OR HASSLE and walking dead economy. This is how I characterized the predominantly vending and servicing economy of Bacolod and Negros.
It’s not employment and surplus generating system which supposed to help build the foundations for a comprehensive and sustainable economic development. We don’t have that.
And I’m not even talking yet of the inclusivity of development because then it will even be a bigger slap on the face of the concerned development planners and officials.
From sidewalk stall shops, cellphone and electronic gadgets repair shops, sari-sari stores, roadside eateries to restaurants, food shops and fastfood centers, groceries, pharmacies, distributor shops, assembly plants, buy and cell commandoes, mosquito lending and microfinancing groups, wet markets, convenience stores and supermalls or big vending centers.
Go to secondary cities and towns, you see the same, or maybe less. No hassle but no dazzle either.
These are mostly and mainly vending stores and service shops, owned mostly by the big businesses and few by the selfemployed small entrepreneurs and franchisers. Big malls are just the bigger version of sari sari stores, mainly service and retail. They don’t generate gainful and stable jobs, and contribute less to the local economy. Worse, many of them, engage in contractual job and flexible job arrangements where workers are always the losers.
In the context of monocrop sugar-based economy of Negros, the ebb and flow of the retail and service shops are largely dependent on the former. During the tiempo muerto or dead season which is more or less from May to August, where there is not much work in the sugar farms and mills, the retail and service economy drops significantly, and the sugar district more prominently looks like having ghost centers.
Without the government sector employees and the OFWS’
remittances, where Bacolod and Negros have 3-5 OFW per family (father, mother, siblings, close kin), the local economy could hardly survive, it’s only floating on its belly so to speak.
So no matter what and how the business community, business speculators and the government officials boast of our local economic growth, there is really not much to brag about.
It’s all a hassle, spiral and zombie economy, and the same grim picture repeats each year.
But the defenders of this zombie economy is quick to argue that “look how the long stretch of Lacson ave has turned colorful and busy, the rise of the east bloc around government center, the huge traffic jam in major thoroughfares, and the entry of big mall, hotel, condo projects by known national developers, etc.”.
Have they increased solid, stable and sustainable employment? Have they built our local manufacturing and agriculture? Have they benefitted a wider segment of our population, especially the majority marginalized sectors?
Obviously, not. What is unfortunate, most of them are quick to rise and vanished quickly. I have made scanning of these places several times, and lately I’ve found out that many have closed shops, and quite a number of condos and buildings have no occupants.
This zombie economy just goodtime our people on digital technologies and so-called amenities of modern life while wallow in slave and cheap labor. This economy never prepares our people for long term, integrative, inclusive and humane development.
This is a kind of economy that only benefits developers, construction companies, real estate people, entertainment hubs, the brokers between them and the local government officials and would-be client-victims, and the corrupt politicians.
To have a truly comprehensive, integrative, inclusive, humane and transformative economic development, we should look towards a comprehensive and balanced development of our agriculture, manufacturing industry and service economy.
This is why, there is an urgent need to review all comprehensive land use plan and comprehensive development plan of all cities and towns, before any further constructions are committed to developers.
Meantime, I challenge them to regulate our energy and water to small revenue generating business establishments, and also a stop to the conversion of our valuable agri lands to subdivisions, malls, golf clubs, and entertainment hubs.
Put money where it counts most, and matters most to our people, not to the few rapacious corporations.*