It seems that Zaxx’s statements in his last article is earning quite a bit of attention from our readers, both positive and negative alike. While Zaxx’s proposals may seem harsh, I can safely assume that many of his opinions regarding that of squatters is because of the many problems they cause to society as a whole. From excessive littering and causing floods, being a breeding ground for crime to just a plain unregulated breeding ground for people and Heavens only know what else, these are but a few of the things that make squatters so problematic. While I can’t bring myself to completely agree with Zaxx (however, yes, I will stick to my decision for volunteering for a vasectomy), I have to admit that things have gotten really so bad that desperate measures like those cited by Zaxx seem to be the only plausible solution for the problem of poverty in the Philippines.
However, I would like to present a different, more humane alternative. No, I’m not saying it’s a better alternative than Zaxx’s suggestions because my proposal has a slower approach and we all know how urgent the problem is becoming. Then again, because I still accept even squatters as my fellow countrymen, I am a little reluctant to resort to such totalitarian methods. Oh well, maybe I am just too naive for my own good and for all my talk of cynicism, I might just be an idealist after all.
Anyway, what I want to do in this article is to directly address the problem at hand.
So how do I see poverty?
Well one can liken it to a tree. An evil accursed tree in fact. One with the shapes of faces in its bark and its gnarled branches almost appearing to be grasping hands and limbs. A tree not at all different from the tree of evil mentioned in The Santo Nino of Innocencia.
Okay, now that you have that image of an evil tree in your mind, imagine the tree having four thick roots. While the tree of poverty is huge and menacing, it can be killed. In fact, there are many ways to kill it either through dismemberment, burning or poisoning. However, to truly kill it, we must attack its roots. Cutting off its branches, which often take the form of overpopulation, crime and corruption, simply isn’t enough to make sure it’s really dead. If we want it dead and gone, we have destroy what causes them in the first place.
In this case, let’s go back to the four roots I mentioned:
Lack of Opportunity
This is probably the taproot of the tree of poverty. It is the single largest factor in keeping many Filipinos poor and unhappy. For all of President Aquino’s talk of “economic improvement”, he has done almost nothing to provide our countrymen with productive jobs and at least decent if not promising careers. Still, thanks to the protectionist policies of the Philippine1984– I mean 1986- Constitution, our people are left with two often very sadistic choices: Leave the country to be an OFW to provide for your family and risk being abused by cruel employers, exploited by criminal syndicates and the possibility of losing your family to infidelity or stay in the country and be targeted by corrupt officials, envious associates and petty criminals while all too often being stuck with low-end and dead-end jobs that promise nothing but squalor and misery.
Ladies and gentlemen, until the government can provide actual jobs for our people, then we will always be poor and the squatters will only continue to multiply at an exponential rate. And not just any jobs either, mind you. What we need are steady jobs with promising rewards not just measly side jobs with no benefits and barely provide enough money to support a pet mouse. You can reserve abstract statistics and non-existent economic gains for board meetings, if the common Filipino is still stuck with a job that can barely allow him to eat three servings of pagpag (recooked food from the garbage) a day, then all those statistics and so-called “achievements” are nothing but hot air.
Let’s face it, the Philippines isn’t the cleanest country in the world. And nope, before you react negatively, just because we aren’t the dirtiest country in the world doesn’t make us “okay”. Bad is still bad, no matter how you look at it. And, unfortunately, the pollution in our major cities are major causes of poor nutrition and general disease.
And I’m not just talking about sickly bodies either. All the chemicals as well as the often abrasive and corruptive nature of our society often dulls one’s mind. After all, your brain needs food too and, as Zaxx cited in one of his previous articles, improper nutrition results in a slow and disadvantaged mind.
An unhealthy mind and body leads to an unhealthy work force that eventually leads to an unhappy outcome.
Brain Destroying Media
This is another fairly large root that, while not as big as the first, is still worth mentioning. Of course, I’ve bashed the media many, many times now that attaching their links is a pointless exercise. However, I will mention it again for those reading this particular article.
The thing is, whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, the media has essentially become part of our lives. It influences our minds on a subconscious level and, before you deny it, let me ask you this: Have you ever found yourself talking like the characters you watch on TV? Have you found yourself following similar trains of thought as they? Have you found yourself wearing the same clothes the people in your favorite sitcom wear? Well, if so, that’s how the media influences you!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with watching your favorite show. However, what happens all too often is that people get hooked on their favorite shows and are influenced by them to detrimental effect. Examples?
- Spouses who honestly believe they’re being cheated by their significant other even though what evidence they have is insubstantial or nonexistent.
- Teens who believe that nothing should get in the way of their love and breed like rabbits because they think love will solve all their problems.
- People who simply wait for others to solve their problems for them instead of doing anything to help themselves and blame others when things don’t work in their favor.
What’s worse is that while there’s nothing really wrong with some of our shows, some put said shows and their favorite celebrities above their actual needs. This is why you have such silly incidents such as people tearing down the theater because their favorite character was killed off, significant others breaking up with their partners for not going to see a movie with them to those who care more about their favorite celebrities than their own families.
In this day and age, not only do we have to work harder, but we also have to work smarter. Combined with malnutrition above, how can we hope to create productive citizens when their minds are devoid of any productive ideas. One just needs to take note of the repetitive plots in our teleseryes to realize how creativity seems to be dying (or already dead) in our country.
When you combine the three factors mentioned above, you go to the next possible outcome: despair.
The kind of society we have, when finally stripped of its glamours induces a deep sense of hopelessness. I have personal experience with this as both I and my father suffer from similar issues. My father, being born to a poor family likes to go on and on about how poor he is and why I can’t really expect much from him. What grates on my nerves though is that he seems to think that he’s entitled to my pity even though there are people out there who are in a worse condition but manage to make do with what they have and make something out of themselves.
While I’m not overtly fond of my father, I won’t shy from using him as an example of the kind of despair inherent in most of our impoverished countrymen. Poverty due to the first three factors mentioned above defeat not just the bodies and minds of the poor, but also their very souls.
Now, I know I should’ve mentioned this in the third point above, but with the way our shows (especially noontime shows) go, they encourage us to make ourselves to be as pitiful as possible (like my father) instead of instilling a sense of determination and recovery in them. I am usually overjoyed to see people who are otherwise impoverished make something of themselves and the boy shown to be studying by the light of McDonald’s fills my heart with a fervent hope that perhaps all is not lost. However, with majority of our poor mired in squalor both physically and spiritually, what hope we have is at best a guttering flame and desperately needs to be fed.