Cyclical Poverty

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Fely Bayona March 9, 2015

    Cyclical poverty, marginalized, living below poverty line are common in every society around the world including the United States. In the US government handouts, drugs worsened the situation.
    My family was once living below poverty line. Our parents inspired us and taught us that education, hard work and pursuit of excellence are our only tickets for better life. Our parents could not afford to send us to high school but we found a way…lots of hard work and sacrifice. We also supported each other (9 siblings) even up to this day. We never forgot where we came from.
    Ultimately, we served as an inspiration to the barrio folks where we lived.
    The poor need to know that there is a better life, that they should have a dream, that there are ways to achieve their dreams. Knowing those who succeeded to overcome poverty would help to change their mindset.
    Up to this day, I believe that poverty was a blessing in disguise for us.

    • reginegarcia March 11, 2015 — Post Author

      Thank you for sharing Ms Fely. I admire you for your hard work and pursuit for excellence in order to help your siblings.

      I agree with you that the poor should know that there is always something brighter coming their way. Somehow they just need a little push and a little change in their views.

      I’ll see you again soon :D

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