Why is the Philippines still richer and look a lot more modern than Vietnam
Ngo The Hoan, Software Engineer with an interest in history
Because many Filipinos love to dig out photos of Vietnam like this:
They then proceed to compare it with photos of their cities like this:
Then conclude that their country looks richer and more developed. But the reality is much more complicated.
You see, each tiny white blob you see in the Vietnam photo is a private property. Something that looks like this on land:
They are called tube houses, a characteristic feature of Vietnamese cities. Tube houses came about due to people’s desire to make use of their small land. The more money you have, the more you build up.
The go nment is lenient, allowing you to build as many storeys as you like. So it’ completely normal to wake up one day and find your window blocked off because your neighbour decides to add another storey.
So why is this important to this discussion?
These houses are almost always used as commercial properties as well as place of resident if it is facing a street. Which means at least 50% of the small white blobs you see are commercial properties and businesses, at least 70% of them have uses other than residential. Their value will only go up and up as Vietnam’s economy grows. And they have been, which is why the number of rich people grow exponentially in Vietnam.
Importance of land value and home ownership
Have you ever wondered why there are so many family owned hotels and guest houses in Vietnam?
Because the tube houses were turned into a hotel business by the family.
If the business doesn’t do well? Well they can close it and turn the lower floor into a phone shop, the second floor into a childcare centre etc etc
Every single business you see in this photo is someone’s house:
If you look at the first Vietnam skyline photo, you’re probably thinking that Vietnamese cities have no trees. But quite the opposite, the trees simply got blocked off by the height of the tube houses. So the only trees you see are parks.
And you must be thinking the tall tube houses only exist in Hanoi and HCMC, but not at all. The tube houses turned businesses are all over Vietnam.
Notice the tube houses on two sides are as tall as the go nment building in the middle.
So to Filipinos, Vietnam might look poorer than the Philippines because their definition of rich and developed is tall skyscrapers and many cars on the roads.
But to Vietnamese people, we understand that tall skyscrapers don’t mean they are richer. Because people who own those skyscrapers belong to the 1%.
But people who own Vietnamese tube houses are at least 90% of our population. And people who own tube houses that can be turned into a business is at least 80%.
So to answer this question: looking rich is a perception. So our definition of looking rich is actually different from Filipinos, as seen through many answers here.
To determine which country is really richer, I guess we will have to wait until the Vietnam and Philippines new GDP is announced next year, as both Vietnam and Philippines are undergoing GDP revision. Either way it’s best for both countries to continue to improve the lives of their citizens, as richer citizens are synonymous with richer countries.
Hoàng Ngọc Tường Vy, former Owner
Why is the Philippines still richer than Viet Nam? Because the Philippines IS still richer than Viet Nam. To answer this question in an objective, non-political manner, we can make a very simple example for easy comparison.
I don’t know both Viet Nam’s and the Philippines’ GDP before 1945. To make it easy, let’s say the two countries had relatively equal GDP in 1945. The Philippines, like other countries, didn’t have to overcome 30 years of terrible continuous wars like Viet Nam.
To keep it short and simple, I will not mention 2 wars after 1975. After the Reunion war in 1975, under the US embargo - which was lifted 19 years later in 1994, Viet Nam had to build everything almost from scratch. Regarding economic and infrastructure development, not many things can happen overnight. So if we take 1994 as the start point for economic development, Viet Nam has started developing only for 25 years. Although there are positive comments on recent development all over the country, as you can see, Viet Nam still has a lot to do to become rich.
If we compare 2 students who both graduated in 1945, one started working for money and skills right after school. The other was pulled into continuous wars, abandoned by community another 19 years, finally started working in 1994, who do you think would be richer by now?
I’d be really proud to know that Viet Nam is richer than the Philippines or any other country. However, for a country to get rich, it takes a lot of critical factors including time. I don’t know who you are but please do what you can to make your country rich and strong.
Hope this entertains you in some way.
Rick Almeda, former Assistant Cashier at Metrobank (2001-2003)
Because we Filipinos had a headstart when it comes to opening up the Economy and Modernization. After World war 2; our Economy opened up to World Trade and Westernization. Many of our Intellectuals studied in the West and brought home modern ideas into building Infrastructures and upgrading the Economy in general. As a matter of fact; our Rice technology was highly advanced in Asia; more so than Japan which was just recovering from the War. However; since the 1970’s’ our Economy stagnated because of poor leadership and infighting among different political factions in our country. We were Modern’ yes but not as Rich as in the 1960’s.
Vietnam; on the other hand; was terribly devastated by the War. Everyone knows the conflict between the US and North Vietnam before. After the Vietnam War; the Communist party there took leadership of the whole country. So by the 1990’s Vietnamese officials opened up their Country gradually to the West. it seems that their opening up uplifted many Vietnamese out of Poverty. They are starting to Recover and Rebuild their Country much like China did in the 1980’s.
I have visited Vietnam a number of times already. Truth be told; the Philippines has more modern infrastructure than Vietnam. HOWEVER; The Vietnamese are catching up FAST. They have infrastructures in Ho chi minh (The Saigon tower) and in Nha Trang (Cable car to an island) that we in the Philippines dont have. In a few years’ time; I believe Vietnam may overtake the Philippines when it comes to Modernization because many Multinational companies plan to shift their production from China to Vietnam. Vietnamese GDP would increase substantially as a result.
Mon Querubin, lives in The Philippines
The Philippines has huge wealth gap as compared to Vietnam. So the wealthy in the Philippines are really rich while the poor are really really dirt poor. So in areas where there is so much wealth, the development is really high. In fact, almost all CBDs in the Philippines are built and designed and maintained by private corporations. This way, as such concentration of development is high.
Also, the development in Vietnam is implemented centrally and uniformly throughout the land. In the Philippines, the development is devolved to provincial levels so development of cities depends on the local go nment’s efforts. So you have hyper developed areas and really underdeveloped ones.
This is why, in areas with development, you can see really observe huge show of wealth in the Philippines. In Vietnam, though, development is much more uniform so roads from Hanoi to the provinces are usually good throughout unlike in the Philippines where the road quality depends on the place.
If you look down on poverty level, the Philippines have more poor than Vietnam. This is because Vietnam is developing all parts of its nation, unlike the Philippines where everything is given to Manila and scraps are given to the rest
William P. Durborow Jr., lives in The Philippines (2017-present)
Frankly, I'm not sure it does. Both countries have areas that maintain a modern and even opulent appearance, and both have areas that are still in their natural undeveloped state. I don't have first hand experience with Vietnam. I've only ever seen her coastline from a distance. The rest of what I know or believe is through the accounts of other people and the internet. I much of what is passed as facts there are filtered through the personal biases of others. I do have firsthand experience of the Philippines. It is a mix that ranges from the obscenely wealthy to those subsisting off the land. Don't let appearances fool you. The man surrounded by family that love him is richer than him with fattest wallet.
Thao Nguyen, former Worker at VinFast
Unfortunately it’s true im Vietnamese and compared to other answers here I don’t feel richer than the philippines because there gdp is higher and gdp per capita and human develoment is higher . Manila also has mrt and LRT system while Vietnam still nothing operational. Manila is a lot more modern than any city in Vietnam because the amount of roads flyovers big malls skyscrapers and infrastructure available compared to Vietnam.
I am Chinese National doing business in southeast Asia when I had vacation in both countries Philippine look richer and more modern than Vietnam because they had longer peaceful economic growth than Vietnam and Vietnam has one of the most corrupt go nments in Asia even today.
Nguyen Duong Vu, Software Engineer - Senior Web Developer
Because of co ption is very bad in Vietnam. Government corporations always make huge debt & loss. If there are no co ption & go nment corporations, Vietnam can be as good as Malaysia or even Singapore.
Danh Dang, studied at Ho Chi Minh City
I’m Vietnamese and I feel we are still behind the philippines but slowly catching up but the future is grim because of Covid - 19.
Also to the user saying 90% live in the famous tube houses that is not true and i suggest you stop lying because I live here and I know for a fact only 0.2% of people live in those.