The Philippines is the 12th most populated country in the world with 98.4 M people in 2013 and growing at the rate of 1.7% per year. Many are young: 33% were 0-14 years old while 20% were 15-24, according to the 2010 census by the Philippine Statistics Authority. Urbanization is the trend, with 45.3% of the population residing in urban areas in 2010, areas which are growing at an average annual rate of 4% compared to the 0.4% decline in rural areas (PSA, June 2013).
The Philippines is a lower middle income country with an “emerging economy.” GDP growth has been increasing—though slowly and erratically—reaching 7.2% in 2013, reportedly the second highest in Asia for that year according to Arsenio Balisacan, Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (2014). He, however, acknowledged that the government will not be able to meet its target of reducing poverty from 25% in 2012 to 17% by 2015.
The country is an archipelago with over 7,100 islands, many of which are remote and referred to as GIDAs (geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas). The islands are home to over 11 million indigenous peoples belonging to over 110 ethno-linguistic groups, according to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (n.d.). It is also considered a natural disaster “hot-
spot,” with about 50% of its total area and 81% of its population vulnerable to typhoon, flooding and earthquake; making it the third country most prone to disaster, after Vanuatu and Tonga.