart and mind, big brother in plans and programs, big brother in operations and protection. Government is supposed to draw the stronger part of society to pull up the rest, because nearly all the wealth is in the hands of the minority rich.

It is not enough for the rich to pay their share. Not paying their share is a crime. It is their duty, instead, to lend their advanced resources, knowledge, and global networks to work for those left behind. After all, they made their billions off the people and the land.

Even Spiderman knew enough to understand that with great power comes great responsibility. Hear, hear, dear government, Spiderman was speaking to you, too.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: food, Maharlika, Poor, Poverty
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.