The “Other Side” of Divisoria (Manila, Philippines)
By Apolinario Villalobos
While Divisoria has always been known as the shoppers’ Mecca, especially, during Christmas, there is” another side” of it which I do not want to present as an image of poverty but that of perseverance, patience, and honest endeavor. This is the “other Divisoria” which many people just refuse to see as it might cause them to puke! The accompanying photos show how these honest Filipinos contentedly strive to live in sheer honesty.
The skeptics always say, “it is their fault for going to Manila and suffer deprivation”. These hypocrite skeptics have TV, radio, and occasionally read newspapers, so they should know that the provinces from where these people who are eking out an honest living on the “other side” of Divisoria, are infested with NPAs, Abu Sayyaf, opportunistic landlords, and loan sharks. For the arrogant, the world is just for those who can afford to live decently. On the other hand, as these skeptics have not endured days of hunger, they may not understand how it is to make a difficult decision to live a hand-to-mouth life in Manila by scavenging in garbage dumps, rather than die of hunger and be in constant fear for dear life in the province.
It is true that the slums have been in existence for many decades now, but there would be no slums had the government ever since the time the nation has become independent, did not get infested with corrupt lawmakers and officials. The slums have been around since the time that deprivation and exploitation have been propagated by learned Filipinos who found their way in the halls of Congress and Senate, as well as, agencies, even at the helm of the government. Unfortunately, the seed of exploitation has grown into an uncontrollable proportion today, making corruption as wrongly and unfairly viewed to be always a part of the Filipino culture.
The striving people from the slums near Divisoria, and other districts of Manila, in this regard, may be viewed by the arrogant as akin to dogs and cats, because of their many children, oftentimes making them utter unsavory remark, such as, “they know they are poor, yet, they keep on having children”.
How I wish these skeptics can also openly, make biting remarks –
to the corrupt politicians and government officials, such as, “they graduated from prestigious universities and colleges, yet, they do not know what is right or wrong”
to the filthy rich, such as, “they have plenty of money, yet they can’t even throw a piece of bread to a beggar”
to the stiff-necked Catholic priests, pastors, and other religious ministers such as, “they are supposed to be representatives of the Lord, but they can’t afford to take a look at the spiritually hungry”
Finally, compared to the disgusting hypocrites, loan sharks, corrupt government officials, arrogant “religious ministers” and conscienceless rich, who are supposed to be learned and intelligent, the people who honestly make a living such as those who belong to the “other side” of Divisoria, are worthy to be called creatures of God – true human beings…slum denizens who are viewed by aforementioned with utter repugnance.
(This blog will definitely, not hurt those who do not belong to the mentioned “classes” of loathsome Filipinos.)
A statistician’s mind is not needed to understand the negative effect of the trouble between Iran and Iraq to the Philippine economy which is founded on her export of labor to other countries, especially, the Middle East. Even a simple pedestrian will not think deeply what the OFW Filipinos will do in beleaguered Iran and Iraq now that they are at war with each other. Rather than be trapped, they will of course come home – back to joblessness. Worse, the government has not even decided on putting a stop, albeit, temporarily to deployment of OFWs to those countries. As usual, the government waits until the situation becomes uncontrollable and millions will be spent again for the hasty evacuations, and for failures, expect finger-pointing….again.
The government is inutile such that it has not come up with fallback programs for situations like this. What OWWA offers as its livelihood program in the form of loan is not reliable. A success story from this venture is yet to be heard or read or viewed.
The agriculture sector which should have been given attention very long time ago yet, is practically gasping for breath. Literally, it is dying, as the once rice and corn fields are converted now into golf courses and subdivisions. Had these lands been preserved, they could have been used as fallbacks for displaced OFWs. In the first place, the reason why they left the country is to seek a greener pasture, as they say, because they are exploited by loan sharks that control the price of their farm products. This fact is known even by a high school student. Why can’t the appropriate government agency or agencies do something about this problem?
Self-reliance in agriculture has never been in the priority list of the government. A very clear manifestation of this negligence is the unabated importation of agricultural products from other countries. And, the situation is aggravated by smuggling that further chokes the local farmers. There is no effort in improving the agricultural products such as vegetables and rice to make them competitive with those from other countries. Ironically, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) the cradle of knowledge for high-tech rice production is located in the Philippines, particularly, Los Baἧos, Laguna, where rice technicians of other countries learn the rudiments of high-tech rice farming. Yet, the Philippines imports rice from the countries of these foreign scientists!
Trading as a gainful venture in the country is left in the hands of foreign businessmen whose stalls cram the mushrooming malls. What is left to the Filipinos are the “bilao and bangketa” business, in which merchandise are patiently arranged in piles in the round bamboo winnower and sidewalk, or the “sari-sari store”, a hole-on-the-wall “grocery”. And, this is what the OWWA expects the displaced OFWs would do with their pittance capital that it loans to them.
It is a shame that despite the availability of funds that were exposed to have been just pocketed by the corrupt in the government, the Filipinos are left with nothing, especially, for the so-called new heroes of Philippine economy, the OFWs.
Expect again the Philippine government to promise labor contracts sought from other “safe” countries…but for how long will this exportation of labor go on? Why can’t the government do something about the home-based industries and revive agriculture which was the country’s primary revenue earner? Is corruption blocking the way?….your answer is good as mine!
Ang Pagpapakatotoo bilang
Probinsiyano o Pilipino
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Hindi ito pamumuna upang makasira, bagkus ay upang makapagbukas ng isip o makapitik ng huwesyo upang magising sa katotohanan ang mga nagmamaang-maangan.
Karaniwang tampulan ng tukso ang mga taong mapagkunwari at ipinaglihi yata sa kayabangan, tulad nang mga galing sa probinsiya na nakapagbakasyon lang sa Manila ng isang buwan ay nakalimutan nang magsalita sa sariling dialect pag-uwi sa kanila. Ang iba ay ayaw na ring kumain ng nakalakhang kaning lamig, o binanliang talbos ng kamote, at ang gusto ay fried rice at ginisang kung anu-ano.
Sa halip na makibahagi ng mga dagdag kaalaman sa mga ka-probinsiya, ay may kayabangan nilang ikinukuwento ang mga bagay-bagay na dulot ng kaunlaran sa isang malaking lunsod, na para sa mga taga-probinsiya ay parang kamangha-mangha. Subalit hindi lahat ng mga taga-probinsiya ay tanga, dahil ang iba ay nakakaramdan kung ang pagkukuwento ay may kayabangan na kaya madalas ay may halong kasinungalingan at ang pakay ay magpabilib, o di kaya ay simpleng pamamahagi na ang pakay ay para sa dagdag kaalaman ng mga kausap.
Yon namang nakarating sa Amerika na ang layunin ay maghanap ng trabaho subalit hindi pinalad kaya napaistambay at sinagad na lang ang palugit ng itinatak sa passport bilang turista, pagbalik sa Pinas ay speaking English na, at kung magsalita man sa sariling dialect, mas marami pa ang salitang English. Kung minsan, ay sinasadyang kunwari ay nadudulas sa pagsabi na “doon sa amin sa US…”, o di kaya ay “our city mayor there….”. Ang masakit sa tenga ay ang pagta-trying hard nila sa pagsalita ng English na kung hindi mali ang punto ay mali ang pagkabigkas, at dinadaan na lang sa pag-“slang”, o sa salitang kanto ay pa-“worsss worsss”.
Ang mga ibinibahagi ko ay batay mismo sa mga naranasan ko sa mga kaibigan ko. Sa kagustuhan kong magising ko sila sa katotohanang nakabalik na sila sa Pilipinas o sa probinsiya ay pilit akong sumasagot sa sarili naming dialect kapag nakipag-usap sa kanila. Subalit ayaw pa rin nilang paawat, kaya hinintay ko na lang na mawala ang culture “hang over” nila…mabuti na rin at nagtalsikan ang tutule ko sa pagtiyaga kong pakikinig sa kanila. Nangyari itong mga karanasan ko noong sa probinsiya pa ako, at kahit nasa Manila na ako. Naghihinagpis na lang ako kapag umalis na ang kausap kong nagwo- “worsss worsss”.
Ito ang hindi nakakabilib: ang isang babaeng traffic reporter ng isang malaking radio station na ang pangalan ay isang letrang inuulit-ulit, sa kagustuhang magpahiwatig sa mga nakikinig na magaling siyang mag-English, kung mag-Tagalog na siya ay puntong English pa rin o “slang”….yan ang trying hard at mapagkunwari. Kung talagang magaling siya, ang dapat niyang ginagawa ay mag-“slang” kung English ang gamit niya, at magpuntong Tagalog siya kung Tagalog na ang gamit niya. Mali ang ginagawa niyang pagpa-“slang” ng Tagalog, para lang masabing mas sanay siya sa pagsalita ng English na siya yatang gusto niyang mangyari. Kung hindi lang mahalaga ang impormasyon sa trapik na hinihintay kong i-broadcast, ay hindi ako magtitiyagang makinig sa “worsss worsss” na traffic reporter.
Hindi dapat ikahiya ang sariling dialect o pambansang wika. Napakagandang katangian din ang magkaroon ng dagdag kaalaman sa ibang wika lalo na kung bihasa na sa mga ito.
Nakakabilib ang isang taong maraming alam na salita – language man o dialect, lalo na kung kaya niyang magsalita sa tamang bigkas o punto ng mga ito. Hindi magandang pakinggan ang isang taong nagsasalita na ng Tagalog o anumang dialect ay nagta-trying hard pa rin sa puntong English o ibang wika. Sa isang banda, hindi masakit sa tenga kung pakinggan ang pagsalita ng English o ibang wika sa punto ng Tagalog o anumang dialect ng Pilipinas, dahil talagang likas na nangyayari ito, ibig sabihin ay excusable dahil hindi naman tayo Amerikano, o Italyano, o Aleman, o kung ano pa man.
At ang pinakamahalaga pa rin, huwag ikahiya ang sariling kultura, sa lebel man na pamprobinsiya o pambansa. Halimbawa, ang isang taga-Bicol na dumayo sa ibang probinsiya ay hindi dapat makalimot sa mga nakalakhang pagkain, ganoon din ang Bisaya o Ilocano o Tagalog. Nakakatulong sa ating mga bagong kaibigan kung naibabahagi natin sa kanila ang nakalakhan nating kultura. Ang mga Pilipino naman na dumayo sa ibang bansa, dapat ay huwag makalimot sa mga pagkaing Pilipino pagkatapos makatikim ng “angus steak”. Yong iba kasing nakauwi sa Pinas ay naghahanap na ng “slimy veggie”…nakalimutan nang ito pala ay saluyot, o di kaya ay “spiny veggie” o wild spinach…na ibig lang palang sabihin ay kulitis! Huwag namang ganyan…