I was expecting a city of shanties. A sprawling ghetto. A legion of beggars stumbling around a sagging town square. But I found none of these things in Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, said to be the poorest province in the Philippines.
What I found instead during a recent visit to this city of 120,000 in western Mindanao was a prim, progressive place, full of bustle and ambition and a fair number of residents mystified by their province's number-one ranking on the poverty list.
"Yes we are poor but not that poor," I heard over and over again.