July 3, 2014 12:00 am JST

Once the 'sick man of Asia,' the Philippines is starting to fulfill its promise

For decades, the Philippines never quite measured up, particularly when compared with its economically dynamic neighbors.

     But things may finally be changing. Last year, the island nation of nearly 100 million people saw its gross domestic product grow 7.2%, just half a percentage point slower than China. The strong performance is backed by remittances from its industrious workers abroad, who sent home more than $20 billion in 2013, or roughly 10% of GDP. At home, an English-speaking workforce is also generating cash. The outsourcing industry is now worth about as much as those precious overseas remittances.

     President Benigno Aquino's drive against graft is restoring faith in government, and his fiscal reforms have earned investment-grade status for the country's debt. While poverty still shackles far too many, the Philippines looks poised to live up to its potential at last.