#Neverforget: Inequality is Imperial Manila`s real legacy

With the consultative commission`s submission of the draft federal constitution completed many are upset over this body's inability to include them in the discussions. 

Many of these pundits and social media talking heads, mostly from Manila, are mistaken. Sorry to deflate their egos, but this committee was meant to draft the federal constitution for approval, not approve it.
 
That said, the work of these Metro Manila talking heads poison`s everyone's thought about the Committee's work shows two things: 
 
One,  their long standing bias against the federal proposal.
 
Two, their "imperial attitude". This reaction is imperial manila in full display.
 
What do i mean?
 
Imperial Manila is not a person, but the attitude resulting from a shared, nay imposed and self sustaining belief, that Metro Manila deserves first dibs, the first word, and the only real opinion on things that affect everyone else.
 
 It is the thought that Metro Manilans, being everybody's enlightened, more educated, smart and worldly brothers, deserves a stature that puts everyone else second and therefore, less significant.
 
This programmed mindset did not grow overnight. It is the result of decades of building up the metropolis as the Philippine ideal of civility, requiring everyone else's affirmation and reverence. The apex of this effort was Former first lady Imelda Marcos' desire to agglomerate metro manila into the 'City of Man"
 
 
The capital of classism and defeatism
 
History, however, shows the exact opposite. It is the main port of subjugation and the entrepot of a complex belief that the Filipino is a small, insignificant bit player in the world dominated by western giants upon whom reverence and deference must always be showed. 
 
"Crab mentality" is its worst form of defeatism, where pinoys clamber over themselves to prevent a compatriot from rising so as not to insult a colonizers dominance. This is clear among Metro Manilans.
 
Old Manila is the city where the occidental rulers fought to keep their hegemony over the natives, and reinforced virtual class systems that kept all other races beneath them divided, where their main threat, the Chinese Filipino merchant class was kept outside the gates, and the rest of the Philippines, out of mind and under their thumb, providing resources for mercantilist expansion, and later, menial laborers for their households and warehouses. 
 
Manila's insulares (local born spaniards) intelligentsia and merchant class ilustrados perpetuated this classism was a class beneath them, and the rest of the west a heaven above. Recall the opening dinner party scene in Noli Me Tangere?
 
The truth is westerners were always on a pedestal, and Manila's elites, like Buencamino in the Heneral Luna movie, would rush to bow before western powers in a bid to please them, to protect their interests.

This attitude, born out of colonialism, took a new form in successive Manila based governments. The way the ruled and allocated resources reflected this bias.

 
 
Fact: Inequality has been the norm
 
The hard truth about Manila's relationship with the rest of the country is that the biased policies have created persistent inewuality across the country.

Metro manila`s residents have earned more than everyone else in the decades since we have been recording average income. The most recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing the results of the 2012 and 2015 Family income and expenditures Surveys is a snapshot of this long standing reality. (See graphs below):

 
Graph above shows comparative average family income in 2012 and 2015 while the graph below shows the average Family expnditure. Both based on the Family income and Expenditure Suveys 2012 and 2015 of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
 
In the graphs we can see the fact that families the Visayas and Mindanao regions, on average, earn and spend about half of Manilenos. Thus, legions of them are forced to migrate to the metro, swelling its populatiin beyond what it can carry, while their home regions, having lost their talents to the capital, languish behind.

The sadder reality is that Manila's wealth comes from provincial resources and trade.This economic equality persisted in the generations after Rizal, into the Marcos and later, the Aquino regimes.  In the three years between them, nothing changed. 

 
This inequality reflected in the vast differences in minimum wage rates and poverty levels. The most affluent Filipinos are from Metro manila, CALABARZON and Central Luzon, while the poorest are in Mindanao. with the ability to spend less than what Manilan's consume. 
 
Such inequality could have been softened by government spending in infrastructure and other resources thatbhave evened things out. Yet for Manila and its government, the rest of the country is an afterthought. 
 
Until 2016, government spent more than half its budget in the capital region and its immediate neighborhood. This of course is justified by higher wages they need to pay, and higher costs of operations and living compared with  Cebu and Davao. 
 
 
 
What's needed to make federalism work 
 
In addressing this long standing inequality, any attempt at creating a federal republic must come with a spread of opportunities through infrastructure development and the build up of local economic capacities, particularly local agriculture. Those ale to compete with robust economies, such as CALABARZON, Central Visayas and Davao will surge forward. Poorer regions need to create food surpluses, lest they fall into strife.   
 
Today's programs hold promise, but may not be enough.  An increase in government budgets for regions for key services like agriculture, and the rationalizing of incentives to promote industrial investments in the countrysides  is needed to pump prime local economies to create the homegrown wealth needed for federalism to thrive. Build Build build needs to move faster.
 
These programs will slowly lessen the inequality, and enable better participation in economic growth by increasing locally grown wealth that makes local economies robust.  The rest is up to local communities to drive the unity needed to build these capacities. By doing this, federalism can work.
 
Pilar is a woman, and NGO worker basd in Butuan City. The views expressed here solely belong to the authort, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Resurgent.ph