Some 4 years back, I uttered the very words that are haunting me now.
“Dapat kasi yung mga taxpayers lang ang may karapatang bumoto.”
Those words were uttered out of sheer frustration of the election results. A new brand of leadership has emerged. One that is more relatable to the masses. One that seems to give more hope to the marginalized poor. I was doubtful of it though. All the red flags were there, still are.
So many things have happened since then. I regret saying those words. I have long taken them back. I realized I still want the marginalized poor to retain their rights to vote, it is their last semblance of hope to the bleak reality that they already have. If you think about it, it is the politicians who continue to exploit them, vote buying, empty promises, of course any person in a vulnerable socio-economic situation will easily fall into the trap. It’s like dangling a piece of meat to a pack of very hungry wolves.
These days the issue of tax has sprung up again. The concerns are valid. I especially commend Gov. Jonvic Remulla for being one of the first government official to acknowledge the plight of the mostly overseen middle working class. It sounded like victory for all of us.
Then the narrative suddenly changed.
Now the enemy are the poor. And the 4Ps program is suddenly being questioned.
Because apparently the government does not have enough funds to provide for all citizens of various social classes. The poor have to be prioritized. And so chaos erupted on Facebook which was understandable given the situation that we are in now. Self preservation, it rings the most truth during matters of life and death such as a pandemic. I guess it also tells you who among your circle of friends and relatives are selfless enough.
I spoke with a friend who works in the community development program to get some firsthand insights. She will afterall speak from a point of view that’s supported by both experience and statistics as a result of years and years of immersion.
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also known as 4Ps and formerly bangon Pamilyang Pilipino, is a CONDITIONAL cash transfer program of the Philippine government under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The operative word is conditional. I probed further.
First, the target beneficiaries of 4Ps are the poorest of the poor. These aren’t just the urban poor that the middle class are referring to as lazy and stupid. Some of them are farmers, people who lost their livelihood because of a calamity, and those who are really in dire need of help like PWDs and senior citizens especially the abandoned ones.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of CONDITIONS (they need to attend health seminars and family planning sessions, family development sessions, their children need to attend schools where one invalid absence could mean disqualification from the program) that need to be met and fulfilled before they can qualify as recipients.
My friend says that in all fairness, the compliance verification system shows high compliance rates on health (97.10%), education (95.97%) and attendance to Family Development Sessions (FDS) (94.81%) which means that most recipients follow these conditions.
Also, it is important to note that there are also projects conducted by DSWD to help them live a life that will eventually make them independent from the program for them to not become recipients anymore. In fact, the latest report shows that 341,757 households have already “graduated” from the 4Ps program and have waived their recipient status because they are now living a better life.
But here’s the thing. As with any other program, it is flawed.
Some undeserving recipients (like maybe that Aling Alma who was interviewed by GMA news who knows) might have fallen through the cracks. These people were mostly included in the list of 4Ps recipients mostly because of padrino system, the very thing that we hate in our culture but some of you may be also enjoying or benefitting from in some other form.
If there are people who are abusing the 4Ps program, the right thing to do is to report.
But that’s the thing, most people would rather turn a blind eye on wrong things than be inconvenienced.
A few rotten apples doesn’t t mean you cut down the tree. You just need to pluck out those fruits from the tree.
If the logic is to abolish the whole program because of 4Ps recipients you know who aren’t deserving at all, then let us think of those people who rightfully deserve to be helped.
My friend also shared this for better understanding of how socio economic situations can affect decision making skills or lack thereof, pertaining to the perceived notion that the poor are tamad, mabisyo, anak lang ng anak.
From Novotney’s article about Eldar’s study on the scarcity mindset, “Being poor requires so much mental energy that those with limited means — be they sugarcane farmers in India or New Jersey mall-goers — are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions than those with bigger financial cushions”. They’re not poor simply because they don’t work hard or there’s an issue with their character, they live in a context where anyone is more likely to make poor decisions. It is the environment who help shape their values and thinking in life. If there are people who were able to get out of poverty alive, they are the outliers, my family included.
Furthermore, in the Filipino culture, children are seen as investments and family planning is still considered taboo as a by product of fatal optimism heavily influenced by religion.
After everything has been said and done, the only point that I’d like to give across is “Let us not condemn the poor. Instead let us help end the cycle of poverty by supporting social equity than pushing for social equality.”
The idea of social equality can only be achieved when we are able to have social equity first.
Tandaan natin hindi pa tayo ang nasa pinakataas ng social class ladder. Kapag naringgan natin ang mga mayayaman ng hinaing for social amelioration to be proportional to the taxes that they are paying, baka umiyak tayo. At magbago na naman ang diskurso.
Sabi nga ng totoong champion of the masses: “Those who have less in life should have more in law.” – Pres. Ramon Magsaysay
Eight years of bliss. That’s how I would describe our marriage. We also experience the occasional ups and down from time to time ~ but these are mostly figments of my inner drama queen or brought about by my hormonal self. EVERY.FREAKIN’.MONTH.
You can call me crazy. Thank you very much. But let me get on with my story first.
I used to be very grumpy and snotty. I was headstrong and highstrung. My mother will be the first to tell you that. I make it a point to give everyone a piece of my mind especially those who I think deserve it ~ even if it meant breaking up friendships and whatnot and eventually losing people in my life. I didn’t care. I always felt the need to be heard and to be right. I was advocating women empowerment anyway.
Then I met The Husband. I was 24, this was at a time when my temper was at its worst and my arrogance was at its peak. I easily snapped at people. I was condescending of people who I felt were not smart enough. I was generally disrespectful. And yet, there came this guy who was not intimidated at all. He was calm and collected. He had this quiet confidence in him that told me he can deal with my inner Gabriela while still respecting my views on life and feminism. He fell in love with me, pursued me and made me fall in love with him also.
One random day, we decided to take this psychological online test just for fun. There was one particular question that struck me. It was about how one will deal when you start losing cookies in your labeled cookie jar in the office. Even theoretical questions like this push my buttons. My response was obvious. I chose “I’d make sure I find out who the sneaky thief is and will give him/her a piece of my mind, even bring it to HR if necessary.”
I then peeked at The Husband’s (then boyfriend) response and it went along the lines of “I will make sure to offer the cookies to my officemates next time so they need not steal or get from the jar without my permission.”
That was a lightbulb moment for me. There I was, whose greatest dream in life back then was to be a volunteer worker in South Africa, but wasn’t living my advocacy in my own, real world. That (and more!) was my signal that this man was husband material.
Can I also share a gross but unforgettable moment while I was visiting The Boyfriend’s (The Husband now) house. We were just bf-gf then. There was a party at their house I think. Unfortunately, my dysmenorrhea was so bad on that day that I puked and pooped (Goodlord!) in their bathroom and then fainted. Noel who was just then a boyfriend, cleaned up my mess without even flinching, cleaned me up as well, gave me meds and massaged my arms and legs to soothe the pain away. That kind of sealed the deal. Or the fact that he has seen me at my worst and I can’t just kill him and annihilate him from the Earth, right? Kiddiiiiiing 😉
When people who don’t personally know The Husband would ask me to describe his traits, I’d always say something like “He’s not your typical Filipino guy” and they’d look at me like I said something gibberish. When I say not typical, let me count the ways:
1. The Husband is not fond of drinking and/or going out with friends. His social circle is limited to his college barkada who are all dedicated family men. When they do meet up, wives and children are always tagged along. Yes, boring. Hahaha. Now that The Husband started working for a new company, I am encouraging him to go out and join his teammates/colleagues when they go out. He needs it in his life.
2. We are still childless after 8 years of marriage. We are not on birth control that’s for sure and we do it. ALL THE TIME. Hahaha. Some people will inevitably comment on the childless-ness: some are just concerned citizens, some are just curious while the others are downright insensitive and rude. But in any of these, I have never felt any form of insecurity from The Husband even when rude people try to question his manhood, he easily shrugs it off. The Husband loves children and I know he wants to be a dad someday but he never made me feel like it’s an issue or a serious concern in this marriage. I even remember a time when I almost teared up because I overheard him responding to a colleague’s question about our plans of conceiving. He said “If it’s meant to be, it will happen. I love my wife and I am happy she still gets to enjoy all the things that she loves to do like traveling, reading and writing. That can all change when we already have a child.” He is not aware that I eavesdropped on that conversation. Up to this freaking day. I, for one is a different story altogether. I never really dreamed of motherhood and I don’t envy women who are. But we’ll see when we get there.
3. While most men are used to not doing any household chores at home, The Husband, sees to it that we share the chores but he mostly does the cooking, washing dishes, hanging and ironing clothes etc. His love language is service so I have been living like a princess (he calls me Queen btw coz princess sounds like a damsel in distress which he says is so not me) for 8 years now.
Being with The Husband for the last 12 years (dating included) has made me believe in love again, made me trust that there are still men of honor out there. I came from a family where my parents’ marriage is not exactly healthy. Must be because they married young ~ you know a lot of fighting and bickering at home mostly because of infidelity from my dad’s end and/or persistent nagging from my mom. It made me wary of marriage and of men. I guess that is where all my angst and feistiness were coming from.
But after a few years of being in an environment that consistently exhibited love and respect, I began to notice that my temper has eased up, my anger management issues have subsided, my judgemental self has slowly been replaced by a more emphatic one and that I have slowly transformed to a calmer, happier and kinder version of myself. My emotions do not control me now. Well except for that time of the month. My parents are also happier and more respecting of each other now. I’d like to think they got that from us. Hahaha.
But I guess what’s even more amazing is in all those 8 years, I have never felt that The Husband loved me any less or loved me more at any stage in our marriage. His love was always steadfast and unconditional. And that is what I am deeply thankful for.
I wrote this post to find a spot in the world wide web where I can let the whole world know how immensely grateful I am for finding a man like my husband ~ not to brag but just to inspire.
You know when I was young, I wished for a smart husband, someone I can have intelligent conversations with until I’m old and gray. The Lord gave me just that (The Husband knows Greek and Roman mythology more than I do, is King of Trivia and is armed with Math, MS Excel and even gaming skills to boot – a certified geek! His written grammar is also flawless, no jeje text coming from my man unless he intends to annoy me).
But more than blessing me with a man who has a good head on his shoulders, I think the Lord felt like I needed a man with a good heart as well. The Husband was the vehicle for the positive change that needed to happen in my life.
Okay, that wraps up my drama for the year 😉
I am also sharing the below FB app game that accurately depicts our personalities. I couldn’t agree more. Walang basagan ng trip. Hahaha.
2017 brought me closer to an interest that I didn’t imagine I would like. I was introduced to the world of Korean Drama and there was no turning back. I guess what was interesting about it is that my closest friends have been fans of KDrama for years already and I wasn’t interested at all! In fact, I’d usually roll my eyes once they start talking about it in my presence. I was a certified KDrama snob but stress from work led me to finding a new diversion and now, I’m hooked!
I even joined a Facebook group of fans so I can learn more about it – what dramas to watch, who are the lead actors/actresses and why KDrama is such an interesting thing for almost every girl I know. I joined the bandwagon, so to speak.
In that Facebook page, I was encouraged to write reviews for my Top Three Best KDramas aired in 2017 that I have finished watching. Here you go:
Well, that most recent blog post was not what I expected my comeback post would be. It sounded rather negative and whiny. Emotionally charged, yes, but in a bad way. Apologies.
So, I stopped blogging a year ago. I stopped writing altogether. The pressure and workload in the office left me with little or no time to write. I won’t say it’s all bad. It was actually a mix of both – good and bad. I had to focus on the groups that I was managing and step up to my leadership role in the organization. Oh, that was tough. But I was also able to travel for free because of work – to Singapore in November 2016 and to London (again!) in April 2017. This most recent London trip gave me the chance to reconnect with a friend who works for our client. I got to explore and enjoy more of London this time because of her company. I thank God for these opportunities. In-between I also had a personal travel with family back in March. My long-time project of bringing my parents to Hong Kong for their birthday finally materialized and I couldn’t be any happier. It might be normal for most families but for us who come from the working class, it’s quite an achievement. It’s definitely the highlight of this year for me. The Husband and I are also looking forward to our anniversary trip to Singapore this November. Thank you 2017!
But even with a lot of things going on in my life, I still wasn’t writing. Then something happened a few days ago and because I got so frustrated, I picked up the proverbial “pen” and blogged again. I opened up, shared my emotions, told my story and it felt liberating.
This past weekend was one of the best family vacations we ever had.
We stayed in this exquisite bed & breakfast place called The Coffee Farmhouse where we spent the most amazing weekend. This place reminded me so much of my grandparents’ home in the province which brought back a lot of happy memories of my childhood years. Continue reading “Paradise On Earth – The Coffee Farmhouse”→
I found myself traveling to Pangasinan over the weekend. Solo.
I’ve missed my friend, Sasha, so much that I decided to hop on a bus and take the 5-hour trip to her hometown. She and her adorable little munchkin of a baby recently moved back to her parents’ place in the province. I haven’t seen them for a few months now and I wanted to spend some time with them. Continue reading “Hey Soul Sister”→