The Philippines is a land of contrasts. It is an island country rich in natural resources and biodiversity, yet its sprawling territory is prone to natural disasters including volcanic eruptions, floods and typhoons. For the past 15 years, the country has experienced fairly strong economic growth and has weathered major events like the global financial crisis, but the benefits of growth have not filtered down to most of the people. Poverty is still a serious problem, affecting tens of millions of people.

The Philippines achieved independence from the United States in 1946 and has chosen its government through elections since the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. It has not enjoyed much stability for many years, however, and is plagued by corruption.

The population of the Philippines now exceeds 100 million and there is a huge diaspora; this overseas workforce sends home remittances worth billions of dollars each year, an income that the country”s economy and many families depend on.

CJI supports a project at a School of Medicine in Mindanao. It has a unique program requiring medical students to spend a lot of time in rural communities learning about basic health needs. Mindanao is also an area where Moro Muslim rebels have been fighting a separatist war for decades. Sporadic violence continues despite peace efforts.

Through the Xavier Network, CJI also supports a rehabilitation and development project in Culion, where people are rebuilding their lives following the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda.

Photo: Zarah Alih/JRS