JUAN TAMAD: A FILIPINO’S DEPICTION OF THE IMPOVERISHED
There have been several prominent figures in our country that have said that poverty, indeed, is a choice. They constantly blame impoverished people for their assumed laziness as they reason out that poverty is chosen by the poor whenever they lack zeal and perseverance. Ben Diokno, the current governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, once stated that “if you’re hardworking, you won’t go hungry in the Philippines”. But how can they really escape hunger when, despite their hard work, the wages that they receive remain to be insufficient?
In his article “The Myth of the Lazy Poor”, Gideon Lasco portrays the inaccuracies of the “poverty is a choice” mentality as well as the hardships of the Filipino people in the lower sectors. He explains that, although one cannot deny the admirable efforts of the individuals who have managed to rise above poverty, the reality is that not everyone can do the same due to their respective circumstances.
Will a person continue striving if all the labor one has done merely resulted in meager earnings and contractual employments? Farmers, for example, work unceasingly in the fields to harvest their crops. Certainly, we can say that they work so much harder than many of the wealthy people in this country. Yet why are they the ones dreading the decline of their incomes? Why do they still ignore the sweat and the heat of the sun that they experience, just so that they can earn a few pesos?
Indolence is not innately existent in the Filipino people. It is not the immediate cause as to why they are poor. Rather, it is an effect. Filipinos simply gave up trying to force the system to change for the better. And maybe people would rather believe the “poverty is a choice” mentality because they prefer blaming the victims than the society and government that they have.
These pitiful people certainly did not choose to be poor. If given the chance to be wealthy, they would for sure grab it in a heartbeat. But the reality, in the end, will prevail. And they would have to wake up early again and do it all over again. For the same amount of pesos, if not less.