Our town has gone from a sleepy rice growing town to a town with one (soon, two) malls, McDonalds and a decent internet.
And our rice now can get grown easier with handplows, reapers and threshers (although we still plant by hand and harvest the wet fields by hand with help of our waterbuffalo). As our older famers retire, we often hire people from other areas of the Philippines.
And as our older farmers retire, often they sell their rice fields, because their kids no longer live here, often the fields are bought by "balikbayan", i.e. people who saved money from working overseas and now retire here.
But the down side to this: a lot of the prosperity here is thanks to remittances from our Overseas Foreign Workers.
MigrantsRights is posting a four part essay about our OFW in the Philippines.
Because of poverty, (and corruption) people can't find jobs, so seek a job elsewhere. They send money back home to support their extended families, who use the money for food, school fees, and to build a decent house.
And the "stuff" they send home is greatly welcomed.
They send "stuff" home to help their family, so a superficial outsider would lament they are destroying their family life for "stuff".
So one could be sarcastic and say: Hey the kids are brought up by the grandparents because mom and dad work overseas, but hey they have cellphones.
But when you are poor, the stuff means more than "stuff": It means hope for a better life...and the cellphones connect you to family and to the larger world, while your education means maybe you won't have to be a construction worker in Saudi, but can get a job closer to home in a callcenter in Manila, or maybe even get a degree of nursing that allows you to move to the USA or Canada (and eventually bring your family with you).