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EGALITARIAN | The Mindanao growth story

I have been talking about GDP as an important but insufficient measurement of growth. 

It is my take that there are plenty of valuable things that are not captured in the determination of the GDP that defines our economic story. 

One of which is our slowly-stabilizing communities that were once the cause of concern in terms of safety and security, our effort to sustain our growth and our determination to move past the bottleneck of poverty.

The recent Philippine Statistics Authority posted a 7.2 percent growth rate of Mindanao for 2022, lower than the 7.6 percent national average for that year. The figure translates into 17 percent contribution to the national total. Of course, this percentage won’t make any impressive difference as a matter of contribution.

However, what makes it surprising, elatedly though, is that the 17 percent growth contribution to national total carries 330 Billion pesos’ worth of domestic income in 2022, bigger than the output in 2021. 

With the three hundred billion increase in the GDP making the island a $61 billion economy, Mindanao stands almost the size of the countries like Turkmenistan in Central Asia ($60.26B), Latin America’s Venezuela (43.54B), Europe’s Latvia ($ 40.83). 

Mindanao is bigger than Asia’s Nepal ($36.296B), 3.8 times bigger than its neighbor Brunei Darussalam ($16.26 B) and twice bigger than Europe’s Iceland ($27.17B).

These comparisons, that of Mindanao, which is part of the greater Philippines, can match the countries mentioned in terms of production with the capacities of Mindanao.

And if we are growing bigger by the year, it is of considerable intention for every one of us to keep this growth momentum sustained. 

Jim Collins, in his book “Good to Great,” offers the flywheel effect. 

It describes the situation when momentum kicks in owing to small and marginal achievements, and when these small victories accumulate over a period, sustained progress and growth are achieved.

Collins, a leadership guru, perhaps is talking to the people of Mindanao and its leaders directly, so to speak. Why? It is because he is talking about achieving great undertakings by extending care on the gains of small victories. 

We’ve won over the electricity shortage; we are winning against the ideological tensions espoused by the Maoist groups. We are winning in keeping people feel safe, the investments secure, and children healthier than ever. 

The growth in the GDP is an indication that we are actually doing the right things and that, as the big economy that we are, we have to take advantage of the gifts that we all have. 

We have the Mindanao labor at its sweet spot — which other countries and multinational firms envy. That is why they are coming to Mindanao despite the encumbrances of costly electricity and limited direct flights, being complicated by the unfavorable impressions of Mindanao by those who draw their information from the long past of Mindanao. 

If we are to go back to Collins to sustain the flywheel, we have to look into and take care of the macro fundamentals of Mindanao, which include safety and security, food-energy-water link, built capital including roads, bridges and ports, and technological capital that catapults nations into the bigger sphere of global integration and growth. 

These are the stories that are at the fringes of the GDP. The story that we, the people of Mindanao, should not ignore nor ever forget — our story of surviving, thriving, of winning.


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