PH: Highest Pornhub user, social media user, high teen pregnancy, lowest test scores?

No problem, blame Duterte, blame China!

Why not? We already blamed them for everything else, they should be good for a few years more… after all, we were able to blame Spain and the United States colonialism for a few decades each.

Some weeks ago, this writer wrote about three glowing world championships in a month we Filipinos should be so proud of (  But this last month, we had another three championships that are reasons to be embarrassed about (although this should not tarnish our congratulations to our athletes who are doing well in the Southeast Asian Games!).

1. Filipinos are the top users of internet and social media,  according to Digital 2019 report — averaging 10 hours a day on the internet, 4.6 hours a day on social media versus a world average of 6.5 hours, the US at 6.4 hours and China at 5.5 hours.  The Philippines has the highest social media penetration in the world at 71 percent, above the worldwide average of 45 percent.  Given other observations that the use is mostly for Facebook, Youtube, Netflix, etc. and primarily for selfies, greetings, pictures, political discussions, social purposes than learning or executing work, this is an amazing amount of unproductive time.  Partially to blame is traffic instead of spending time with family, friends or doing things.

2. Very high teen pregnancies.  The PH Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that in 2019, one in 10 Filipinas between 15 and 19 is a mother, with as high as 18 percent in some areas. While our population average fertility rate declined from over five children per female to about 3.3 last year, given that the urban level is less than two, it means that provincial birth rates are still at about 4 and above.

Noting further that the educated woman of a higher income has less than the average, this means only about 1.5 children from mothers from this category.  Related and correlated to this, website Pornhub reported that for the last few years, Filipinos spent the most time on this No. 1 porn site.  Also, there is a very large number of single mothers, often taking care of not one but many offspring,  of several men, often hardly helping finance or raise the child.

3. Second-lowest education achievement of 79 countries.  This is the most alarming of the three  news.   (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment in a test conducted among students in 79 countries, the Philippines ranked lowest in reading comprehension and second to the lowest in both math and science.

This confirms that there hasn’t been improvement in our quality of education in the last 15 years since we last joined studies Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMSS), where we also ranked close to the bottom.

Our ranking was so low it took me a while to scroll down to our bars in the charts.  OMGx3!  But we’re an English-medium-of instruction country?  Well, that’s a feat! Maybe we would have ranked higher in French and Korean, which many of our students take as their second language… Meanwhile, four China regions — Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang — and Singapore — topped the rankings, way ahead of most Western nations.

JC Punongbayan points out that  “72 percent of our students (versus 56 percent in OECD) worry about what others think of them…. while only 31 percent of our students (versus 63 percent in OECD) supposedly hold a “growth mindset” — meaning students think they can improve their intelligence through hard work.”  We all intuitively believe these attitudes affect performance, and propose that enculturation should be part of education.

There is an overall finding that richer students have been found to do better than those less well to do, but on the more detailed level, the OECD study also said that the most socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the Top 4 performing regions actually outperformed even the most socially advantaged students in some of the developed countries!  This is a clear indication that a strong determined character or culture  can not only overcome all kinds of generally accepted obstacles, but even use disadvantages as a driving force to excel!

Worst of all, PH was ranked as the “Third Most Ignorant” of key issues, but “Most Confident” in their answers, according to Indy100 surveying 38 countries in 2017.  We don’t know but believe we know!  Our opinion surveys should not be basis for intelligent decisions.

The Good News?  There’s always someone or something to blame, we’ll never run out of excuses.  Maybe our misfortunes can make us emote better or be more eloquent when we perform.  We are still not the worst in every category, just in one out of three, etc…


The three reports are an excellent dashboard, and they are blinking red alarms, not just wake-up calls, but calls to action.  If we don’t move, our economic foundations may be swept by the growing tides of conflict, larger economies, and technology.  If we don’t enculturate the people, there will be greater gaps between those who understand the system and grow rich, and those who don’t live out the priorities, who will become an underclass.  Instabilities will arise and make every event a crisis.  Some powers would like this to happen so that the Philippines will be easier to be moved in alignment with their interests.  We should instead strengthen ourselves, to make their moves to align with our interests, the Filipinos’ well-being!

Maybe we will galvanize our efforts finally as a nation and move together even imperfectly, and plan wholistically, and keep adjusting quickly as we go.  Reasons for failure are just excuses, which have been overcome by others, who have not just survived but excelled.  Poor uneducated people subject to war and bullying have become tycoons and luminaries.  War-torn countries have become economic powerhouses, rich countries have declined into huge deficits and continuous war.  Authoritarian governments have developed into prosperous countries whose people have done better than democratic ones.  Corruption and nepotism have not stopped the building of great nations, although meritocracies are preferable.  As people concentrate on work instead of politics, economies grow and people’s lives are better.  There is no such thing as perfection or a straight line upward that critics like to talk about, instead of just engaging in work.

Duterte’s free education, universal health coverage, infrastructure programs, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s discipline in taxation, Fidel Ramos’ liberalization of telecom and finance, and Corazon Aquino’s land reform, are all building blocks.  But as we move forward, the world is moving even faster.  We need the individual Filipino to stop depending on saviors and government, and to join the efforts.  Our model cannot only be the Western models of development that will be very difficult for us to apply, whereas there are robust Asian models of development and decision systems that are more easily applied, over wider ranges of conditions, at lower costs.


What are some potentially easy-to-apply steps that have been proven? Hope you will join and also give your inputs

George Siy is a Wharton-educated industrialist, international trade practitioner and negotiator, serving as director of the Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI). He has advised the Philippines and various organizations in trade negotiations with Southeast Asia, Japan and the United States.

(Part of the series: “Managing by surveys can destroy the country: Ignorant, Emotional but Highly Confident?… Thanks for your feedback & sharing!

New Worlds by IDSI aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities, and attempt for common good, culture, and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks.

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