Project Helping Hands has not sent teams to the Philippines in the past, but we plan to send our first medical and health education team to Ilagan, Isabela in 2012. Ilagan is the capital municipality and the largest town of Isabela (for land area and total population) located at the junction of the Cagayan and Pinacanauan Rivers.
The Philippines is an archipelago comprising some 7,100 islands with a total land area of almost 300,000 square kilometres. The most commonly spoken language in the Philippines is Filipino but English is also widely spoken, particularly in urban areas. There are some 87 ethnic languages and dialects spoken throughout the Philippines.
The proportion of the population living below US$1.25 a day in 2006 was 23 per cent or around 20 million people. At the same time, about 44 percent, or over 40 million Filipinos, were living on less than US$2 a day. While the Philippines was able to reduce poverty incidence from as high as 30 per cent in the early 1990s, the actual number of people living in poverty has increased over the last two decades. The global food and fuel price crises in 2007 and 2008, and the global economic crisis that followed, have pushed even more people into poverty. The economy took a further hit in late 2009, as the worst typhoon season in 40 years devastated Metro Manila and the agricultural heartland of the country.
About half of the Philippines’ 88 million people live in rural areas. Poverty is most severe and most widespread in these areas and almost 80 per cent of the country’s poor people live there. Agriculture is the primary and often only source of income for poor rural people, most of whom depend on subsistence farming and fishing for their livelihoods.