Filipino Families Can Decently Live on $200 Month?

The Guimaras Crew

Filipino Families Can Decently Live on $200 Month? That’s according to NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon, who  claimed you’re not considered poor if you earn P10,000 a month and support a family of five. This Philippine bureaucrat claims a family of five can decently live on $200 a Month. NEDA is the National Economic and Development Authority.

Filipino Families Can Decently Live on $200 Month?

Ms. Edillon, Dear Readers, is sorely out of touch with reality. Consider this priceless reaction from Philippine Senator Panfilo Lacson who said Filipino families can survive on P10,000 a month—as long as they stop breathing.

‘‘Actually, we can, but only if my family will eat only once a day, won’t brush our teeth nor take a bath, walk every day to and from our place of work but avoid perspiring so we won’t wash our clothes,” he said.

Lacson added: “And yes, ask my wife to stop watching her favorite telenovela because I will sell the television set. Ask my children to throw away their mobile phones so they won’t ask me for ‘pasa loads.’”


In an article from The Manila Standard, Filipino lawmakers slammed NEDA’s statement. Lacson joined other senators in urging the government to do something to arrest the price increases that are being blamed on its Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law (TRAIN.)

In the House, Representatives Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and Antonio Tinio and France Castro of ACT Teachers, challenged NEDA officials to live on P10,000 per month and see for themselves how it feels like not to eat a decent meal in a day or cope with the rising cost of living.

“We challenge President Duterte’s economic managers to try and live within their P10,000 sample budget for a family of five and still tell those families that they are not poor and are already living above the poverty threshold,” they said in a statement.

“You are outrageously and shamelessly out of touch from reality,” Zarate said.

Amen, to that, Representative Zarate.

So what’s a Realistic Budget for Living in the Philippines?

After having residing in the Philippines for nearly nine years now with my Filipina wife of over 18 years, I can attest to the fact that the NEDA Undersecretary must be living on the outer fringes of The Twilight Zone.

Not even Rod Serling could have come up with such a fantastic story plot, a family of five living decently on $200 US dollars a month. While that might have been true over 15 years ago, according to Senator Grace Poe, Ms. Edillon’s estimate of the cost of living today is sorely off the mark.

Based on NEDA’s computation, the P10,000 monthly budget covers, among others, the following:

  • P3,834 (77 US Dollars) for food and non-alcoholic beverages
  • P1,288 (26 US Dollars) for house rent
  • P389 (8 US Dollars) for health
  • P806 (16 US Dollars) for transportation
  • P328 (7 US Dollars) for education
  • P141 (3 US Dollars) for recreation and culture
  • P1,259 (25 US Dollars) for restaurants and miscellaneous goods and services.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact budget for every family’s individual needs, NEDA itself released in 2016 data showing that a family of four must earn a gross monthly income of P120,000, 2,400 US Dollars.

NEDA defined the P120,000 amount was necessary to live a “simple and comfortable life” which the agency defined as having enough money for day-to-day needs; the capability to send children to college; owning a medium-sized home and car; and being able to take occasional domestic trips.

Whew! I don’t know what NEDA was smoking back in 2016 but 120,000 a month, or 28,800 USD a year, is beyond the reach of many, if not the majority, of Filipinos.

And, that’s a far cry from P10,000.

Do You Need a Budget over $2,000 a month?

Nevertheless, do you really need a budget of $2,000 a month to support a family of four as NEDA proclaimed in 2016?


We supported seven people, including myself, the first five years we lived in the Philippines, on less than $1,200 USD a month.

My best-selling book about moving to and living in the Philippines, “The Philippines Expat Advisor” actually shows you how a single person can live comfortably on $500 USD a month in the Ph.

Now it might be best if that single person, if he’s a male, doesn’t have a girlfriend with relatives, but living on $500 a month in the Philippines for a single guy is not an unrealistic figure. However, trying to live a decent life for a family of five with a $200 a month budget is totally unrealistic.


Due to the flak NEDA received from social media, they have now revised their family budget figures once more.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Friday said “it will be good” for an average Filipino family of 5 to have two working members taking home P21,000 a month each or a total of P42,000, 840 US Dollars, to live above the poverty line.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO" aka "THE CRUSTY OLD EXPAT." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.