Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

His past smells of a ditch

drying up its putrid stink

as stale as the street air.

It belongs to a smoggy neighborhood.

In the memory of tattered rags

flapping like flags on the clothesline.

As if dreams can be scavenged

out of the hilly mounds

of garbage, dumping its gifts

of someone else’s trash turning

into someone else’s fortune.


No one cared about armpits

getting wet and sour for hours,

as long as the bad odors

can promise him little money

to buy fish sauce for rice.

Sniffing heaven on earth-

little angel never complaining

about life, about the linger-

of those occasional whiffs

from the broken sewer.

Nor the rising sting of steam

emanating from his broken skin

pierced by the cruel sun.


Nor inhaling the dry cough of cars

and buses farted poison.

The way he exhaled yesterday

walking on a pavement slow,

feeling the throbbing locomotion

churn on his empty stomach.

A street urchin squeezing the crowd

like a fly hopping on a hope

above the grease and grime

that smeared a childhood.


He won’t cover the past

with today’s perfume

nor sanitize its images

in suds of detergent.

He’s not ashamed

of the scent of his past-

the smell of poverty

that swarmed his innocence

and have walked

the muddy line across

the nook and cranny

of his every bones.

He survived them all.

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A Moth In The Flame

Idealism is one glorious

iridescent flame-

a magnet to young blood

swathe in innocence. How

with our simplicity,

our winged resistance-

singed and burned. Died


until our ashes will mix

in the wick, obliterated

by mediocrity and irrelevance.

Our lives wasted and fading

to wisps of smoke-

in a country where poverty is

a usual sight. Everyday


like cockroaches,

we swarmed the sewers of society

and its livid pavement. Of placards-

waving vituperatives.

Flaunting invectives for a change

we vaguely understand. We


solicit publicity.

We paraded wearing black

signifying protest. While

those frigid walls, we painted red

in grafitti seeking sympathy-

disguising under the mask

by being a pro-masses. A peasant.

A proletariat. Civil


disobedience. We clasped

our fist imitating Che.

We lined up first against

tear gases and waterbombs,

provoking a phalanx

of uniformed men.

Maximum tolerance.  How


dangerous, how close

we have trodden

by knowing so little.

We advertise poverty

as a face to a cause,

bannering struggle for

autonomy, sugar-coated

manifesto of national democracy.

A sovereign common rule. Blindly


we morph

into mouthpieces. And fronted

as cynical puppets,

high decibeled in echolalia-

against powers in the high places.

Contending reasons

constricted within the bounds  

of our manufactured rhetoric

on utopia. We are



to see the world

as our oyster. We read

in our books a twisted history

of our beginnings. Taking

a stand by that rostrum

endlessly kvetching

the capitalists.

We became subservient,

as willing subjects to-


a coward. Who

shielded himself in

the backdrop of its

Nordic friends.

An ailing lion,

such an imperialist-

remotely controlling

his serfdom, extending

influence. Like a poison

to the minds of the horde

of pseudo intellectual-

moth as we are.

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There are three words to learn if you want to be in harmony with almost anyone.  This is sorry-if you have unintentionally hurt or done mistake against someone. Another is thank you -if you have received in gratitude any kind of help from someone else. And the last  word is please-if you need something or simply asking for some favors.

These three words I am not accustomed  to before.  But thanks, I met someone who is a principled man and indirectly taught me to practice these three words to live by each day.  One of them, is by saying thank you. This proves to be a liberating experience for me.

Another friend of mine has told me that it is a real pity for someone who is perenially ungrateful of what he has.  In poverty or in prosperity, we ought to thank the very people who helped us up and in gratitude to whatever circumstances we might be in. 

To be surrounded with ungrateful people is a stress.  These are people who saps out the energy from you, wallowing almost each day for the things they don’t have.  At some point in our lives, we should practice contentment. But I agree that this trait would be very hard for people who doesn’t have peace within themselves.  People who harbor some excess baggages from  unforgotten past, may it be failure, low self-esteem or hidden depressions.

Complaining often lead us to forget for the things that we should be thankful for.  And an unforgiving heart would only lead us much deeper into misery. 

Everyday is a blessing enough.  By that, all is said.

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My heart cries out, though no tears flow from my eyes.  But so deep a sorrow has left another scar to my being.  And a vivid reminder that I have been a foolish to reciprocate my circumstances with my short-sightedness of life. 

Uncle Rolly died a week ago.  Uncle Rolly has lived his life so many years away from the family.  We do not know his whereabouts for almost 20 full years.  He seems to have chosen a path of  a goner and never turned his back to spark any glint of communication with anyone of us. And its so sad. It’s very sad, that we never had the chance to spent time with him while he is still alive and help him get on improving his own circumstances.

This is the first time I have seen him and its kind of a quirky feeling to see him lying there on his coffin. Lifeless and cold. His steely resolve etched on the lines of his face hinting that he embraced his poverty as bravely as he could.  But he succumbed to misery.  Along with his family.

I ask Grandmom. I ask her what trigger Uncle Rolly to decide this kind of life. She said that Uncle Rolly’s father is a strict man.  Many of his children at their young adult life, stow away to exact their rebellion against him. Uncle Rolly is one of them but never came back. For so many years, he settled to a place so far away, and  tucked his children hidden from us.

Before he died, at the height of a strong typhoon Milenyo. They had a place near a dam which was totally devastated by a mudslide. 50 people died when their homes where carried away by the raging waters along with mud, fallen tree trunks and debris. Unknowing that his sons and daughter already left the place before it happened, he immediately search for them among the  piles of dead people.

He is overjoyed to know that his children were spared from this great tragedy. And days passed, while nobody has any inkling or any premonition of his death. He had his heart attack.

We also had our heart attack. To see their condition such as that.  And his childrens’ future becomes apparently rendered futile without any decent education to back them up, even for an elementary diploma. He left his five children in a state of despair, with his children uncertain where their life would lead them to.  And the mixed feelings of his children; of somewhat silently blame their father for their sorry state while also acknowledging the love that their father has for them.

Uncle Rolly is also a victim of circumstance. He tried to show his love for his children for keeping them intact at his side. He tried to proove a point how a loving father should be unlike his own father.  Afraid that fate will also exact revenge on him for abandoning his family.  But the great paradox of life, would let him see otherwise.

And it is also for me.  Letting me see that I should not question my own circumstances.  My father also tried to proove to me how a loving father should be. Though he is a disciplinarian, he only wanted for me a decent education and a civilized way of thinking and attitude.  There is none he could give me but only this.  It is a chance that I should be thankful for.  And I would not dare again blame him for the things I never had.

With Uncle Rolly’s children, it would take time for them to figure this out.  But the family has opened their arms wide this time. We just wanted to heal the wounds of time and try to do something until there is time left. We do not want our cousins wallow in their self-pity and inferiority after their father’s death.  We wanted to let them feel that they have got a family after all these years. And knowing God’s help will surely find its way for them.

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(CLIP NO. 1) An old man is seen on TV noontime show jubilantly dancing with foreigners and middle-class Filipinos  seems lost in a frenzy of dizzying camera tricks and blaring noise of the crowd and music. The TV show host seems to symphatize with the heart-breaking tales of contestants about their hard life and asks the audience  to  help  by giving them big green bucks.

(CLIP NO. 2) A child belted out a song about a heartbreak of two lovers in a weekly singing contest, in which case is inapproriate for her  young age. And the same story goes, may it be teens and adults who loves to sing it out and try their luck to that flickerry superstardom.

(CLIP NO.3) A typical  housewife choosing her numbers right hoping to pin the million peso jackpot down with all the excitement and suspense from the audience and the televiewers. Played by mixed emotions endangering sanity and on the verge of bitterly experiencing  defeat and deep regret.

(CLIP NO. 4) A teenager who happens to join a reality based show with a 24-hour surveillance cameras poking out of the walls to transmit images of claustrophobia and individual eccentric habits broadcasted on national TV.

This scenario is quite typical with the present trending of catching the reality out of shows. Shows that are entertaining and  showcasing the many faces of poverty. Where the lives of everyday Filipinos are being exploited and manipulated for the sake of commercialization.  We seem to symphatize and see these efforts of television networks as noble in the service of the Filipino.  But wait.

Aren’t the people behind these big entertainment businesses belongs to the upper class of our society. They use all sorts of media to usurp the people’s trust by promising them of temporal relief of winning the game. Of raising their self- esteem as if they had conquered the world and made for themselves a name out of their true situations in life.

Seriously, we are overwhelmingly entertained by poverty. But this issue of poverty should not be misused for the further gains of the rich and famous.  We should not be misled into believing that winning a game is our salvation.  And it is a shame to many professionals, institutions and industries to take advantage of the present hype and earn big profits from it.  The poor  like  many of us, are being stripped  of our privacies  and self-worth, appearing to be  a laughing stock.  A clown.  A perennial  entertainer to the world. 

Shame to the people in government, who are also being trailed by the blinding studio lights and catching that sixty seconds of frame of fame.  And believing that being televised is quite an achievement on its part and propel towards an ambitious political career. A politician turned into a circus star. Will that make any difference at all? Of how our statistics will clearly show that winners of  a five-digit or a six-digit cash prize is just a drop in an ocean of poor people living in this country.  Depressed, unemployed and without hope to find a decent living.

Our present cultural system kills the dignity of our existence as Filipinos. And how the vision of getting a quick fix in the name of the easy money have continuously keeping us from ever attempting to salvage our economy, our education, our belief system and our society from the downturn. I would not be so surprised if one day, we have come to the point of selling our poverties for entertainment until there is nothing more left for us.  And we are just clowning  around for the most part of our lives, living in a disillusioned and unrealistic but politically motivated world of the boob tube.

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