The Philippines: Rural Families, Urban Income
• CSQ Issue:
• 7.4 (Winter 1983) The Search for Work
I'm telling my daughter that she shouldn't get married yet, we have too many expenses and we need her help.
This statement, by the mother of a young woman working as a salesgirl in a provincial urban center of the Philippines, illustrates the family's dependence on their daughter's support. Like many other young people working in urban areas, this daughter regularly remits substantial amounts of money to her parents and siblings who live in a nearby rural town where her father grows rice on a small plot of leased land.
In the Philippines today, a deteriorating economic situation for rural households and a widening disparity in income distribution leads many, such as this young woman, to seek work in urban areas. On the Central Luzon Plain, the primary rice-producing area of the country, rice farmers typically are either tenant farmers or owners of small plots (two or three hectares) of land, and are for the most part unable to produce enough for their family's consumption for the year. Most sell a portion of the rice they produce in order to pay other expenses, and then, later in the year, must buy rice for their families. In addition, an increasing number of rural people have no access to land at all, either as tenants or owners, and must support themselves and their families by working as hired labor.
As a result of this economic situation, rural households often seek out diverse sources of income - farming alone, even for those with access to land as tenants or smallholders, is not sufficient to maintain the family. Other income sources may include wage labor in the rural area (including working on the farms of others) as well as migration to seek employment elsewhere. Migrants may include household heads who work elsewhere on a seasonal basis; for example, many construction workers in the capital city of Manila spend...