The Superficial “Economic Boom” of the Philippines

The Superficial “Economic Boom”
Of the Philippines
by Apolinario Villalobos

One need not have to be a statistician or an expert analyst to come up with an honest view of the real state of the Philippines and the Filipinos. All that one has to do is go beyond the affluent peripheries of the cities where vast areas of slum can be found. In those crannies of the cities, one can find the different faces of poverty. Not all of those who live there are indolent. Most of them survive on hope and perseverance. It is not fair, therefore, to say that they are just idly waiting for the dole outs from the government. The president is overwhelmed by the big remittances from Filipinos laboring in foreign lands. But for the knowledgeable Filipinos, such revenue is unreliable, as it depends on the economic stability of host countries, hence, should not be viewed as a sign of development.

Surveys say that the country has gone up by leaps and bounds as far as employment and food sufficiency are concerned. Those paid guys who made the surveys must be out of their mind! They interview the wrong people and they seemed to be blind on the high prices etched on cardboards that mark bins of different varieties of commercial rice, that have not returned to their previous prices during the early part of 2014. Even local vegetables are ridiculously marked with high prices. The skyrocketing of the price of fish is crazily attributed to the cold weather! A promise was made by the government to ensure the return of the jacked up prices soonest as the price of fuel has gone down, but despite their slide, nothing has materialized out of the promise made. On the other hand, thousands of sacks of imported rice are on their way…is this food sufficiency?

Commercial and residential infrastructures continuously pockmark the landscape of highly developed towns and cities, but conglomerates that own them are dominated by foreign names, if ever Filipino names are found in incorporation papers, they are consistently the same. The country’s development is haplessly geared for the enrichment of foreign investors and few Filipinos, albeit, with foreign ancestry. It is good for the country, but not for the Filipinos whose taste of these developments are in the form of meager wages as housemaids, chambermaids, clerks, drivers, busboys, room boys, dishwashers, call center agents, and other lowly jobs, though decent. Filipinos have become servants in their own land! The government clearly failed to come up with opportunities that would make the Filipinos decently self-sufficient. Even agriculture is hopelessly neglected!

The number of scavengers that forage in the dumps for recyclable trash to be sold to junkshops, and even for bits of food did not dwindle a bit. Families relocated to the sites without basic facilities such as water, roads, and electricity are trekking back to the esteros where they were pulled out or find nocturnal comfort on sidewalks. Questions on where the budgets for habitable relocation sites went, are never answered. This government indifference is shown even by its inaction to anomalies regarding the unexplained plight of donations for victims of calamities, such as typhoon Yolanda.

Reliable mass transit system is one of the gauges for a country’s development, and which the Philippines is pitifully lacking. The aging Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems are in a sorry and shameful state due to mismanagement, but which some sector claim as corruption. Every time the president speaks, promises are mumbled, to the point that Filipinos got tired of his verbal rattling. His spokesperson even shamelessly told Manilans not to rely so much on the train systems for there are options available such as buses and jeepneys. What happened then, to the ease and comfort promised by the government when the two elevated train systems were built?

With the onset of Pnoy’s departure from Malacaῆan Palace in 2016, he confidently presumes that he has delivered what have been expected of him as the president of this distraught country that wallows in poverty, unemployment and corruption. He must be dreaming!

Nasaan si Purisima?

Nasaan si Purisima?
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kung hindi siya guilty, dapat lumabas si Purisima upang magpaliwanag o pabulaanan ang mga ibinabato sa kanya na siyang pasimuno sa pumalpak na operasyon ng SAF sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Mismong si Pnoy ang nagsabing matagal nang hawak ni Purisima ang mga detalya ng operasyon. At isang heneral din ang nagsabi na si Purisima nga ang nasa likod ng operation at nagri-report siya kay Ochoa o direkta kay Pnoy.

Hanggang kaylan bibigyan ng problema ni Purisima at Pnoy ang bansa? Bakit ayaw siyang bitawan ni Pnoy? Bakit hindi na lang siya magkusa sa pag-resign na hinihingi ng mga Pilipino? Nagbabasa naman siguro si Purisima ng mga diyaryo at nanonood ng TV kaya dapat ay alam niya ang sentimyento ng mga Pilipino.

Ilan pang kahalintulad na massacre sa Mamasapano ang hihintayin ni Pnoy bago siya makinig sa mga hinaing ng mga Pilipino?

Efren Penaflorida, Kris “Kesz” Valdez and Harnin Manalaysay

Efren Peῆaflorida, Kris “Kesz” Valdez
and Harnin Manalaysay
By Apolinario Villalobos

For those who do not have the time to surf the cyberspace but able to pick bits of news, the name Efren Peῆaflorida and Kris “Kesz” Valdez, as well as, “pushcart with books” may be familiar. Efren Peῆaflorida is the CNN Hero of the Year 2009 while Kesz Valdez is the recipient of the International Children’s Peace Award for Year 2012. And, Harnin Manalaysay is the mentor of the two mentioned awardees. Harnin Manalaysay belongs to the Club 8586, a group of low-profile evangelists based in Cavite City.

Efren ang Kesz belong to the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC), composed mainly of volunteer students, who push carts filled with books and goodies for street children of Cavite City. But their advocacy has spread far and wide so that in no time, towns and cities have been inspired to have their own version of such kind of “classroom”, although, some were organized with the help of DTC. But again, in all of these, Club 8586 is always behind as the moving spirit. Lately, a school is near completion at Amadeo, interestingly named Akademos Amadeus, at 8586 Halang-Angairo Road, barangay Halang Banay-banay, Amadeo, Cavite. They are also in the process of establishing a similar project Tacloban City.

I had my first encounter with the group when I brought a small box of books to them at 188 J. Miranda St., Caridad, Cavite City, more than five years ago. I was entertained then, by Mr. Manalaysay and Ms. Angel Neri who is now charged with DTC’s operations aside from acting as secretary of Mr. Peῆaflorida.

Lately, when the steady arrival of books from a US-based friend overwhelmed me, I made several calls to the group to arrange with them the turn over. Initially, my calls were handled by volunteers. But my latest call was handled by a guy who I failed to identify immediately as Mr. Manalaysay, because he humbly introduced himself as one of the group’s volunteers. However, when I checked their site, I saw his photo which prompted me to recall my first visit during which I had a talk with him.

They do not normally pick up donations from the homes of donors because they have no transportation for this purpose. Donated books are normally brought to them by donors themselves. But I was lucky because Mr. Manalaysay was scheduled for a luncheon speaking engagement in Tagaytay and he volunteered to drop by my place to pick up the books and other materials crammed in four large-sized balikbayan boxes, on the way to the venue.

On the day of the pick-up, they arrived on a van provided by the host of Mr. Manalaysay. The group was composed of Mr. Manalaysay, himself, Angel Neri, Kesz Valdez, as well as, teen-aged and diminutive volunteers, Ichan and Jeriemay. I was touched by their enthusiasm while we were hauling out the books from the boxes to be practically squeezed in all spaces available in the van, leaving just enough for them. Even Mr. Manalaysay who walks with the help of a cane, shared his effort. The smile on their sweaty faces showed their sincerity in putting their advocacy into action, giving it life. They move with precision, without wasting time which proved that anything can be done with seriousness while enjoying every moment as shown by their smile.

I learned that the Dynamic Teen Company plans to establish as many as fifty more “karitun klasrums” throughout the country. For me, such plan is not ambitious. It can be done and the group has proved it even with meager budget that they try to scrimp.

The DTC has a website and facebook. Just use the name of the group, Dynamic Teen Company or Karitun Klasrum as tags, to check on what you can extend to these enthusiastic youth. They need books for the library, workbooks, pencils, materials for hygiene like soap, toothbrush, also, slippers, school bags, food – practically anything that the less fortunate needs. We need not wonder about these needs as we already know what one needs in order to live decently. If you get teary-eyed every time you see photos of the less fortunate and wonder how you can help, this is now your chance.

Their telephone number is (046) 4315263.
Address: 188 J. Miranda St., Caridad, Cavite City.
Calls will be entertained, if not by volunteers, by Ms. Neri and Mr. Manalaysay, themselves.

For those coming from Manila, buses for Cavite City can be taken at the Coastal Mall bus terminal in Baclaran. From Bacoor, mini-buses can be taken at the terminal in front of the Habay entrance of SM-Bacoor.

Please bring the donations, yourself.