Pumping In Dollars to Boost Local Currency

The Philippine government has a lot to be thankful for to its overseas workers. In general, their earnings boost the country's economy, which is usually at a point of collapse. It has always been this way, as far back as we thirty-somethings can recall. At the onset of the mid-1990's, analysts were amazed at the Philippine economy's ability to pull itself from the brink of depression even when its neighboring "tiger" economies - Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan - have already plummeted. By the end of the year (Christmas season) badly needed dollars would be pouring into national banks and then circulated into the country's economy by phenomenal spending that actually strengthened the currency against the dollar.

The Asian Wall Street newspaper observed this phenomenon and concluded that investors could expect this from the Philippine market. The Filipinos, they say, tend to overspend during the holiday season mainly for gifts and well-wishes. There is also a Filipino tradition in which, during Christmas time, children are brought to visit their godparents, who, in turn, give them gifts in the form of cash. Gifts in kind are also imparted, but not without the traditional cash. Though many Filipino practitioners are ashamed to admit it - that they actually bring their children to visit their godparents for the traditional cash - they agree that it would not be like the tradition they have known if the impartation of cash would not be involved. I have witnessed in Tondo, one of Manila's densely populated areas, children who claim to be godchildren of certain individuals would, by themselves, without the escort of their parents, knock on their "godparents'" doors, enter, then be handed fifty-peso bills, even before they are seated. After being seated and having a short chat, they thankfully rise and leave for the homes of other "godparents". They start circuiting their "godparents" in the morning, around seven and finish by afternoon's end. This is why holiday jokes include situations where a crowd of godchildren would be at the thresholds of a terrified godparent cowering behind the door. At the end of the day, a child makes an average of P400-P500. This money soon rolls into action after the Christmas season, the time when the market begins jacking down their prices to normal levels.

This scenario is opposed to that of the Japanese economy. Analysts concluded that the Japanese recession can be drastically reduced, if not entirely eliminated, if the people would just shed their money and have it circulate the national markets. This is the very principle of recession. An economy can fail simply because there is not enough confidence flowing in its domestic body. This flow of confidence is manifest in the form of money.

In this sense, the Philippine economy has found an ally in its masses that would sacrifice life and limb to protect their ways of life and the furtherance of their tradition.