Agrarian Strife…root of poverty
and Red Movement in the Philippines
by Apolinario Villalobos
During the pre-Spanish time, nothing was on record about any agrarian discontent in the country, as it developed only when the Spaniards came and imposed their “encomienda” system. The practice was maintained by the Americans who took over the grip on colonial reins, and worsened when the country became a Republic under corrupt Filipino leaders.
The country is an agricultural nation. But, because of agrarian problems in the provinces, the starving Filipinos sought a better life in the city, where they lived on pavements, under the bridge, along waterways, and slums. In the city they still suffer from poverty, but they are on their own, their life not controlled by landlords who bound them in perpetual debt. They rummage in dump sites for morsels of food and recyclable stuff that they sell to junkshops. Most often what they earn is not enough so that rather than stare at their children dying of hunger, they commit crimes – some petty, some grave. They resort to “running” drugs for pushers, go into prostitution, pick pockets, break into homes, and steal goods in groceries. Had life been good in the province where they tended rice fields and vegetable plots, they would have not spent precious savings for fare to Manila to seek a better life, but found another hell, instead.
The advocates of Communism saw an opportunity in the poor Filipinos’ discontent. They sowed the seeds of the Red ideology among them – successfully. The mass base of the Red Movement has become firmer and broader. Not content in Manila, young Red agents go to the provinces which before were peaceful tourist destinations, especially, the island provinces. In cooperation with the New People’s Army, they meld with the villagers who have been suffering from the exploitation of their landlords, and who did not need any elaborate persuasion….more success.
Meanwhile, instead of resolving the issue on agrarian unrest, the government since the time of Marcos is more interested in developing rice and corn fields into high-end subdivisions and malls. Foreigners in drove took the opportunity using their Filipino dummies. The idea of the government is to make the country at par with neighboring Asian counties that are resplendent in their progress, as well as, provide employment for thousands of graduates with sophisticated courses. Nothing came out of this idea due to corruption which evolved from bad to worst!
And, finally, the once rice-exporting proud nation has become an importer of rice from countries whose rice technicians derived their knowledge from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in Los Baῆos, Laguna – Philippines!
That is the gloomy picture and sad story of a country called, “Pearl of the Orient Seas”, somewhere in the Pacific. It is my country, but, I am still proud of it…though vehemently pray and hope that it will someday be transformed into a better place to live in, with the united effort of the persistent fellow countrymen who still remain “true” Filipinos…at all cost!