SPECKS OF LIFE: Thinking and feeling poor?

We need cleansing.

A thorough national cleansing.

Surveys, unofficially or not, have discovered that 42% percent of Filipino families (9.4 million Filipinos) rated themselves as “poor.”

While this was a downtrend from a high of 45% previously, it cannot erase the fact that the consciousness of being poor is very much etched in the mindset of our countrymen.

This does not bode well for the next generation whom we are motivating and encouraging to think positively.

Mind you, in the fifties, despite just some years off the devastating Second World War, Filipinos did not know the face of poverty. Neither did they even know the term “poverty” itself and much more spell it. It probably helped that the peso to dollar exchange rate was just P2=$1 then and a centavo can buy as much as even a clove of garlic, which you cannot do today.

You wouldn’t believe it but a tin can of the stateside Target and Libby’s corned beef brands just cost P.15 centavos then. Yes, quince centimos!

Then, children of all ages went to school, regardless of their family’s economic status. No one was left out in the cold. No one was scavenging, no one was begging in the streets. People were courteous and polite while children know the ABCs of good manners and right conduct.

Why have we gone down this low? I don’t know whether the government is to blame or the politicians. Or the people themselves.

Regardless of these surveys, one needs only to scan his surroundings and what he will see will describe just how stricken poverty has engulfed the lives of millions of Filipinos nationwide.

How do we get rid of poverty? The better question, perhaps, to ask is: How can the Filipinos slay the culture of poverty that is stalking the whole nation?

There was a time when talk about building a strong middle class was a popular issue. Advocates were pursuing this line of thought before the era of martial law was declared.  Then, there wasn’t as much lawlessness, corruption and criminality as what we are witnessing today.

Today, there is an on-going school of thought that entertains the idea that political families and dynasties are able to preserve their supremacy and class because they have succeeded in keeping the mass base of the people subservient to their whims and caprices.

The principal aim is to keep them buried deep in the mire of poverty, inadequacy and helplessness.

Thus, for nearly half a century, Filipinos have been enduring the lack of basic needs – food, clothing and shelter. Worse, many are unable to send their children to college because employment opportunities no longer abound.

Congress has been too slow in granting free college education. Budgetary allotments to state colleges and universities have been decreased even as the Constitution guarantees that everyone is entitled to be educated, it being the principal responsibility of government. Thousands of young children in remote villages needed to hike hilly and mountainous terrains, cross bridges and rivers to enrol and study in public schools that are found in the lowlands only.

Ignorance has kept millions of Filipino families in the dark.

Poverty has kept them company.

Misery indeed begets company. (Email your feedback to fredlumba@yahoo.com.) God bless the Philippines!

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