North Philippines District Council 51
   DIOCESAN Bishop Micael Bender 

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North Philippines, 51 st Episcopal of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World,
Inc., Bishop Michael Bender 

About the Country and Its Unique Characteristics and Challenges:
The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in
1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing
commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for
independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during

World War II, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July
1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence.
Although the economy grew at a rapid pace under the AQUINO government, challenges to achieving
more inclusive growth remain. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of the rich. The unemployment rate
declined from 7.3% to 5.7% between 2010 and 2017; while there has been some improvement,
underemployment remains high at around 17% to 18% of the employed population. At least 40% of the
employed work in the informal sector. Poverty afflicts more than a fifth of the total population but is as
high as 75% in some areas of the southern Philippines. More than 60% of the poor reside in rural areas,
where the incidence of poverty (about 30%) is more severe - a challenge to raising rural farm and non-
farm incomes. Continued efforts are needed to improve governance, the judicial system, the regulatory
environment, the infrastructure, and the overall ease of doing business.