Economic boom spreads wealth wider in Philippines

July 3, 2013 • Business

In this May 17, 2013 photo, trading continues at the Philippine Stock Exchange at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines. As the Philippine economy skyrocketed 7.8 percent in the first quarter, outpacing China, the middle class in the Southeast Asian nation that has been held back by widespread poverty, political strife and corruption is for the first time in decades reaping the profits of an economic boom. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Just three years ago, a new car and an overseas holiday were unthinkable luxuries for J. Ante and her family of six. The insurance company manager’s commissions have soared since then as the Philippines, blighted for a generation by venal and incompetent leaders, has unexpectedly boomed, putting middle-class comforts within tantalizing reach of many.

The $250 billion economy surged 7.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, outpacing China, and a middle class stunted by widespread poverty, political strife and corruption is beginning to share in a prosperity captured for decades by a clannish business and political elite.

The growing affluence and a burgeoning population have lured many global brands. Students and office workers flock to gleaming outlets opened by Zara, Gap, Forever 21, Starbucks and Japan’s Uniqlo. New apartment blocks are springing up on almost every corner of metropolitan Manila and other cities, often clustered around malls and office buildings housing outsourcing businesses such as call centers, which are forecast to earn around $25 billion by 2016.

Luxury car maker Rolls Royce said it was flooded with inquiries since it opened its first dealership in Manila two weeks ago. The first car Login to read more

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