Trash for Food, Agony for Justice
(A post-SoNA rambling partially inspired
by the homily of Fr. Benjamin Alforque MSC)
"Wow Lovers! Looking for food sa Trash!"
These are the words Fr. Benjamin Alforque said in his Sunday Sermon several sundays ago.
Based from his observation outside his Sta. Mesa residence, he sought destitute people scavenging in a garbage bin for food.
Quite usual to see in the streets especially in Metro Manila, but pitiful to see them, especially to see a couple scavenging restaurant and household remains for their children. Worse, these leftovers are also scavenged by dogs, cats, rats, nonewithstanding the consequences their bodies would have if eaten. In every morsel they ate coming from that garbage, exposed for hours, would meant an illness awaiting their fragile bodies.
But the sermon of Fr. Ben is more than just pity, for these poor people are in need of help besides from themselves. Such observations unveil a face of realities the system has trying to hid for years, of trying to create walls to hid the shantytowns, if not forcing the poor to "enjoy" in a resort all for the sake of making an impression. Regardless of what the system tries to create, the gap remains widened thanks to poverty, unemployment, maldevelopment, illiteracy. Its rates continues to increase same as those of increasing Gross National and Domestic Products, improved credit ratings, and even imports that also crippled those who desire to prosper communities and their well-being.
The system may continue to promise anything just to impres people that the fruits of national developement are reaching those who yearn if not to their dinner tables; yet these are half-baked, wholly rhetorical, or even tainted by intrigue. And if it's true that there's development and a semblance of progress, then how come there are still people scavenging garbage for food?
Pardon this person for making this writeup as the priest's sermon are wholly based from his observations. Quite socio-political than religious in nature with poverty and injustice as examples why people need faith and be complimented by works; but remember, san Martin de Porres was born slave, became priest, yet he helped the poor and the needy; mother Theresa of Kolkata had afforded to help the sick and the destitute. There are other saints that became saints not because of faith alone but by practising faith through putting justice and solidarity for hope and charity.
And these are more than religious in nature, for actually, these figures also yearn not just spiritual rebirth but also social change to improve themselves, uplift their dignity, so is the community. Peeople know that the system fails to uplift them, and the church, despite having enough funds to provide charity, urges the government to take serious in the task of bridging the gaps and to end injustices knowing that these administrators are perhaps Christians or any other religion, and be obliged by faith with God everyone knows as just; but no! They can't take actions in the name of maintaining interest, if not be treated seriously like those who scavenge garbage for food! Where were the taxes collected from womb to tomb anyway? Are most of it already in the pockets of the few if not carelessly and unconsiderably spent?
Sorry for those words, but the needy, the yearning, the struggling, are calling for real change the system fails to take it beyond the parameters. If Marcos was right about the revolt of the poor, then yes, whether from the shantytown or from the underdeveloped countryside, the affected is demanding a serious clamour that requires unity amongst themselves and struggle against those who made them disenfranchised.
Imagine, 80,000 infants died annually from preventable diseases, 6 out of 10 Filipinos without seeing doctors, and 221 deaths from 1000 live births; 11.1 million are unemployed if not underemployed, 44 out of 100 are having non-regular jobs not enough for survival, and wages remained low (2-5%) regardless of rising productivity rates (26%) with 66 million relied on 125 pesos per day. Those who scavenge trash for food would be one example of a nation experiencing a worst phase involving hunger, poverty, and maldevelopment. There are more figures to justify yearning for change and calling for God's help as they roll their sleeves and assert something more than what a system forced everyone to content with.
On the first place, why to content in an unjust living standard if the system afforded to say words of hope including those of change? True that people worked hard and smart in order to uplift and bring changes for themselves, but if this person may ask, what kind of change within the self is talking about by many? Is it like harnessing one's skill for the betterment of all such as learning while serving the people trying to free from injustice? Or a typical cycle of life trying to idealise by many like finishing school, get a job, and an endless cycle of earn more, buy and consume for chrissakes? Perhaps they didn't notice that social change, of reordering the social order, of dismantling the dilapidated system in favour of a youthful new, affects the individual being a steward for one's self and others, especially in a country whose inclination is communitarian; but if the ones on high insist an individualist answer to a communitarian question all for the sake of "keeping the peace" seems that they forgot that those who really assert for social change are the ones who have the initiative yet underestimated by an order whose intention is to befell than to succeed. Of what is change if it is not for all, particularly those who really desired for it? Of those who content in their poverty despite toiling hard to the extent of scavenging trash for food in order to survive?
It's up to the ones on high, particularly those who have sanities and "idealism" to brag, if they really take the situation seriously as a challenge; but to those who forge, plough, build, remold for one's self and others, God, being the dispenser of justice, has dispensed to those who had really clamour for it- especially in this era of storm and distress.