Tag Archives: internship

Present a valid ID, please!

When opening a bank account in the Philippines, you will need at least two valid IDs to prove your existence and identity before you will be accepted. Unfortunately, 14% of the population is not able to present these files, even though there are 25 different recognized valid ID systems. How come and what is the government doing to change this?

What ID do you need?

When you’re born, your parents receive a birth certificate. When you register to vote, you get your voter’s ID. When you pass your driver’s license test, you apply for your driver’s license. But to obtain this license, you will have to present a valid ID. These are three of the 25 valid ID systems in the Philippines. Some of them you acquire by occasions, others you apply for. Half of these ID systems are paper-based, some have a picture, others don’t. Some require a high payment to obtain them, others don’t, and so on. In other words, getting a valid ID in the Philippines seems easy, owning the right ones might be a bit more difficult. Let me explain to you exactly what the problem is.

Lack of documentation

The Philippines has no general valid ID. Instead, there is a list of 25 different kinds of functional ID systems. To benefit many public and private transactions, one or multiple valid ID cards are necessary.

Many people lose their birth certificate or do not own other valid ID systems and therefore lack documentation. Because they do not possess these documents, they cannot apply for financial services and are excluded from many public and private services.  According to a study from the World Bank’s ID for Development group, 14% of Filipinos (15.123.523 Filipinos) are denied of government and other financial services because of this. This causes even bigger financial illiteracy and marginalization of the poor.

The Artisans at rags2Riches

The artisans at Rags2Riches are part of that 14% which means they have no possibility to open up a bank or savings account. To help them grow financially, Rags2Riches wants to teach them financial literacy, so that they can be independent in the long run and prepared for big investments or emergencies. Unfortunately, the artisans were not allowed to open a savings account, because many lost their birth certificate due to fire or damage or they had not enough documentation. Thanks to a partnership with Card Bank, Rags2Riches was able to open a savings account for every artisan and employee.

How about the others?

Unfortunately, not all people are lucky enough to have help to have access to financial services. The Filipino government has been talking about a general ID for years, but the bill never passed. Due to worries about privacy, the government was never able to form a law creating one valid government-issued ID.

At last

On August 6, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the bill that will establish a national ID system, called PhilSys. Once this happens, there will be only one valid ID for all Filipinos. Therefore Filipinos will only need to show that ID card upon request of ID and will have sufficient proof of identity. By creating this national ID system, public and private services will become more accessible and efficient. Besides improving services, the government also aims to fight corruption, prevent fraud and make doing business in the Philippines easier.

To set up the system, all citizens and resident aliens will have to register one year after the law takes effect. Once registered, the person will get a Philsys number and a physical Identification card with a chip that contains all basic information. All people born after the law takes effect will immediately be registered when born.

Ito si Poch

Ito si Poch

Translate to English:

"This is Poch"

To fully know how I live here in the Philippines, you would have to come here and meet my friends. The fun part about having local friends is the conversations about their culture, their politics and how they want to make a difference. It’s always nice to know what they think foreigners should know about their country. But because coming here and meeting my friends is not as easily done as said, I will take the time to introduce to you: Poch, the person who helped me understand the Filipino culture and who is always in for a deep conversation about everything.

Who’s that guy?

Poch is an architect, based in Manila. Although he is 27 years old, he only graduated last year. After graduating from International business, he realized his passion was in architecture and started studying again. He has been working as an aspiring architect/contractor for the past year. When you ask Poch what his favorite thing about the Philippines is, he’ll tell you it’s the people, without a doubt.

“I like the people. The Filipinos are my favorite, they’re friendly and smiling all the time. Of course, most are shy and some are mean, some are funny mean, but once you break down their walls they are an amazing people who would share a piece of their life and culture with you easily.”

I met Poch, in a small island north of Cebu, where we both were working on projects for the local community. I was working with the women who weave Banig (a mat woven out of dried plant leaves) while he was working with a team of architects to build an eco-resort on the island. Before the architects arrived on the Island, I had been living there with the locals for three weeks already. So after all these impressions, I had a very good conversation with Poch about the culture and the people. Ever since he has been the friend to go to when struggling to understand things about the culture or to learn from when new political events happen.

Adversity builds character

When talking to Poch, you’ll easily hear he’s not going to tell you the Philippines is a beautiful country with amazing people and everything is going great. He’s realistic and honest about how things are going in the country. When you ask him what foreigners should know about the Philippines he’ll be bluntly honest:

“Geologically, The Philippines gets hit by 27 small to extremely big typhoons every year. It’s located directly on the pacific ring of fire which means it gets hit by earthquakes pretty easily. The UN thinks our government is doing a really bad job. There’s massive corruption everywhere. Industries lose billions of pesos just because of daily-debilitating traffic (it takes an hour to travel 4 miles by car on rush hour). We have dengue fever and to top it all off, Pacquiao – the most famous boxer in the country and everyone’s favorite little Filipino –  broadcasts to the world that being gay is a sin. It’s a sin because God said so and animals are better than us because they have no homosexuals.

A little girl schooled him online and posted a list of ALL REAL animals who have homosexuality cases. He apologized of course.

There are a lot of reasons to hate the Philippines, but even though the systems at play are all failing and falling apart, we still have barangay fiestas, where you can celebrate at your neighbors’ house, eat Lechon and move to the next house. We still have Despedida (a goodbye party), always, for friends who leave. We still have facebook. (Filipinos spend hours on social media, it’s hilarious).  We still have a dark but beautifully woven history. We still have sisig and leche flan.

The media call it resilience, I call it stupidly and unapologetically happy. The Philippines isn’t known for the economy and sometimes not even for the culture. Most of the time its nature (the beaches and mountains), but the people who actually experienced the Philippines will tell you it should be known for its people. Cheerful, friendly with a whole lot of idiotic and shameless humor. Short, loud and always smiling, that’s the Filipinos. We have a lot of problems. But what place doesn’t have any. We’ll make it better. After all, this is the Philippine mantra… “We’ll be fine.”“

Change is coming

When looking at the skyline of Manila, you would wonder how an architect can make a difference in this country with such congested cities. While Poch isn’t always positive about the current situation in the Philippines, when you ask him how he sees the future, he has hope and is excited:

As I said before, we Filipinos have always been considered resilient. We’re always happy. We make the most of what we have. I believe that, for us to evolve, we have to share that more: to other people, to the environment. We have to spread resilience and joy and genuine care. In my field of work, I would like to be part of that evolution by designing and creating smart socialized housing, agricultural tourism, green infrastructure and a whole lot more. The major cities of the country are too congested and are facing a very constricted lifestyle. Which is why I want to spread construction and commerce to the outskirts. To the rural grassroots.”

Have a drink, let’s chat

My opinion about the Philippines evolved a lot during the months I spent there. Although I only introduced one of my friends here, I have many more who keep me ‘woke’ and informed and share their different opinions. While going for a drink with them, you’re able to have deep conversations about the current events, without being distracted by the white noise of the media.