Patricia Tamayo | Opinion
I know I speak for everyone when I complain about how studying nowadays makes me sick to my very core. I was up all of last night at the mercy of yet another bout of reports and case analyses. There never seems to be an end to them. Since I’ve entered this college, sleep has been a luxury I can barely afford. Though I sleep past beyond midnight, I have to get up in the wee hours of the morning in order to account for the subjects which I did not get to squeeze in the night before. My eye bags weigh a kilo and even though people say the opposite, I know I look like three-day-old garbage because I absolutely feel as rotten.
Another thing most of us would often rant about is the pressure we receive from the respective organizations we belong to. Sure, we all had reasons for joining- mine were actually grounded on the basis of gaining friends. But the point is that, when our orgs decide to initiate activities and events, it just spells another addition to our already-grueling and backbreaking burdens.
Just between hitting the books and satisfying our responsibilities to our orgs, time is already beginning to not be enough anymore. And yet, beyond these two, we could further enumerate other pressing obligations- duties to our families, being a dependable friend, love life, and other personal matters.
Now, therein lies what I consider to be the biggest disease in our country- apathy. ‘Anything that doesn’t have something to do with me is insignificant. My time is my own and since it’s hardly enough to accommodate everything I have planned, I won’t bother wasting it on anything else.’ We have become totally immersed in our own selves, in our own needs. We can be likened to a pupa in its cocoon- only concerned with its own protection. We have long forgotten the fact that we are part of a country that is now in the throes of economic and social collapse. We have remained perfectly blind and deaf to the suffering of the people around us.
From the Philippines’s estimated population of 100 million, 32.9 % are living below the poverty line. Poverty is manifested by the lack of basic necessities. Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to schools and not knowing how to read and write. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, is living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a life to illness because of lack of necessary medication. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation, lack of freedom.
Almost 33 million of our population is suffering; yet two Filipinos managed to be included in Forbes’ 2010 list of the 1,011 existing world billionaires. The Philippines’ mall magnate Henry Sy and tobacco king Lucio Tan remained amongst the world’s richest despite a global financial maelstrom that has sunk many billionaires’ fortunes worldwide. Henry Sy and his family came in the 201st spot with a net worth of $5 billion while Lucio Tan and his family seized the 582nd place with a net worth of $2.1 billion. Forbes magazine also released information with regards to the 40 richest people in the country with a total net worth wealth of $22.8 billion. Thus, 7% of the total $324.9 billion GDP in 2009 was in the hands of just 40 people out of the 100 million Filipinos that comprises this country. Now, is it really true that the Philippines is poor? This is poverty- wherein the wealth of the entire county is concentrated on the hands of the few and where these hands refuse to lend themselves for the betterment of fellow countrymen.
There are various sectors that dedicate themselves to alleviating the existing poverty. Besides the government, we have a number of NGOs, some private foundations, and the religious sector, among others. But their efforts are still presently lacking as is obvious in reports of the ever-increasing rate of poverty in the country. This just proves that their actions may not be addressing the dilemma properly. It has been apparent, time and again, that if human activity is solely geared in easing the manifestations, but neglecting to treat the cause, the illness lives on to consume us piece by piece.
But what is the true cause of poverty then?
I was undeniably moved and inspired when I heard about the definition of poverty from Gawad Kalinga. This is how it goes:
Poverty is not an economic problem but rather, a behavioral one. The root cause of poverty is not a scarcity of resources but a deep and painful lack of caring and sharing in our society. We have focused on ourselves and our loved ones, forgetting that we are all connected to each other, and in reality, we are all just one family.
Thus, in order to put an end to poverty, we need to change our behaviors for the future. Deviate now from the mindset of being competitive to being cooperative; we have to throw away our self-centered attitudes and start being charitable. Instead of apathy, let’s give sympathy a try.
What To Do
As tourism management students, we have the capability to make the change everyone yearns for happen, especially those who plan to put up their own businesses in the near future. Like Lao Tzu’s famous words state: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Indeed, one of the most essential keys in slaying poverty is to give the underprivileged a job or possible means of living.
The alternative is letting the vicious cycle of outreach programs and house relocations continue and in the end, realizing that material things do not really cure the situation. Not to mention that the most unfavorable side effect of this is that the poor will learn to be so dependent with the assistance they’re given, that they’ll begin to rely solely on these things which are freely handed to them. Striving and working to eradicate their sorry states would then be a moot point.
Hopes For The Future
Man is at perfect peace with himself when he is capable of protecting his pride and keeping his dignity. Earning his own living is the key to just that. By the way, the actual number of jobless people in the Philippines last April increased to 3 million from 2.8 million a year ago.
This, as future managers, is where we enter into the picture. As upcoming entrepreneurs, we need to invest into industries that will create countless of jobs for poor Filipinos.
I’m fully aware that a lot of us here are undoubtedly dead-set in buying a one-way ticket out of the country just as soon as the university hands us our diplomas- greener pastures, as people refer to it. And I’m not faulting anyone for wanting to seek opportunities outside the borders. But coming back and being the ones to provide the chances to our fellow Filipinos must not be lost on us.
Think of the progressive country the Philippines might come to be if we hold off on saving our own hides and instead, think of others. There would not be any reason to leave the country then, would there?
For those who plan to stay from the beginning, dreaming to replace Henry Sy and Lucio Tan as the wealthiest men in this side of the world- to not achieve this by oppressing your workers and co-workers would be the greater accomplishment. As an entrepreneur, you must learn to be successful in your own business ventures, but not at the expense of reducing your employees’ compensations and benefits.
Let us not be insensitive, continually focusing on our own welfares, but instead let us reach the Philippines’s evolution, hand in hand with our fellow Filipinos, with the same vision and heart.