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This small book arose from the author’s own need for a better understanding of the modern Philippine economy. I’ve been studying Philippine history for several years, with a particular interest on how the United States has affected the Philippines over the past 117 years. The Philippines achieved “independence” in 1946, but since then the U.S. has intentionally continued its colonial-era interventions to mold the modern Philippines according to its own interests. Understanding the political economy of American intervention is key to comprehending how the Philippine economy arrived at its present combination of rapid growth, service to foreign capital, wealth generation for a few, and persistent poverty for the majority of Filipinos.
Unfortunately there are few books which explain how this evolved, and none which do so for a general audience. Over the past year I have intensively studied the topic and this primer is the result. I hope it will be useful to Filipino college students (both economics majors and those pursuing other degrees), as well as activists, historians, and others (Filipinos and citizens of other countries) who desire to better understand “what makes the Philippines tick”.
I extend grateful thanks to Ken Fuller, J.V. Ayson and Arnold Padilla for their thoughtful reviews and suggestions for the improvement of the manuscript. Thank you Wylzter Gutierrez for creating the wonderful drawings found on every page. My deepest thanks go to my publisher, layout artist and friend Julie Po for encouragement and help in bringing this book to completion.
This book is dedicated to the millions of Filipinos who suffer under their presently inequitable and exploitative economic system. I hope they find the courage and will to break the chains of the past and work together to build an equitable and sustainable economy which provides opportunities for all citizens.