ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Land Reform and Consumption Leakages

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The land reforms for rice farmers implemented during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines were considered as a success story by several writers, including by me in my PhD thesis. But, there was one exception that I did not include in my thesis. I understood the exception when I was visiting farms near Cabanatuan City in Central Luzon.

I was staying for one night at a nice motel, which also had a nightclub. While I was drinking San Miguel Beer with my research assistant, the owner of the hotel got interested in talking with me; it was rare to see people with my Indian-style thick beard in the Philippines in those days. He offered me free beer and asked what my business in the city was. I told him that I was collecting information about high-yielding varieties of rice and about the impact of land reforms. He laughed and said that the land reforms had failed in his area and asked me to look at the young people in the nightclub drinking beer and playing games of bowling. Also, a Filipino singer was singing and some American soldiers from the Vietnam war on R&R (Rest and Recuperation) were also enjoying the place.

The owner of the nightclub said that he had a 5,000-acre farm, which was taken away during the land reform and for which he received some monetary compensation. Using that money, he built the nightclub and also a nearby motel. He said that the poor farmers got his land free and suddenly their income increased. But, he asked me to see where they were spending their incremental income. They were obviously spending it in his club almost every night visiting from 5 pm till midnight, when the martial law became operational. He was again becoming rich, while the farmers’ income was not increasing much.

Chandrashekhar G Ranade

Washington, DC

Updated On : 10th Aug, 2018

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