The Intertwining of Family, Social, and Business Interests in Promoting Trade

Author: Hodder, R.N.W.
Although it may occasionally generate useful empirical material with which to illustrate generic theoretical developments, the Philippines is rarely viewed as being anything more than a minor branch of area studies. Even the question of trade between this small and weak member of Southeast Asia, and China (a true economic giant), has attracted comparatively little attention in the academic literature.

Yet the Philippines is of great importance to the wider Pacific region. It occupies a unique strategic position; it is predominantly catholic; it is strongly influenced by, and oriented towards, the Americas; and the Filipinos have formed communities in many countries throughout the world from Australia to Japan, from West Africa to Italy. Overseas Chinese, it is said, command the domestic economy. These are matters which, as China’s economic, political and military strength grows, will require academics to take a broader and deeper interest in the Philippines and its people.

This book contributes to the development of this interest in the archipelago. Its immediate purpose is to examine business organization, the practice of trade, and the political support of these activities, within and between the Philippines and China. As noted in the preface, this is a book with many aspects. It suggests that the heavy concentration on social relationships in everyday life in the Philippines compels social science to focus on the nature of social relationships and their instrumental and affective qualities. The experience of everyday life in the Philippines, and the emphasis on social relationships, also suggest that our instrumental and affective attitudes toward relationships cannot be cleanly separated from each other; our relationships are the substance of the social world; and without the choice to eschew instrumentalism, the affective comes to mean very little.

In setting out the play of relationships, representations, and attitudes, this book begins to detail the nature of complexity and uncertainly in the social world, and the reasons why events on the ground differ so far, and so often, from our expectations. It also begins to uncover what the meaning of those deviations might be. Thus, Chinese dominance of economic activities, and the essentially corrupt, patrimonial, and factionalized nature of the Philippine economy, when viewed as representations which inform the detail of practice, takes on significance. What are taken to be the commonalities underlying this complexity, uncertainty and apparent differences are also revealed. Thus, in both the Philippines and China, we begin to see striking similarities in economic and social practice irrespective of ethnicity, international borders and time, and while in the authoritarianism of economic and political institutions and practice in both the Philippines and China, we find the seeds of liberalism.


“The question of the Philippine position – economic, political and strategic – in relation to China is central to the Philippines’ medium- and long-term future. This book tackles this question in a novel and stimulating way and forms a complex but sound piece of scholarship. It breaks down economic and political institutions into its social components and presents a broad view of the social world. More interestingly, it acknowledges the damage that patron-client personalistic relationships have done to the political economy, but also accepts that western formalism creates its own dangers and instabilities. This book takes a good look into the political transformations of China and the Philippines, and provides a take-off point into charting future directions for both nations ...” – (from the Foreword) Hon. Edgardo J. Angara, Senator, Republic of the Philippines

“This book is a timely addition to the comprehensive studies made that did intelligent comparisons of the political economies of two of the more dynamic nations in Asia. It is fascinating to note how the Philippines reacts not only to the emergence of an economic superpower that is not from the West, but more interestingly at how it recognizes the significance of Chinese citizens who dominate and greatly influence the affairs of the Philippine trade. This book provides a scholarly analysis of the behavior of business and political institutions within China and the Philippines as they transform to adjust toward formalizing their conduct of commerce in line with the westernization of world trade ...” – Hon. Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, Senator, Republic of the Philippines

“ ... this book convincingly argues that the economic significance of the Chinese in the Philippines is commonly exaggerated and that although political institutions are often too informal, the adoption of western-style formalism may not provide the answers that we need … It is with fervent hope that many people, from the government and academe down to the ordinary reader, would appreciate this book at either the practical or philosophical level. The knowledge and understanding we can gain from this book would be precisely the kind of information that the Philippines needs at this very crucial stage in our development.” – Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Republic of the Philippines

“The book proceeds with a scholarly and well-researched discussion as it examines the business organization, the practice of trade and the political support of these activities in both countries. This may help researchers, policy analysts, social scientists and even those ordinary readers who may want to add to their knowledge a better appreciation of two Asian countries that both have had a long and colorful history ...” – Sen. Rodolfo G. Biazon, Republic of the Philippines

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Commendatory Preface by Hon. Edgardo J. Angara
1. Representation, Attitudes, and Relationships
2. Thought
3. The Overseas Chinese
4. Business and Relationships
5. Political Transformation: China
6. Political Transformation: The Philippines
7. Conclusions