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PIA Press Release
2009/10/23

Feature: Standing for poverty or against it?

by Andre B. Atega, PARO-DAR13

Butuan City (23 October) -- A mere ritual, where everyone stands and declares to fight poverty in words, cannot eliminate poverty. Just as religious ceremonies cannot save any soul, or military parades cannot win any war or peace. But ceremonies, to fill some awkward gaps in human relations and practices, have become a natural part of man. Almost as natural as poverty that maybe if we can eliminate our ceremonies we can probably eliminate poverty.

Someone says that "the world has enough for everybody's needs but it has not enough for anybody's greed". When freedom is understood to mean "GET WHAT YOU CAN!" rather than "SHARE WHAT YOU CAN!" the few who are strong will take the resources of the world and deprive the many who are weak with even the most basic need.

When we seek to destroy the beautiful because we are consumed by our own envy ; when we scheme to destroy the good because our hearts are filled with hate and malice ; when our ambition is bigger that our qualification that we undermined performance and production ; when we focus on defects or dwell in the past that we become un-productive critics obsessed with the negative and cannot see graces or positive asset ; when we want the world to turn according to our selfish wants and not accept humbly that events happen in some mysterious ways ; that is poverty in the heart.

For when we will succeed in destroying the good, the beautiful and the competent out of SSS (suya, selos, sina) nothing will be left but ugliness, mediocrity and evil men and women with pretensions for goodness and holiness but actually conspire and criticize secretly for self interests, personal ambition, favoritism, simple ill-will or malice and injustice.

That is where we are today. Injustice and poverty prevail because the world we live in, or the workplace we complain about, is nothing but the reflection and actualization of our own ill-feelings.

A man rich with ideas can become a millionaire with a mere P 10,000.00. That was how the borloloy or taring-taring business started. A man with no ideas even after winning millions from LOTTO can go back poor and miserable in a matter of time.

Perhaps, the greatest sin is ignorance. When we make more babies than we can afford; when we borrow money beyond our means; and when we buy what we don't need, that is poverty in the mind.

When pride is bigger than the brain, mindless faith stronger than rational thinking, when we consumed the present and spend the future, when people are problem-makers than problem-solvers, that's poverty in the mind.

When lands are idle and filled with worthless grasses than valuable crops and trees and government refuse to adopt a zero-idle-land policy because it is costly ; when a development agency pays workers below poverty salary level ; when we eat more than we earn ; when we talk more than we work, that is poverty in the mind.

KURIPOT is not bad. Only those who have no strength to save or who wants a free ride hate it. ARTEHON is not bad. In business, it means "world class" or the beginning of quality service and good packaging. "NEGOSYANTE RA KAAYO" is an expression of a poor mind. "TAGAW" is good. It means the person is not afraid to learn or exposed his ignorance. "HAMBUGERO" is not bad. He is just the person who does not gamble and drink but busy in productive solitude. "To be great is to be misunderstood", said Ralph Waldo Emerson. "To be honest is to be accused of crimes", says Andre B. Atega.

There are two hi-ways that your brain can take you: Up or Down. What ideas and influences provide you with wings to fly? What ideas and bad influences bring you down? Performance, courtesy and respect will take you high. Counter productiveness, sabotage and intrigues can bring you down. Water has no choice but to follow the flow of gravity. Man can pick from many ideas, choose company, or the road only the few will travel. Whatever we choose will make us rich or poor.

In our country, no matter what type of agrarian reform we adopt not all who needs land can have a piece because we are a multitude of 90 million people in a small archipelagic 30 million hectares of lands. There is simply not enough for everybody. So it is not bad policy to send people abroad and bring dollars home. Europeans, Chinese, Americans and Japanese are rich because they do business in poor countries, exploit their wealth and play with their markets to bring money to their own people.

We are poor because our leaders steal money from our people and spend money abroad; we are poor because we steal money from our children and wives or husbands and spend money with friends; we are poor because we consumed our resources today and leave nothing for the future. The rich get money from outside and bring it home. The poor get money from home and spend it outside.

When leaders secure political funds from oil companies or from media taipans and business moguls, our people will be poor because our leaders will adopt laws and policies to protect the businesses of taipans and moguls. Are we not wondering why we are paying separately for power generation; paying separately for power transmission; paying separately for power distribution; and paying separately for power consumption?

Are we not wondering why the oil prices are high even when global prices are low? Why development agencies pay below poverty-level salaries? Why GSIS is not transparent to its members? Why the countryside is poor by centralized taxation? Why sacrifice Mindanao budget for Metro Manila? Why when the population is getting bigger and territories and resources are getting smaller still our leaders refuse to adopt real population growth control policy? Why the interests of the country are sacrifice for political ambition?

All these are happening not because of economics but more of politics.

Absolute and mathematical equality is not natural. The strong will always be richer than the weak. The wise richer than the fools. Superpowers richer than Third World. We are not born equal. Some have defects, a few are beautiful, geniuses, or have inheritance; and many are ordinary. Only our rights are equal but the exercise of rights and the opportunities are limited and determined by capability and discipline, guts and talents, resources and luck.

Powerful nations need the wealth and market of poor countries to maintain their political and economic supremacy. The inequality has to be maintained to keep they are. But we cannot hate them for what they are. We cannot expect them to renounce their wealth and power so that we can rise to their level or bring themselves down so that we will meet as equal at some middle ground.

The rich are where they are because of attitude; because they are united as a people; because they produce goods and services that we like to buy; because they are capable and willing to pollute the world for business and destroy nations for control.

So what is the meaning in all this standing as one against poverty when the powerful stands only for themselves and provides us only with loans, relief goods, and work while they own the technology, capital and the world?

Because we are a poor nation we stand against ourselves. We need to stand against ourselves for us to change. So that we will become KURIPOT in the management sense. So that we will become ARTEHON in a market sense. So that we will be TAGAW or not afraid to learn. So that we will not allow envy, hatred and malice to prevail our sense of fairness, our sense of justice, our sense to be productive. In this way, we will promote the competent, protect the good, crown the beautiful.

We will not fight for equality by war or insurrection or banditry. We will not solve our poverty by making the rich poor. We will fight poverty with creativity, inventiveness and productivity: having artists with real talents, workers who are technically skilled; managers who are competent. If we can make products that the world will buy, we will be able to compete.

Then we will have pride as a people, we will become proud Filipinos.

Taas noo, Filipino! (PIA) [top]

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