MANILA, Philippines — Luzon regions with significant Ilocano migrations have been shown to have the highest volumes of individual savings in the latest study of the country’s leading data collector.
People in Ilocandia itself, composed of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union, ranked number six among the most frugal and the biggest savers among the country’s 17 regions.
A study by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) spearheaded by Secretary General Romulo A. Virola released this month showed that most of the high-volume savers in the country come from the Ilocano-speaking people of the Cordillera Autonomous Region and Cagayan Valley; the province mates of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao from SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City); Central Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula.
The NSCB study, based on the Family Income and Expenditures Survey (FIES) from 2003, 2006 and 2009, showed that people from Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province of CAR consistently topped the rankings among Filipino savers with chart-topping average savings-to-income ratio of 0.234 or P23.40 saved for every P100 they earn or more than half of the national average of P15 and P16.
Region II, which is composed of Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, came in second with an average savings of P21.20.
Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao, an Ibanag, said that the Cagayan Valley might have been influenced by their Ilocano neighbors. “Although Cagayan Valley is now Ilocanized, with Ilocano being the lingua franca, .we were told through during our childhöod to be like Ilocanos in their thriftiness and industry,” said Aggabao.
“I think Ilocanos learned to be thrifty because of the hardscrabble life they have. The regiön is not a known agricultural heavyweight — the fact is, only tobacco is known to grow in the area. Life was difficult then with few comforts and amenities. That prompted Ilocanos to always save for the morrow,” said Aggabao.
Aggabao’s province mate, Rep. Rodolfo Albano, said it was a mistake to typecast the Ilocanos as thrifty. “An Ilocano is just industrious. He doesn’t waste his time. That’s where he got his branding on thriftiness. Equally also, he is the tidiest person next to the Japanese, he even cleans his pan de sal with his coffee,” said Albano.
Pacquiao’s Region XII comes in at third with a savings average of P20.60; Region VII (Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor) was fourth with P19.90; and Region IX was fifth with P19.80. Trailing them were the Ilocanos with an average savings ratio of P18.70.
Virola stressed that the Cordillera and Cagayan regions were ranked 5th and 6th, respectively among the least poor regions in the country.
Virola said that the Cordillera and Cagayan regions “appear to exhibit extreme behavior …they are home to families who are the highest savers as well as the most lavish spenders.”
People who did not save in the Cordillera region spent P21.30 above the P100 they earned while the non-savers from Cagayan spent P16.60 over their P100 income. Non-savers from Pacquiaos’ region spent P22.50 abover every P100 they earned.
At the bottom of the top savers list are the Western Visayas (number 17 with P13.50), Bicol region (16th with P14.90), and Calabarzon or Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (15th with P15.90).
Albay Governor Joey Salecda was not alarmed that his province mates were at the bottom rung of savers. “Being 14th in poverty and 16th in savings rate is well within the bracket of reasonable economic behavior. Monetary analysis or fund flow does prove the limit of FIES as a statistic. Bangko Sentral figures show that in 2010, Bicol had P56 billion in savings but P13 billion in loans. It is thus a lender to the rest of the country with P43 billion.”
Salceda stressed that the disparity between regions in terms of savings-to-income ratio from a low of 0.175 to a high of 0.237 showed “interregional differential in savings rate is actually less dramatic than what the rank from 1 to 17 implicates. “With Cordillera region linguistically Ilocano, it does not impugn the long-held perception of a kuripot Ilocos,” said Salceda.