A quiet morning in an unfamiliar city surrounded by random individuals and passersby along the concrete pathway near the sea. I sat by a small wooden coffee stall down the street with a view of a bleak and difficult reality of life. Rust-covered corrugated steel, withered board panels, recycled plastic bags, card boards, old lumber, all stacked together like a garbage pile and yet it is implausibly home to people like us.
Such a tough pill to swallow when you are viewing a vivid image of poverty that is just several meters away.
Poverty, a word so strong that it already killed millions. So powerful that it still continues to asphyxiate those who fail to thrive in society, those who fail to thrive in life. A murderer with no conscience, no remorse for the innocent lives it took away.
No beginnings nor end, no brakes to cease its deterrent power, poverty is an infinite loop of immorality.
It saddens me to see people who are unfortunate, those who were brought into this world with so much burden, with parents who are penniless, with deprived opportunities for a better life. It saddens me to witness all their agony, all their misery, all their strenuous fight to survive.
I always sympathize because under any circumstance, their excruciation could have been mine.
35.2 million people in the Philippines live in absolute poverty. 8 out of 10 Filipinos are below the poverty line. These figures made me fully aware that I was born lucky, so fortunate not to go through hunger, homelessness, and pennilessness during my childhood.
But what about them? What about those who were born unlucky, those who were sadly born unfortunate? What about those who had no clue that there are opportunities waiting for them to attain life’s abundance? What about the marginalized, the poor, the misunderstood people seeking for help? What about them and their quest to be accepted in society? Do they even stand a chance to be recognized? Do people even care at all?
I hope so.
The staggering number haunts me. The common scene of poverty in the Philippines haunts me. But what scares me the most is the severe blindness of the privileged, an inability to recognize the realness of such situation, a pair of eyes seemingly fixated only to himself. An unhealthy practice of excessive expedience.
Maybe it’s time to do something great to society. Utilize our resources to make something happen instead of viewing the problem as it is. I do believe it is time to change and share a piece of our time to help. Collectively, it will make a difference.
Still sitting on that same small wooden coffee stall, with the sea breeze blowing through the plastic awning, and an unforgettable view of life’s reality, I asked myself this question: “Without the awards and recognition reaped in school, without the job I am engaged in, without the talents and skills that I possess, without the degree I obtained, without my savings and investments, without my education, without a decent home, who am I?”
I slowly sipped my coffee. The mother and her child across me sat on a driftwood by the sidewalk.