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Cycle of Life

Poverty now is not only limited to lack of basic needs such as Food, Shelter and Clothing. This time, it includes lack of healthcare, clean water, education and nutrition. Human needs also evolve just like technology. The human mind is so intelligent that a new gadget could be obsolete in just a few days with a better, stronger and faster upgrade. The Philippines has roughly 93 million inhabitants and a majority of the them are under the poverty line. While the definition of poverty has a lot of meaning from different individuals, scholars and organizations, one thing is sure, poverty do not satisfy an individual and it occurs in all countries.

Poverty is a big problem of any society. The young, as early as a few days old, can feel this through for the things surrounding him. For every adult, it’s a nightmare, like a dream without hope, darkness around, misery or even as simply like a dizzy state with only faith to hold on to and no cure. The blaming game is just a natural act, but the result is nonetheless the same. The Filipino family loves to be with their children. Children that are dependent to their parents are not an issue unlike in western countries. There is nothing wrong in loving. What is wrong is a lack of knowledge due to poverty, and the capacity to think of the difference between right and wrong.

Luningning Bere is dark with short black flip away hair. She looks strong for a housekeeper due to her relatively masculine body built, harsh voice and 140 pounds in body weight. She is forty years old from Barangay Basiad, Sta Elena, Camarinez Norte. She is an Elementary graduate with nine siblings. Her mother is a housewife while her father is a fisherman just like her husband. She has nine Children, their ages are 24,22,19,16,14,13,12,10 and 1. Her reason in applying as a housekeeper, is to help her husband buy new “lambat”. According to her, if the “lambat” is new, it catches more fishes. In Camarinez Norte, she helps her husband by way of selling the fishes , “nilalako sa bahay bahay”.

Her husband who is forty four years old is also an elementary graduate. He married Luningning when Luningning was only sixteen years old and she said, she was in love. The situation of her husband parents are the same as her parents. The mother is a housewife while the father is a farmer. As a fisherman, the average income per day is 200.00 pesos. Luningning doesn’t have any regrets for having nine children and she stopped because her doctor told her that “manipis na ang bahay bata” so she needs to stop giving birth. They don’t use any condoms and pills because of her “varicose veins”, that’s what her doctor told her. As a housekeeper, her monthly salary is 2,500.00 pesos. She left all her children to her mother’s care with the consent of her husband. Two of her children are married already and both live with their respective husbands. Her sons in laws work are also fishing and her daughters are also stay-at-home wives. Three of her children graduated in high school. She practiced her rights to vote last May 2010 election. She voted for Pnoy for president, Mirriam Santiago for senator. She doesn’t remember who she voted for for the position of vice president.

This is one significant pattern of life which seems to occur repetitively in families which I noticed when I attended the planning session at Philippines for Center and Population development (PCPD). It is very hard to break the cycle because of population. Usually, the work of the parents will also be the work of the children. What kind of quality of life do you think Luningning can give to her loved ones with nine children and a limited source of income. She said she is happy, but is happiness enough?

With poverty not only in the Philippines, but all around the world, with so much wealth, financial stability and great minds from first class countries, is distribution the problem? For every change there is resistance, possibly due to the culture in the Philippines. This may continue in this lifetime. With the majority of the population under the poverty line, political will reform may be the answer. With the executive power and connections with different organizations, utopia can be achieved, if not now, some time in the future moving forward one step at a time. The next generation will benefit from this. There may not have one single “Luningning” again with nine kids and poor. Her name could be translated in english as “shining.”

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BlogWatch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for their story on “Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” . Forbes Philippines also received the same award.

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