I ask from friends and collect myself, what others consider as “trash” – empty rice bags, used shopping plastic bags, brown paper bags, net bags, used tarpaulins, empty jars, lengths of straw rope, etc. – to be distributed among my friends who sell recyclable junks and vegetables by the pile on sidewalks. They are called “buraot” vendors and the “buraot” refers to the junks and wilting vegetables that they sell. Some of them keep the brown paper bags to be used by their children as book covers, and the sturdy plastic grocery bags as “school bags”. On the other hand, the rice bags have many uses, one of which is safekeeping of things in the absence of decent bags that are sold in department stores.
It takes me about two weeks to be able to collect a sizeable volume of these various “treasures”, classify the plastic bags according to size, carefully fold them and finally apportion them together with the rest of the items among the pre-identified recipients for easy distribution. I am most glad if I am able to collect big plastic cover of refs and washing machines because they can be used as extended roof for “kariton (pushcart) home” of my friends. I taught them to fold big plastic bags in such a way that they can be used as “rain coat”. I used to do that when I was in elementary during which I would scavenge the garbage dump of a bakery in our town for recyclable junks especially plastic bags.
One time, a friend in California, “Perla” sent plenty of blue tarps that went straight to sidewalk and “kariton” dwellers. But I told her to stop sending such kind of item because I met a couple who sell “tinseled” bags of condiments that when spread by slicing open the two sides can serve the purpose of a mat, as well as, protection against the rain – for just Php20.00 apiece.
Every time I come home from shopping, I see to it that the bags, both made of plastic and brown paper are properly folded and set aside instead of tossing them into the garbage basket. The brown bag can also be used in keeping extra portions of vegetables before storing them in the ref. Also, I am not ashamed in picking up lengths of straw ropes from the ground while shopping in outdoor shopping areas such as Baclaran and Quiapo, as they are also needed by my friends in tying things that they always bring along with them. As a recycling advocate, I had been doing this for more than thirty years now.
Every time I hit the road for my random acts of sharing my backpack is full of these “treasures”, aside from Skyflakes crackers and home-cooked pudding for sharing. I just want to show that sharing blessings need not be a “big time” effort that involves a lot of money. If I can do it, I am sure others can do it, too. Those interested to do the same can start with the plastic bags that can be collected and given to their favorite vendor in the market….by doing so, we also help Mother Nature as the plastic bags that we recycle are prevented from clogging esteros or canals.
The “us” in the title refers to the four of us in the group. The two are based in the United States, but come home every second week of November for our sharing project that commences every third week of November and strictly ends on the first week of December. On the other hand, I and the other one are locally- based.
Many of those who know us still don’t understand why we “meddle” with the lives of others by helping them. One of my friends even went to the extent of sending me a message last year when he read my blogs about Baseco Compound in Tondo. His message read, “hayaan mo na sila, kasalanan nila kung bakit sila naghihirap…mamumulubi ka lang sa ginagawa mo”. I did not bother to reply to that message…but from then on, he seems to have detached himself from me. The other member of the group who is based locally, too, had a misunderstanding with his wife until their eldest son interfered…in his favor, so from then, his wife sort of just supported him. The two others, who are based abroad are lucky because aside from being supported by their families, they are also able to collect donations from friends who came to know about our projects.
My opinion is that it is difficult for others to really understand how it feels to be impoverished because, either, they have not been through such, or refused to admit that they were poor once, out of pride. I do not know if some of you experienced the pang of hunger for having not taken breakfast and lunch while attending classes. I do not know if some of you have experienced wearing underwear twice your size – being hand-me-downs from rich relatives. I do not know if some of you have experienced catching ice cubes thrown by a friend, instead of being handed even a sandwich by him during his birthday. I do not know if some of you have experienced making toys out of milk cans from the garbage dump, etc. etc.etc. I have experienced those when I was young.
My other colleague in the group and who is based in Manila, admitted to have been a scavenger when he was young. He also shared how every morning before going to school, he stood by carinderias and ate the leftover food on the plates of customers. As a scavenger, he and his brothers cooked “batchoy” out of the food they scavenged from the garbage bins of Chinese restaurants. He also unabashedly admitted to having worked as a call boy when their father got sick to earn quick money to support his two younger brothers and one sister (they were left by their mother). He got lucky when he landed a job as a messenger/sales clerk of a big hardware store in Sta. Cruz (a district in Manila City). Good fortune smiled at him, when the daughter of his employer fell in love with him, which made him part of the family business.
The third in our group, a doctor is the luckiest because at an early age he got adopted by a rich and kind couple who were US Green Card holders. But while growing up in Pasay, he was close to the less fortunate in their neighborhood. He is married to the daughter of their laundrywoman who is now operating a small catering business in the States.
The fourth in our group found his way toward us through the doctor, as he was the latter’s neighbor in the States. He shared that he grew up in a farm in Bicol and also experienced difficulties in life, as he and his siblings would cross a shallow river and hiked two kilometers to reach their school. He was introduced to our “operations” when he got curious, so he joined us in 2009, after promising to abide by our rules – no photo taking, wearing only slippers, t-shirt and shorts when on the road to share, and no giving of true name or divulging of real identity to the beneficiaries, as well as, willingness to partake of what our friends in slums eat.
What makes us click together is that, as if on cue, we practically forget who we really are every time we start hitting the road just before sunrise, to share. We would sometimes call each other unconsciously, by our assumed names…but we do not consider such slip as a joke, because we are those names every time we mingle with our friends to share. For those who insist on knowing us, we ask them to just remember us by our acts, and not by our face and name.
Dapat ay isama ng mga moralista ang pagbawal sa paggamit ng expression na “magpapasko pa naman” na tumutukoy kay Hesus, tuwing may kalamidad na mangyari bago sumapit ang “pista” na ito. Halatang ang habol lang talaga sa pistang ito ay mga kasiyahang dulot ng bonus, pagkain, gifts, Christmas lights, simbang gabi, caroling, etc.
Tuwing may kalamidad na nangyayari bago magpasko, ang mga naaawa sa mga nasalanta ay nagsasabi ng nabanggit na expression dahil siguro iniisip ng mga “naaawa” na ito, na mami-miss ng mga nasalanta ang mga kasiyahan, at hindi dahil bertdey ito ni Hesus… isang isyu ding kinukuwestiyon. Bakit hindi na lang dumamay at magbigay ng tulong dahil kailangan ng mga nasalanta at hindi dahil sa kung anu-ano pang dahilan tulad ng pasko?
Ang sabi ng mga researchers, ang talagang bertdey ni Hesus ay sa unang linggo (week) ng Abril. Ginamit ng mga matataas na opisyal ng simbahang Katoliko na mga Romano ang Disyembre dahil dati na itong ginugunita ng mga pagano sa Roma…isang makamundong pista na puno ng mga kasiyahang nakikita sa pagbaha ng pagkain, alak, at kalaswaan. Ang talagang orihinal na ginugunita ng mga Hudyo noon pa man ay ang araw ng pagbinyag kay Hesus na nakatala sa mga sinaunang records na ang iba ay inilagay sa Bibliya. Walang binabanggit ang Bibliya tungkol sa eksaktong bertdey niya. Ang sinasabi lang ay panahon ng pag-census ng mga Hudyo kung kaylan ay nataon sa pagpanganak kay Hesus. Ang census na ito ang ginawang batayan ng mga mananaliksik upang matukoy ang “panahon” at ang buwan batay sa kalendaryong pinagamit ng Roma sa mga nasasaklaw ng Kristiyanismo.
Sa makabagong panahon, maski sinong bata ay umaasam ng mga regalo tuwing sasapit ang pasko dahil ito ang itinanim sa isip nila ng mga nakakatandang Romanong Katoliko. Inaasahan nila ang paglundo ng mesa sa bahay dahil sa dami ng pagkaing idi-display. Ang mga tin-edyer naman ay excited sa pagsapit ng simbang gabi dahil magkakabandingan na naman sila ng mga kabarkada, at ang iba naman ay magliligawan – sa labas ng simbahan. Ang mga talagang isip at asal demonyo ay may lakas ng loob pang magsuot ng mga damit na kung hindi manipis ay may plunging neckline naman, at ang lalong malaswa ay ang pagsuot nila ng short shorts na nagdi-display ng maitim naman nilang kuyukot! Ang iba naman ay magdi-displey ng mga alahas na tulad ng ginagawa nila sa pagdalo ng misa kung araw ng Linggo.
Ang isa pang itinuro ng simbahang Romano Katoliko upang mapilitang magsimba araw-araw ang mga kasapi ay ang pagbuo ng siyam na araw upang matupad daw ang kanilang mga hiling! Hindi ba ito katarantaduhan….dahil wala naman yan sa Bibliya? Ang dapat na itinanim sa mga kasapi ng simbahang Romano Katoliko ay ang sakripisyo na kaakibat sa pagdalo sa misa tuwing madaling araw o gabi, upang pagdating ng talagang “kapanganakan” ni Hesus, ay hindi nakakahiyang humarap sa kanya….hindi yong hihiling ng kung anu-ano para sa sarili na kalimitan naman ay pera. Pati ang mga prutas na kung ilang piraso na puro bilog ay kasama din sa kinalolokohan ng mga Pilipino…pero ito ay paganong paniniwala naman ng mga Intsik na isinabay sa pasko at bagong taon dahil nakita ng mga taong ito ang malaking kikitain na resulta ng panloloko nila…mga negosyante kasi!
Bakit hindi sundin ang panawagan ng mismong santo papa na si Francis na sa paggunita ng “kapanganakan” ni Hesus, dapat ay iwasan ang pagiging materialistic?…dahil ba marami ang gustong magpakita ng karangyaan? Bakit pa ituturing ng mga Katolikong “tatay” nila si Francis kung hindi rin lang siya pakikinggan?…dahil ba sagad-buto na ang kanilang pagiging makasarili?
At, kung seseryusuhin na talagang “bertdey” ni Hesus ang isi-celebrate bakit hindi sa isang araw lang – ang pinaniniwalaang December 25? …dahil ba ginagamit ito bilang dahilan upang mag-celebrate ng mga makamundong bagay na orihinal na ginagawa ng mga pagano sa Europe?
Pinagmamalaki ng mga Pilipino ang “pinakamahabang pasko” sa buong mundo, pero kung talagang iisipin ang diwa ng pasko…ang kahabaang ito ay dapat ikahiya dahil sa kahirapang dinadanas na ng mga Pilipino at kalagayan ng Pilipinas! Nakakahiyang Setyembre pa lang ay hindi na magkandaugaga ang karamihan sa paglagay ng mga palamuti na para bang “mauubusan na ng pasko”. Kanya-kanya ang mga lunsod at bayan sa pagtayo ng mga giant Christmas tree pati mga lugar kung saan ay may mga kalakalan tulad ng malls. Ang maririnig sa radio ay mga kantang pang-krismas. Ang nakikita sa mga TV screens ay mga pagkaing mararangya na pang-pasko, etc….hanggang Enero ito. Habang nangyayari ang mga nabanggit , marami namang mga Pilipino ang halos hindi makakain ng kahit isang beses sa isang araw. Ang iba, makakain lang ay namumulot ng mga tira-tira sa basurahan.
Ang mga Pilipinong ayaw tumingin sa katotohanang ito, simple lang naman ang mga sagot: “kasalanan ko ba kung naghihirap sila at kaya naming gumastos?”, o di kaya ay, “kasalanan nila kung bakit sila naghihirap, dahil tamad sila!”….masasabi bang tamad ang isang taong nauulanan na’t lahat at halos malapnos na ang balat dahil sa init ng araw ay nangangalkal pa rin ng basura?
Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be
Poverty because of Corruption
By Apolinario Villalobos
Perfection should be ruled out in the reckoning of a progressive country, because there will always be poverty due to corruption somewhere in the system of governance. In other words, the glitter of progress cannot hide poverty. For ultra-progressive countries, the signs may be insignificant as they try to blend with the glamour of urbanity. But in other countries, especially, the third-world, the signs are very prevalent, so that there is always a massive effort to cover them up occasionally, literally, as it is done every time there are special occasions such as visits of foreign dignitaries. This practice is successful in the Philippines.
Practically, poverty is the shadow of progress, and literally, too, as where there are looming high-rise buildings that are pockmarks of progress, not far from them are slums or homeless citizens who huddle together under bridges and nooks. These are misguided citizens who flock to the cities after selling their homestead, that have been farmed for several generations, to deceitful land developers, at a measly price. These are the urban squatters willing to be relocated but found out that the promised “paradise” do not even have a deep well so they go back to their sidewalk “homes”. These are contractual workers who have no job securities as they earn only for five to six months, after which they leave their fate to luck while looking for another job.
How does corruption ever be involved in the sad fate of the exploited? Simply, by the government’s negligence in providing decent relocation sites with job opportunities and basic facilities to those uprooted from their city abodes for more than so many years; by its cuddling of the spurious contractualization perpetrated by greedy employers; by its failure to guide and protect the rights of farmers who sell their rice fields to subdivision developers at measly prices that are not even enough to sustain them for six months; by its failure to provide the citizens with the basic necessities as funds are allowed to be pocketed by corrupt officials; and practically by looking the other way despite the availability of laws against vote buying.
Third- world country leaders should stop using the word “progressive”, but instead they should use “surviving” to describe their respective economy. If a country’s economy cannot sustain, much less, provide a “comfortable life” to majority of its citizens, then it is still “ailing”…hence, expect poverty to be trailing behind, just a few steps away from the pretentious allegations!