Hope is a special word for special people who are not me.
The majority of Filipinos who live on the streets in my city accept their depressing fate and are certain that nothing good will happen and that their lives will never change. Disheartening as this seems, most street kids or street families have given up chasing a better life.
In search of a new story, I took a stroll around Barangay 7 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Many residents were spending their leisure time in the barangay’s covered court. I was greeted with smiles (they recognized me as I live nearby) thus I felt comfortable approaching them.
As I settled in the Sari-Sari store while drinking a Sprite, a lanky teenager caught my attention, and we started chatting. I asked if he was still in school; where he lived and other small details about his life.
“I don’t know miss, I grew up poor, and I think I’ll die poor. I don’t want much in life, as long as we eat three times a day them I’m good with that. I stopped going to school because I don’t think we’ll get anywhere. It would be a waste of money if I’ll go to school; I know we’ll still be poor. I think we’ll be street kids for life.”
Typical Pinoy Mentality
As much as I want to deny it, one of the most common Filipino traits is complaining and getting too comfortable with what they have. Though resilience and contentment may not be something negative, it does impact a person’s drive to do more, excel and compel them to live a better life.
Most Filipinos who live in poverty have lost their drive to do better and strive for a more comfortable life. Most of them are too content with government subsidies that are incredibly meagre and don’t bother to look for a job.
Impact of Poverty on Child’s Outlook in Life
There are times when a child’s parent/s will harass them due to the stress brought about by poverty. It is not uncommon in rural barangay to hear mothers yell, blaming their children for their misery.
Though LGUs (Local Government Unit) often extend assistance, it is never enough to boost morale or improve the lifestyle of those living in extreme poverty. Filipinos living below the poverty line in my city have given up on anything other than misery.
Most Street Children Are Deprived of Their Rights
Every child has his/ her own rights such as the right to eat, to receive education, and the right to play. These may be basic needs, but the majority of children living in poverty are deprived of these simple necessities. Poverty is the primary reason why children are deprived of these basic rights, especially the right to 3 meals a day.
Recent statistics reported that the Philippines is one of the countries that upholds the rights of minors. Out of 163 countries PH ranked as 73rd, cited in the KidsRights Foundation. Philippines is known for its capability to curb children from engaging in child labor and the country is also doing its best to decrease the number of teenage pregnancies.
Despite the efforts of NGO’s and the small government sector to provide the children’s with the basic needs that they are entitled to, they are still struggling in terms of support and funding thus full implementation cannot be rolled-out. It may be easy to plan out and strategize, but implementation is often challenging due to several factors such as lack of funds, lack of help from the LGU and lack of overall support from the government.
Will Poverty Be Resolved?
Poverty is a universal problem, but poverty in the Philippines is quite difficult to solve, realistically speaking. It may not be impossible to solve the issue on joblessness and poverty, but it all boils down to a person’s desire to change.
There are those who work two shifts a day, just so they can life a better life, but there are those who have given up on improving their lives and have settled to being poor and unemployed. If a person wants to improve their life, they will apply for any job, regardless if it is minimum wage.
In my hometown, Bacolod, there are families living in almost every abandoned building. What’s even more frustrating is the fact that most of their children will freely sniff Rugby (liquid solvent) and cause mischief. Children as young as five are exposed to solvent, but pluralistic ignorance will always surface. I am one of those who will look away, knowing that I can’t do anything to help these families stray from their current situation.
It’s frustrating to know that children who grew up in poverty are instilled with a mindset that they will remain poor. Lack of motivation, vision and hope are three of the most common drivers as to why people living in Philippine poverty have accepted their fate.
The most that I can do is to create awareness, and prompt my readers to see how beautiful our country is, but it needs a lot of fixing. Foreigners may see my country as a paradise, but hidden beneath the beauty are the hungry children longing to be fed and loved.
Written by Abbie Uychiat
Abbie Uychiat studied BS Psychology and is an aspiring independent film director based in the Philippines. She is a dreamer and is juggling the joys of single motherhood, her career as a recruitment specialist and a freelance writer. Part of her mission is to provide a better and cleaner Philippines for the future generation.