New Rules with the Re-Opening of Boracay Island

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World-famous Boracay reopened on Friday six months after it was ordered closed by President Duterte for massive rehabilitation due to years of neglect, overdevelopment, and disregard for environmental laws.

The Boracay Island and its white sand beach were closed to visitors in April after President Duterte called it a “cesspool” tainted by raw sewage flowing from hotels and restaurants straight into the sea.

According to the Department of Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, the carrying capacity of Boracay should also be limited to 19,215 persons a day and 6,405 tourist arrivals a day. This will be strictly enforced after the re-opening.

The beautiful island of Boracay will be reopening for a “test run” on October 26, 2018, six months after it was closed down for partial rehabilitation. Here are some new rules about the “new” Boracay:

1. No Booking, No Entry

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Tourists are now required to present their hotel booking when they get to the island. A verification booth will be set up in both Caticlan and Kalibo airports where officials will check the hotel bookings of tourists and make sure that they booked with accredited hotels. Department of Tourism has released a list of the 157 hotels that were allowed to be reopened. These hotels are those that have successfully acquired the required permits to operate on the island.

2. Easement 25 meters plus 5 meters.

No structures are allowed 25 meters away from the beach as well as the 5 meters easement in front of resorts and establishments.

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3. Promote Green Buildings

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4. No Casinos

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The government will also ban casino operations, while all water sports save for swimming are also banned for the time being.

5. Follow Ordinances and Environment Laws

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Boracay now has a total of 200 new lifeguards are now ready to serve swimming guests after undergoing intensive training under the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

6. Only Accepts Tourists within the Island’s capacity of 19, 215 at a time or 6,405 tourists a day.

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7. No Big Parties

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8. No Smoking and Drinking

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No smoking and drinking in public areas. You’re still free to drink or smoke in the confines of resorts, however!

9. Ban of Open Fires and Use of Kerosene Gas/Fuel

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From the previous 4 to 5 meters, the whole stretch of the road is now 12 meters-wide with walkway, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary.

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Philippine Star (24 Oct 2018). Infographic: New rules for Boracay reopening. Retrieved from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/10/24/1862824/infographic-new-rules-boracay-reopening.

 

My Latest TV Guesting: Responsible Tourism

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Thank you TV5 and Cignal TV for allowing me to share my sociological insights live on responsible tourism in your talk show “AGENDA” with the popular travel blogger Lillian Cobiao and TV host and columnist Cito Beltran. The episode will be replayed in channels 8 and 250 of Cignal satellite TV with 2 million subscribers. God bless! Let us be responsible as tourists and travelers!

Schedule of replays today Nov. 7 at Channels 8 and 250 of Cignal Satellite TV of our show: 12:00-1:00PM, 4:30-5:30PM and 11:00-12:00Midnight.

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A special thanks to Madelaine Lacson, the interview producer of the show!

https://web.facebook.com/ONENewsPH/videos/914328918755290/?t=0

 

 

Profit, Corruption, and Red Tape in Doing Business in the Philippines

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Hiring and Profit in the Philippines

Textbooks and courses on business administration, management, and entrepreneurship with their emphasis on attaining business forecast and maximizing profit always imply that productive capital in doing business (such money, stocks, land, equipment, machinery, etc.) is a priority over labor (or workers’ welfare).

The common practice of some businesses is to sacrifice the wage and benefits of workers to lower production cost and thus attain their forecast and earn higher profit levels. This indicates a capitalist thinking which gives more importance to productive capital rather than labor. One unfair labor practice that shows this priority of the growth of capital rather than labor is the “casualization” of labor in developing countries like the Philippines.

To lower labor cost in order to increase profit is the hiring of casual workers from agencies with work contracts with less than six months to prevent employees to become regular or permanent under the Philippine Labor Code and thus save money by not spending for their social benefits. This practice indicates that businessmen/women are not really more concerned with the welfare of the workers by providing them permanent jobs and sufficient social benefits in the name of Christian charity and social justice but with the increase of profit or capital for their business.

The hiring of students as casual crew in fast-food chains rather than permanent employees is another example of this “casualization” and prioritization of capital over labor. The hiring of employees in security agencies, janitorial services, and call centers in the Philippines follows this trend of contractualization of labor.

Corruption and Doing Business in the Philippines

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Entrepreneurs who want to earn the profit for their business could be totally faulted if they fail to provide a moral wage which is sufficient to raise a family. From the point of view of business owners and managers, one important reason why they tend to lower the wage of workers in the Philippines is the high cost of doing business in the country. To maintain, expand or to stay profitable in business, entrepreneurs are sometimes pressured to lower the labor cost.

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Corruption is another expense in business. In Transparency International surveys, the Philippines has consistently been listed as among the most corrupt countries in Asia and in the world. Business owners and managers want to recovery the bribes they gave to corrupt government regulators and law enforcers often find ways to reduce production cost. And most often they resort to minimizing the wage and benefits of their employees. The capacity of employers to provide a decent wage to their workers is sometimes conditioned by the overall environment of doing business in a particular country.

Analysis, Magnifying Glass

A World Bank report on the cost of doing business in 2018 revealed that the Philippines is one of the most unattractive destinations of foreign investment in the world because of the delay and high cost of starting and doing business in the country. In general, doing business in the country is tedious, time-consuming, and expensive, making it difficult for employers to be generous to their workers in wage and social benefits.

Red Tape

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Red tape is one major reason why employers incur higher expenses in doing business resulting which can sometimes reduce their capacity to give a higher wage and social benefits to their workers. Research and theory have been inconsistent and ambiguous on the nature of “red tape”. But there is  an understanding that red tape has something to do with excessive or meaningless paperwork  (Bennett & Johnson, 1979); a high degree of formalization and constraint (Hall, 1968); unnecessary rules, procedures and regulations; inefficiency; unjustifiable delays; and as a result from all this, frustration and vexation (Bozeman 1993, p. 273).

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Rosenfeld (1984) defines red tape as the sum of government guidelines, procedures, and forms that are perceived as excessive, unwieldy, or pointless in relation to official decisions and policy (as cited in Bozeman, 1993, p. 276). Theories abound why red tape exist in government regulation. But one popular theory sees the concern of the government to create a system of checks and balances in the regulatory process in order to avoid corruption and deviation from the official law as causing red tape.

Taxes, Tax Evasion, Police, Handcuffs

Red tape is one of the more serious bureaucratic obstacles in addition to legal obstacles in the full legalization of business in the local economy.  With numerous unnecessary paper works, bureaucratic requirements and procedures, and  unexplained delays in securing business registration, licenses and permits as well as  compliance with the yearly requirements and inspections to maintain legality in business,  traders or entrepreneurs increase their cost of maintaining their business which, in turn, can discourage them to improve the wage of their employees. Thus, the Philippines is one most difficult countries to do business in Southeast Asia as well as in the world according to the  World Bank Report on the ease of doing business in the world.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Can Poverty Make One Religious and Prayerful?

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Introduction

In one of my research studies on the religiosity of the victims of Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) in the Philippines, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the country, two Filipino mothers who were urban poor and who survived from the disaster, narrated to me vividly on how God saved her and her family from rising flood of the dangerous typhoon.

The first informant was Aling Sonia, 28 years old, a mother of six also claimed that God saved them physically from harm:

I said in my prayer at that time when the floor water was rising: My God, spare me from danger because my children are still very young. I am also pregnant and am about to give birth. Please save us from danger. Come what may, if we are left without belonging as long as we are all saved. And my prayer was answered. We were rescued/brought to a higher place and were brought to the evacuation center of Barangay San Isidro before we were given a house unit in the relocation.”

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The second one was Aling Anita, 45 years old, an ambulant vendor with 6 children, for instance, claimed that God personally saved her children from the typhoon by performing a miracle. She believed that God sent her friend to save her children from the flood:

“The rain was so heavy on that morning. I peddled breakfast from house-to-house every morning. While walking, somebody told me that the flood was already very high in our place. The makeshift houses there were already washed away. I hurriedly went home but was stranded because of the high flood on the roads. I was very worried but I kept on praying fervently that God would save my 6 little kids. At that very moment God heard my prayer. Somebody told me that a friend of mine who resided far from our place saved my children. I later learned that my friend remembered that I was vending every morning and that no one might save my children. So she went to my house even if it is far. Her arrival was on time. She was able to bring all my children to higher ground before our house was swept away by rampaging water. I was really thankful to our Lord God for saving my family from Typhoon Ondoy.”

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A key question in sociology of religion is: Why do people become religious?

Deprivation Theory and Religiosity

One theory that aims to answer the question on why people become religious is the deprivation theory. This theory maintains that “religious commitment is the result of compensation that religion provides in situations where individuals meet obstacles in life in search for alternative goals” (Furset & Repstad, 2006, p.111). According to this theory, grievances in life, such as poverty, lack of safety or imminent danger in disaster situations, difficult personal problems, and other forms of deprivations in life, can make people religious and prayerful to God.

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There are different types of deprivation theories in sociology. But the economic deprivation theory, in particular, explains that poverty can make people religious. The more people experience financial hardships, extreme poverty, or material deprivation in life, the more they become religious.

There is always the issue whether one must glorify poverty or condemn it in relation to one’s religiosity. There seems to be a popular perception that to be poor rather than rich is desirable in the eyes of God.

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Is it really true that material poverty is blessed by God?

Poverty in Spirit

The Bible and the church teachings do not actually condemn rich people for having more wealth. What is condemned is inordinate attachment to wealth or greediness. One can become wealthy and still detached from material things and generous to other people. Some disciples of Christ, such as Joseph of Arimathea, are rich people, but they are not greedy and use their wealth to oppress others.

If one examines the Bible, the poor of Yahweh or anawim do not necessarily refer to materially-deprived people. The primary trait of being a “poor of God” is being attached to God and detached from wealth, i.e., wealth is not seen as the ultimate end of life but only a means to achieve one’s salvation. The Calvinist protestants, for example, believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing, being materially rich is a sure sign that one is blessed by God and predestined to be with Him in heaven.

Poverty and Religiosity

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There is a scarce sociological research that relate poverty with religiosity. But there seems to be a weak correlation between the two. Material poverty makes people busy with their jobs and livelihood in order to survive or sustain one’s family. Thus, it takes away from people some precious time and space to reflect, pray, or attend religious activities. It makes them preoccupied with subsistence that would make their mental states indisposed to prayer and meditation.

Busy people do not have the luxury of reflecting over their life and spiritual beliefs. If we just observe the life and routine of many urban poor in the informal sector, we can conclude that poverty does not make people disposed to religiosity, particularly to public religiosity, i.e., attending public rituals such the Mass and sacraments for Catholics, joining religious organizations, and attending communal activities of the parish church.

Private Religiosity of the Poor

Despite poverty, many poor people still manage to nurture their private religiosity or personal beliefs in God and private devotions. Many urban poor women are privately religious. This is shown in my study with Typhoon Ketsana victims and with my interviews with my key informants who were urban poor women in a relocation area.  Many, for example, believe that God saved them from the flood and typhoon, although all of them rarely attended the Holy Mass.

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The popular Black Nazarene devotion in Quiapo, Philippines, for instance, illustrates how poor people can still enhance their private devotions in spite of their difficult and hectic daily schedule for subsistence.

Praise God that you read this post. Feel free to comment and share it to others. Thanks and God bless!

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Reference

Furseth, I. & Repstad, P. (2006). An Introduction to the Sociology of Religion:  Classical and Contemporary Perspectives. England: Ashgate.

 

 

The Religiosity of the Filipino Catholic Christians

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Photo: St. Joseph Cathedral, Butuan City, Philippines (courtesy of the author)

Surveys on Filipino religiosity by the Social Weather Station (SWS) had consistently revealed a more privatized faith for the Filipino Christians, i.e., a Christian faith focusing only on private spirituality and lacking in social involvement. The results revealed that most Filipinos consider themselves very religious, with very strong beliefs in the existence of God and higher level of participation in religious activities.

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In particular, the Filipino youth (within ages 15 and 30) regarded themselves as religious (extremely religious 9%, very religious 29% and somewhat religious 49% or a total of 89%) in a 1996 SWS survey commissioned for the Philippine Youth Commission. This high level of religiosity is not, however, accompanied by a strong social involvement, particularly in organizational involvement. Only 12 percent of the Filipino youth are involved in church and religious organizations as well as in sports and recreational organizations. With regard to participation in charitable institutions, only 3% of the youth are involved.

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Photo credit: author

In general, most religiosity surveys revealed that the Filipino faith, although high in religious belief, lacked public character. Most of the popular Filipino religious practices are more oriented towards the individual and/or small circle of friends and relatives and lacking in structural dimension demanded by the CST.

Penitence

Photo: Filipino Christians doing in penitence during Holy Week in the Philippines (Source: http://thepinoywarrior.com)

The Filipino religious practice of penitensya (penitence) during Lent, for instance, encourages a pietistic and individualist orientation of faith. Though hugely popular, the devotion remains an individualist effort to atone one’s individual sin and lacking in social dimension. The popular devotion to the Black Nazarene in Quiapo is also devoid of liberational dimension. Many devotees participated in the devotion as a form of personal and familial gratitude due to some material favors they received from the Black Nazarene.

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Photo: The procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo (Source: http://theologasia.com)

Fernando Zialcita, a Filipino anthropologist, confirmed this pattern in his earlier study of the black Nazarene devotion. His informants revealed that the motivation in joining the Black Nazarene devotion is more materialist in nature, deviating from the Church’s official spiritual on devotion.  Filipinos rate themselves very high in religiosity and religious beliefs but they did not seem to relate them to social issues and problems as indicated by religiosity surveys and popular devotions in the country like the Black Nazarene.

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Photo credit: author

This finding is consistent with the study done by Dr. Ricardo Abad (2005) on the social capital of Filipinos: Filipinos tend to be affiliated more with their own smaller circles of relatives and friends and less in organizations and associations in the Church or in civil society. The Filipino Christianity is generally a privatized or personal one.

Sto. Nino

Photo: Sinulog procession in honor of the Sto. Nino in Cebu City, Philippines (Source:http://catholicleader.com.au)

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) says that most of the people’s faith today is centered on the practice of the rites of popular piety and not on community and of building up of the world into the image of the Kingdom (PCP #13), specifically on building up of a faith community and involvement in social issues (PCP II#17). For this reason PCP II recommended a rigorous catechism of the “unchurched” or “nominal” Catholics, that is, the vast majority of Catholics in the Philippines who greatly lack knowledge and formation in the Christian faith, particularly on the Church’s social doctrines. Thus, catechism and Christian formation of Filipino Catholics on the social doctrines of the Church are, therefore, urgently needed in order to develop their Christian social conscience and  spirituality of social transformation.

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One must remember that the Christian faith is neither all about social activism and pietism nor solely about saving the individual’s soul, but a fine blend of spiritual and social struggle for the total liberation of the individual and society from all forms of personal and social sins. The Second Vatican Council emphasized that the mission of the Church in the contemporary world is helping human being to discover God as the ultimate meaning of his/her existence (CSDC #576). The Church’s mission is the total salvation of the individual and society from spiritual and material slavery.

Photo credit (except those with source): author, Pexels.com free photos

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