Philippines compared to other ASEAN nations
The Philippines is a charter member of ASEAN, having signed the Bangkok Declaration in 1967, giving rise to the birth of this regional cooperation among the original members, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. They were later joined by Vietnam, Brunei Darrussalam, Myanmar, Laos Peoples' Democratic Republic, and Cambodia. Today, ASEAN stands strong not just an economic integration mechanism but also as a political and regional security coordination forum, and a venue for cooperation in social and cultural affairs of more than 650 million people.
On population, the Philippines is second only to Indonesia which has no less than 256 million people. The Philippines' latest survey showed a population of 105 million Filipinos. Third placer in terms of number of people is Vietnam with 93 million. Thailand is number four with 66 million, and Myanmar is fifth with 52 million. The sixth is Malaysia with 32 million, followed by the seventh placer, Cambodia with 16 million nationals. No. 8 is Laos PDR with a population of only seven million, followed by Singapore, the strongest economy but with only six million population. The 10th placer and the tail-ender is the tiny sultanate of Brunei with a population of only half a million, more than one-half of whom are foreign workers consisting of Indonesians, Malaysians, and Filipinos, among others. This number of people is smaller than a barangay in Cebu City or Quezon City.
In terms of per capita income (gross domestic product divided by population), however, Brunei is number two among the 10 ASEAN members. The 2016-2017 figures of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index indicate that Brunei peoples' per capita income is a whopping 80,648 US dollars. Singaporeans are the topnotchers with 85,253 US dollars. One in every three families in Singapore is a billionaire. Ranking third are the Malaysians with a per capita income of 25,552 US dollars. Fourth place goes to Thailand whose per capita income is 16,959 US dollars. Indonesians gets the fifth place with 10,537 US dollars in per capita income.
Filipinos are at sixth, with a per capita income of 8,325 US dollars. The Vietnamese occupy the seventh place with a per capita income of 5,957 US dollars, followed by Laos PDR with 5.748 US dollars per capita, and Myanmar with 5,514 US dollars. The lowest per capita income among Asean countries belongs to Cambodia with 3,340 US dollars. Cambodia is a very poor country, and appears to be the least developed among the ASEAN 10.
To be in the second place on population and in the sixth place in terms of per capita income is not really an enviable position. The Philippines must hurry up and shape up, otherwise Vietnam may soon overtake us and put us in the company of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. We have all the pressures to do better, and we cannot delay our rise to the top three in ASEAN.