by Sally Shearer (Intern)
Filipinos have withstood quite a year: from weathering the devastating effects of the super Typhoon Haiyan at the end of 2013, and Typhoon Rammasun this July and just narrowly escaping a third last month. Super Typhoon Jose spared the Southeast Asian nation from the full brunt of its force, though still providing rains heavy enough risk spilling over damns and flooding a number of areas throughout the country.
Still, the Philippines continue to rebound, exhibiting incredible perseverance and grit. This has not gone unnoticed. The Philippines is predicted to be the second-fasting growing Asian economy this year, the 14th economy largest by 2050. Furthermore, the nation was named the most improved country in the latest Doing Business report, and ranked fifth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.
The cherry on top for international recognition of the Philippines progress thus far, was playing host for the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2014 in May. However, the Philippines has a ways to go before it can ever become a leader in East Asia let alone on the international stage. This was made clear over the course of the summit, which identified the necessary drivers for growth, as well as the key obstacles and issues that must be addressed. Namely, ensuring the growth is inclusive. Change, while significant overall, has yet to penetrate all areas of the country; while metro areas thrive, rural areas have yet to reap the benefits of economic expansion. Poorly dispersed resources and opportunity weaken the entirety of any system.
By now, you may be wondering where Faces Apparel fits into the picture, especially from all the way over here in California. We are gearing up to combat one of these hurdles: poverty.
Faces is committed to providing fair wage jobs to struggling communities and spur economic growth in these poor rural areas, where families are often disbanded, and parents are forced to leave their children for work in urban factories or abroad (a whopping 10% of the GDP is remittances, with 1 in 10 Filipinos working abroad).
It has become increasingly public knowledge that the conditions in such factories are mediocre at best, but more likely rampant with numerous labor and human rights violations. Workers risk their lives daily in these factories, only to be able to send meager and often-insufficient funds home to their families.
This is the case throughout much of Asia, where developed countries like our own have outsourced to take advantage of cheap labor. And regardless of one’s stance on this issue, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Therefore, there is no justifiable reason for it to continue on in such a destructive and dehumanizing fashion – an unfortunate but accurate pun given the apparel industry’s major role.
As evidenced by the bright outlook in the Philippines there IS hope, there is potential. But we need to capitalize on the momentum now. Faces Apparel is doing just that. We are proud to draw attention to both the need, but even more so, the incredible promise Filipinos possess, with the forthcoming institution of our Mobile Factory initiative, in San Pedro, Philippines.
Our vision predicates on the “teach a man to fish” philosophy: Filipino’s need our help, but not our charity. They already possess tremendous ability and drive as evidenced by their repeated resiliency. Filipino journalists have documented this: those living in rural shantytowns “want jobs – not handouts.” Faces Apparel wants to provide the opportunity to see it realized by investing in the people of the Philippines. Oh, and of course create awesome T-shirts.
President Benigno Simeon Aquino said it best during his welcome address at the opening of World Economic Forum “We have to invest in our greatest asset – the Filipino people…It has been the patriotism, the willpower and the wisdom of the Filipino people that has rescued our country from its darkest moments.”