Monday, September 26, 2005

Microfinance In The Philippines

Links to graphics:

The two maps show the Philippines as small black dots. The first map shows a world that is slowly embracing microfinance. And understandably, those not participating may not be in urgent need of measures aimed at poverty alleviation.

To interpret the second map, it shows that the Philippines (colored black) has Portfolio At Risk – 30 days in the range of 4.6-6.5%. Though not the leader in this area, but still compare this to the ratios of non-performing loans in the local commercial banking system, which average in the double-digits. And we can truly say, not bad.

The pie chart shows that the Philippines received 4% from ADB’s Microfinance loans which share amounted to US$20 million.

The little piece below was originally intended as additional comments on the subject of microfinance discussed in another blog, to help shed light on the many blessings that could be brought into a country which seriously embraces its many time-tested principles and practices. But decided against it for the reason that it may not be the proper forum at this time, though it would have reached more people given the wide readership of that blog.

So here goes.

Without a doubt, microfinance is not, and has never been, touted as the perfect vehicle for addressing poverty, especially the abject poverty we see in the country. Thus, it is also heir to failures

But first, let it be reiterated that the successful and sustainable microfinance organization is one that is privately owned and operated. And such is the case with the current microfinance environment in the Philippines. The prior microcredit programs initiated and run by the government are essentially the past. And indeed they failed because the borrowers failed them. And for a variety of reasons. Included among them would be inadequate loan education and monitoring of the borrowers, borrowers are not personally invested, and yes, even maybe because of the acquired bad attitudes/habits in the local culture.

But can microfinance work in the Philippines? Please read these articles from Grameen Foundation USA and you be the judge:

Does microfinance have a significance presence in the Philippines? Here is a partial list of a coalition of microfinance organizations in the Philippines:

You may also be able to pick successful names from the thousands of credit unions/cooperatives scattered in the country, since most of them already perform micro-finance activities without the official designation.

Overall, are microfinance organizations in the Philippines good at collection or re-payment efforts, which process completes the loan cycle?

I can only provide and vouch for it firstly, from anecdotal evidence from the credit union I am a member of (established in 1954), and secondly, from recollections of articles and news reports I have read, including the links on my last comment and the graphics above.

Lastly, let me ask in return, would the Philippines be “is estimated that the Philippines is home to the largest number of Grameen-style programs”, if its history on repayment rates was very poor? Especially as compared to the other countries which have histories of good repayment rates?

Monday, September 19, 2005

In Defense of Internet Explorer

When you are running 90% of all the PCs in the world, it can be expected that all the ill-willed hackers in the world will be after you, searching into all your possible weaknesses and unattended backdoors, and exploiting them to try to bring you down. For this reason, Bill Gates is one big unloved person in the world.

This unfortunately is the case with Microsoft’s best-selling main products.

I have always used IE, since I broke away from the original and pioneering Netscape. And I have weathered through all the “slings and arrows” hurled at my uses of different versions of IE over the years, ably assisted by my trusty and always updated anti-virus, Norton. I do confess that I have not used the open-source alternatives.

To be fair then, IE has served me well over the years from the time it got bundled up with Win95, and thus assured the demise of Netscape.

One little detail I need to reveal. For my PC (from all the PCs that I have connected to my home LAN) that connects to the net, I have stayed with Win98, Second Edition, arguably considered the hardiest of all the WinXX versions.

My rationale has been quite simple. Like open-source whose penetration at present is still quite miniscule compared to Windows, active hackers of the world will not pay too much attention to the older Versions of WinXX knowing that most active PCs are now running the newer versions. Thus, in a very real way, most infections are now directed against PCs running WinXP and the immediately preceding version.

And lastly, for this PC I have kept its configuration as simple, as lean, and as an uncluttered as possible, leaving only the applications and add-ons needed for the purposes why one goes to the internet.

This option is practicable, of course, if you simply have to use, or stay with, Windows. Or you may at present not have the time or inclination or expense to try and go through the learning curve of an entirely new OS.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Blogging: On Being Opinionated

What is indisputably true is that the majority of bloggers create blogs to publish their own views and opinions on essentially any subject that interest them. In that respect, they are not your typical journalist reporting straight news. They act as pundits, dispensing their own opinions or editorializing on matters that pique their fancy. They are therefore your most opinionated group. And many will not be shy to remind any reader/commenter straying from the line laid out in the blogs about this sacrosanct right.

In other words, their behavior is quite congruent with human nature.

As children, we always wanted everyone around us to think, feel, and act like we do, or we balked. We gathered people around us who shared the same interests we do. And even as we got older, we still preferred to be with like-minded people, forming our closely-knit circle of friends. Excluding most everybody else as outsiders.

Though, mind you, as mature persons we know that we should not think too highly of all our opinions.

That pride is at the center of our avid quest in promoting our own deeply-held opinions. Because we know that we should be open-minded and not too foolish to believe that we know all the answers.

Though we have learned to accept that when one listens to others, the better likelihood is that we can learn more, rather than when we are constantly promoting and defending our own set opinions.

Though we have learned that at times, it is the better part of discretion not to express one’s opinions on all the things that are wrong in the world. And that listening and being silent work better toward peace and harmony.

That in most times, discussions center on the likes and dislikes of people, and are thus not that important to one’s life.

That it takes deep humility and delicate charity to restrain one’s deep urge to correct people and things at the slightest opportunity. That because of our inability to control this inclination so much hurt has been inflicted on neighbors all in the name of not compromising the “truth”.

That the control of the tongue is in many instances the greater virtue to practice, because we understand that peace is better prepared for in solitude and silence.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Farming In Bukidnon

Nestled at about 1200 meters above sea level close to the foot of Kitanglad Mountain range in the town of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, these verdant scenes of cultivated plots reflect the abundant rainfall in the area.

Needless to say, at that elevation the very cool climate is a very far cry from the excruciatingly hot environment of the City of Cagayan de Oro, which is only about an hour's leisurely drive away.