Monday, October 25, 2010

On poverty and the Filipino

A couple of days ago, I got to talk with someone running for kagawad in a barangay in Quezon City. I asked him how the campaign was going.

"There's this place I went to where the alley was just as wide as your body. On your left and right are squatters' houses. At the end of the long alley, you meet a dead end, then you turn left. Then it's more of the same thing," he said.

"It was depressing. There are still too many people who are so poor," he added.

I asked him if the people talked to him about their concerns and whether he gave anything to help -- money perhaps?

He said there was no time to do so. But he knew that if he stayed 10 more minutes there, it would take a while before he can get out and he would have to shell out money.

"It was morning, and men were already gathered together, drinking. If I lingered some more, they'd offer me a drink ("tagay") and it would be impolite to leave," he said.

Though I didn't see the place he talked about, I just nodded. Haven't I seen such a scene in some Lino Brocka movie back in the 80s? Or passing by Agham Road or Araneta Avenue just the other day? Twenty years have passed, and there are people who are still poor, maybe even poorer than before.

After Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao won one of his fights before, I figured that if he would just use his earnings from the pay-per-view deal with HBO to give money to the poor in the country, many would probably be living better lives now.

But then again, there would still be people who would just use the money to drink ("happy-happy" as my mom would say) -- those with the "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" mindset.

I guess it's not enough that the poor are given livelihood opportunities. They also have to have in them that determination to get out of their situation, to strive to do their best, to be the best they can be. They also need to realize that God has a plan for them, and life is more than just living for the moment.

A change of mindset and a change of heart. That could be the answer.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I just finished Fight for the Filipino by Tito Guingona. It's not exactly a book I would pick up at the bookstore, but since it was lying around at home, I read it. And I'm glad I did. It was interesting to know what life was like for the author when he was young with a world war going on, and how politics was like back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. As he talked about his political career from the 80s onward, the author gave readers a view of Philippine politics from a different angle. I'm glad he took time off to write this book.

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