Thursday, November 08, 2007

Putting A Face On Poverty

The United Nations report on poverty and hunger in the Philippines is alarming. The claims of the government about our economy is nothing but insulting. I am sure you've heard of the 12-yr. old girl who committed suicide. If not, I would like to share with you this heart-wrenching article that has put a face on poverty.

All Mariannet Amper wanted was to finish her studies. Its sad that her wish will never come true. A day after her father failed to give her P100 for a school project, Mariannet hanged herself in their small shanty. The father who was able to borrow P1,000 arrived too late. All he went home to was a home filled with sorrow.

Mariannet wrote her sentiments in her school diary. Her Oct. 5 entry said that she felt like she's been absent for a month and that she did not even notice that its almost Christmas. Her father said that they had no money for her fare and food that Mariannet had to skip school. Her entry for Oct. 14 said that they were not able to hear mass as they did not have money for their fare and that her father was sick. She and her mother had to do laundry just to have something for the table.

Her unsent letter to GMA-7's Wish Ko Lang show which realizes the wishes of needy letter-senders was found in her diary as well. She wrote, she wished for a new bag and a pair of shoes, a small livelihood for her parents, a bike and for her to be able to finish her studies.

Their family is the poorest of the poor. Even their poor neighbors are well off compared to them. They are rejected by their very neighbors because they were filthy. There were even times that they begged from their neighbors for leftovers just to have something to eat.

The poor girl is long gone. The trickle down of Gloria's 7.5 GDP did not reach her or will ever rich children like her. The girl has matured faster because of the hard life they had. She wouldn't be this desperate to think of such an act in her tender age if she was like just any other kid.

I couldn't put sense into all these. All that flooded my mind was how many like her are out there? Gloria can give hundreds of thousands of pesos to her already rich and fat-bellied allies while 3 million kids under the age of 5 are malnourished. She can give half a million to governors while 52 million Filipinos say they are poor. Its too late for Gloria to release P1 billion for poverty alleviation. The threat of rising prices looms in the horizon, ready to engulf an already impoverished nation.

There is no sense in reactionary responses. She should have developed proactive programs years before. She is the second longest serving president. But of course her interests come first and the Filipinos last. She would rather spend billions making her cohorts happy and making sure of her political survival. Finally poverty has a face and a name. Poverty is Mariannet Amper, the 12 yr. old girl who only wanted to finish her studies so she can help her impoverished family.

*Thanks to the Inquirer for the photo.