|Photo courtesy of AP/Bullit Marquez.|
This is sort of a follow up to my previous post: "Putting Our Best Foot Forward" last May 2, 2012.
"The government should face reality. If they don't, how will they know the problem, how will they solve the problem," said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the left-wing group Bayan, regarding a recent effort by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to cover up slums on the side of a river which runs through the route of the delegates attending the 45th Asian Development Bank Summit this week.
“The government should face reality." It's funny he could say that without realizing the relativity of the concept.
Who should face reality here? Is it the government, who spends billions on a Conditional Cash Transfer program to help the poorest of the poor, arise from their destitute condition? Who works with financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (among others) to curb rampant poverty and deprivation in this country? Oh, we’ve seen reality alright. We see it every day, and I think the ADB sees it too throughout their years of being headquartered behind their walled compound in Ortigas Center. In fact, we are already saturated by images of this reality on our TV channels because they made an industry out of documenting about such reality. Hence, I think it would be unreasonable to say that the government is not facing reality. In fact, it is a belated statement, one that was made when some solutions have already been implemented and are still being implemented today. It must be outrageous to think that poverty would disappear in the days leading to the ADB summit, right Mr. Reyes?
Back to my earlier question. If it isn’t the government, who then should face the reality? Is it the upper class who has invested heavily on our country’s economy, provided jobs for the majority, and are taxed heavily? Is it the middle class, who has toiled to get and finish a degree in order to contribute brains, sweat and time to the progress of family and Motherland so that it may not live in indigence? Or is it the poor, who are very much aware of the reality they are stuck with and yet have acted little in the face of such poverty?
Take the case of that community under the bridge, whose view from the street was covered by sheets of galvanized iron by the MMDA. Have they faced the reality that by living on those banks, they are endangering themselves to floods and diseases, as well as contributing to pollution because of the lack of proper sewage system for their homes? I don’t think so. Have they faced the reality that by moving from the province to this already crowded city they would live worse than their subsistence existence in the province? I came from a tiny island in the Visayas whose people have relied on farming and fishing for years and yet were able to send their children to school and improve their lives. That is how we faced reality there. I wonder how these poor people could simply look at reality in the eye and do nothing.
The problem lies on the fact that the poor think that it’s not their choice to be poor. Such belief is not just passé, but also a huge moral flaw on their part. Exchanging a content and sufficient agricultural life in the province is their choice. Getting in to marriage without any plans early in life is their choice. Having sex without protection, having too much sex and kids in the process – it’s all a choice. The government, the upper class, and the middle class were not conspiratorial to all these choices. And even if they are at some point, the choice is still theirs. Do I want to be stuck in such reality for the rest of their lives or am I going to exhaust all possible means to get ahead and rise from the ladder? Such belief statements in life have to be let go by the poor if they are to elevate themselves from the reality of poverty.
The odds are in favor of those who dare. For decades, we, as a people have supported our brethren who dared to rise out of poverty. Whether people in government, the upper class, the middle class -- we have made steps to assist and support those who are willing to face the reality and solve it. But this doesn’t mean the end is on sight. While ironic, Mr. Reyes’ words do serve as a wake up call. There are still a lot of things to be done aside from covering the blemishes. But the truth remains: those who saved themselves rather than waiting to be saved have been rewarded well. Those who are eager to be saved have been given a helping hand.
I wonder where Mr. Reyes was when all of that was happening.
In another reality, I suppose. After all, they are other group here who’s not facing reality (or rather, facing a different reality – a rather violent and fast-paced one). Those in the left-wing are well aware of such reality and yet what part have they done in order to solve the problem? Have they organized fundraisers or charities for the construction of homes for informal settlers? Have they worked with our system of governance in order to put to justice elements in our society that maligns the poor? Have they been kind to our benefactors in the fight against poverty and deprivation? Are they merely spotlighting the cons instead of highlight what is good in what we’ve done as a nation too?
The left movement should face reality. It’s time that they contribute to nation-building instead of nation-tearing. It’s not that that they should turn 180 degrees on their beliefs. All I’m saying is that they should try meeting the rest of the nation halfway. After all, we only have one common goal in mind, to convince the rest of the world that "It's More Fun [to live] in the Philippines!" TSS