A Glance at how the Impoverished Filipinos
Are Neglected by the Government
By Apolinario Villalobos
When impoverished Filipinos are born, their normal and healthy growth stops at a point where their mothers ceased to produce breast milk. Due to poverty, parents cannot afford infant milk, so they resort to feeding their babies from bottles that contain rice soup. As they are living in depressed areas crammed with makeshift homes of cardboard, scrap plywood, and leaky tin roof, children are practically exposed to the elements. Most likely, they get infected with skin diseases, their guts becoming home to parasites, and they slowly grow with weak respiratory system. Picture the impoverished children with bloated stomach, bulging eyes, and runny nose.
In a big urban area like Manila, the parents try to eke out a living from dump sites where thrown refuse sometimes yield recyclables that they collect and sell to junk shops. Some though, end up in their home to be used further. Some wake up at past midnight with their children and standby at dumping areas for reject vegetables in Divisoria to salvage what can be trimmed of unwanted parts, cleaned and sold. At six, after earning a few coins, the children go home to change their clothes for school, walking to which, they do without even a sip of warm coffee. Fathers peddle their service as stevedores, or pedal tricycles for a measly fare. And, still some brave the searing heat of the sun and sudden downpour, as they roam around the city pushing carts to collect junks from garbage bins.
In agricultural provinces, families suffer every time drought or flood occurs. Rice fields become useless so they resort to borrowing money from loan sharks. If there are pockets of forest still standing nearby, they resort to cutting of trees, even the premature ones, to be made into charcoal. As a result, they eradicate what could have been a watershed and protection of the topsoil that erodes with the onset of rain.
Those living along the seashores depend on fair weather for their fishing ventures out in the open sea, but the erratic weather system prevailing today, prevents them from doing this dangerous kind of livelihood most of the time. The worst scenarios are during the typhoon or monsoon seasons during which they have no choice but stay home. For their subsistence, they borrow from loan sharks.
It is true that the situations mentioned are similar to other impoverished countries. But what is glaring in the Philippines is the government’s neglect of the country as being agricultural. Lands are converted into quick money-making ventures such as real and industrial estates. Also, instead of having its God-given natural endowments made use to the fullest by Filipinos themselves, these are practically offered to foreigners. The Filipinos are deprived of God-given opportunities by the very government that is supposed to protect them.
The government claims that its concerned agency, the Department of Social Welfare has programs for the impoverished families, one of which is the 4P’s, but this is shrouded with suspected corruption. Reports even prove that the program is not effective, as it just exacerbate the idleness of parents. Also, where are the social workers while children are sniffing rugby in street corners to stave off hunger? Where are the social workers while families living in carts are drenched by heavy rains?
As with the educational system, for so many years now, loopholes that have been shown by parents and concerned sectors are not plugged by the Department of Education. Today with the K-12 program, the parents are further pushed further down the mire of financial difficulty. Such ambitious program will eventually produce a new a generation of dropouts as impoverished parents can no longer afford to spend for their children’s education beyond Grade Six. The situation for inadequately- schooled Filipino children has just gotten worse than before, in which dropping out happens after graduating from high school.
The government refuses to acknowledge its inadequacies, and instead, it proudly shows a perfect image of the country that keeps its pace towards progress, which is a blatant lie!