Tagalog - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. There have been extensive changes in rural areas since independence, brought on by improved communication, roads, and expansion of electrical power resources. There are several distinct types of land use. North of Manila, the Tagalog provinces form the southern edge of the "rice bowl" of the Philippines. South and west of Manila the provinces of Cavite and Batangas form a predominantly upland dry-farming and fruit-producing region. The latter is noted for its peddlers, who have traditionally roved the length and breadth of Luzon. To the south and east is a mixed region of sugarcane, coconuts, and terraced rice. In many areas mechanization is replacing water buffalo, horses, and oxen. Fishing, both deep-water and riverine, is important wherever possible. There is an almost unending inventory of local enterprises, including production of salt, vinegar, hard-boiled and fertilized duck eggs ( balut, a national delicacy), alcoholic beverages, clothing and mosquito netting, implements, and containers. Commercial activities on a large scale take place mostly in Manila, but there are regional centers for the commercial processing of copra, sugarcane, and other products. Rice is a basic commodity around which life is oriented. Many Tagalog families living in Manila or other nonagricultural areas usually have ties to one or more rural communities within commuting distance and receive a share of crops raised by their relatives or tenants.

Industrial Arts. For centuries even remote communities have been part of networks of trade because people depended on the markets for things they could not make for themselves. There have been, however, certain regional specialties, for example the famous balisong, a collapsible pocket knife made in the province of Batangas, and the wood carving of the towns of Laguna Province, just south of Manila.

Trade. The ancient, highly developed, and fascinating market system connects local networks to Manila and its international port. A crucial commercial relationship is the institution of the suki, a self-reciprocal term referring to the tie between a seller and a regular customer. Overseas Chinese have been important in trade and financial institutions over the centuries.

Division of Labor. Division of labor ( hanapbuhay , occupation) by gender is highly variable. Both men and women hold professional positions in medicine, law, education, and politics. Traditionally, men in lowland rice areas were responsible for the care of irrigation systems, preparation of fields, and heavier work (although women could participate). Teenaged women under the supervision of an older woman planted, and everyone harvested. In some upland areas, however, planting and harvesting were not divided so specifically. New methods of rice production are bringing about changes in all of this. Sugarcane production is usually a commercial enterprise requiring seasonally determined wage labor. Copra production, intensive fishing, and fish-pond management are predominantly male occupations. In general, division of labor within the family is highly contingent; either gender can be called upon for both household duties and economic activities. Women often control family finances and enterprises.

Land Tenure. Patterns of ownership and rights to the use of land are also variable. In pre-Spanish times usufruct operated in both lowland and upland areas because both paddies and swiddens were prepared on new land. During the Spanish period, with its imposed regulations and land grants, large areas of land came under the ownership of a relatively few Tagalog and non-Tagalog families and the various religious orders. Thus most Tagalogs came to live on land that belonged to someone else and worked the land either as tenants or as paid laborers. Frequently, the tenancy rights were inherited according to local custom within interrelated extended families. Cadastral surveys over the years have established legal boundaries, often with permanent markers. Since the early twentieth century, legislation has slowly caused division of some large holdings. Further, in some regions tenants have been able to buy the land, often renting it as a tenancy to others.

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