Yes, (polished) rice is poison if you rely on it for a staple: it's one of the reasons the country has a sky-high rate of diabetes. However, the Philippine government is one of the few that still promotes rice as being healthy and good for you, despite mounting scientific evidence to the contrary.
Other Asian countries eat rice, of course, but observe a typical Chinese or Japanese meal. You'll have four plates of vegetables, a little meat, and a hand-sized bowl of rice. The bulk of the meal is vegetables. For the Filipino, the bulk of the meal is rice, and there's always a sort of unofficial competition to see who can cram down the most rice (isn't gluttony supposed to be a sin?). Add to that a sugary sauce and a bottle of coke, and you've got a health crisis.
What annoys me most is that they even grow rice in locations where there isn't enough water. The government then spends enormous amounts of money on irrigation projects to "help" the "poor farmers" – which in reality just increases water waste and creates problems in other areas.
If they really wanted to help them, they'd tell farmers to stop growing the awful stuff and plant crops more suited to the local climate.
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