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Christmas Celebration of the Poor

Paul is an Engineer. A graduate from a Catholic University. A rebel and a romantic...

An Image of Poverty during the Christmas Season

Beggars in the Philippines during Christmas Season

Beggars in the Philippines during Christmas Season

A Christmas Happy Meal (A Hungry Poor Man's Poem)

I hope we can eat at Mc Donald’s on Christmas Day

But I can’t. I can’t ‘cause I don’t have the money to pay

To pay for the Mc muffins with cheese that we will consume

Together with pancakes, hash brown and coffee whose fume

Will run through my nose…to my lungs…to my heart…to my soul

These we will devour at a high price to keep ourselves full

We will eat and eat…Pour more apple sauce and become fools…

Fools who are hopelessly beholding this borderless bowl.


Smiling lady behind the counter quickly fill this tray

I must finish eating before the godlings start to pray

For the sight of them kneeling makes me want to stop eating

I can’t afford to be stressed out by something disgusting.


I’m a fool hopelessly beholding this borderless bowl

They are fools hopelessly believing that they still have souls.

The godlings want to cure me of my so-called obsession

Tho’ they are suff’ring from their promiscuous pretension.

3 Faces of Poverty in the Philippines during the Christmas Season

Based on the 2015 data of the Philippine Statistic Authority, there are 22 million Filipinos living below poverty line. That is 1/5 of the total population of the Philippines.

According also to the same 2015 data, To be able to provide the basic food and non-food needs of a family of five members, a household should have a total income of about USD 400 per month. However, 4 million out of the 22 million families in the Philippines do not reach that income. These families earn 29 percent lower than the poverty threshold income of USD 400 per month.


First Face: The 10 percent


Out of the four million poor families, ten percent are under extreme poverty. The members of these "poorer than the poor" families are likely to resort to scavenging scraps and begging just to be able to eat everyday.


Unfortunately, many of these people are used by syndicates to beg for money specially during the holiday seasons. It is common to see in the streets of Metro Manila young mothers cradling infants while begging money from motorists or from those passing by.There were also reports that many of the beggars are drugged so that they will look more lifeless and accumulate more alms.


If not resorting to begging or scavenging, some unfortunately embrace the life of crime, prostitution, or just destroy oneself through substance abuse.


Second Face: The Pretenders

Apart from exploitation of beggars during the Holiday Season, another mentality of the Filipinos that sinks many families to poverty is the desire to impress other people.While it is not bad to share a meal with your loved ones, the problems starts when people actually borrow money just to have an extravagant feast to serve to guests during the Christmas Season.


The Third Face: Hard Working Poor

And then there are the poor families whose members work a decent blue collar job. They aim to have a modest celebration of Christmas. Although they have regular jobs, their combined incomes is not enough to battle the crippling effects of inflation on commodity goods, rising cost of transportation, and utility.


This is where our family once belonged. What is particularly painful in this situation is that you know very well that you are working hard to achieve that dream for your family but your payslip just won't let you have one.




Foods served in a celebration I once attended. Many people would choose to be broke in January 2019 just to have something to impress their guests in the last few days of December.

Foods served in a celebration I once attended. Many people would choose to be broke in January 2019 just to have something to impress their guests in the last few days of December.

Fast Foods and "Pagpag"

To many filipinos to be able to eat at a fast food is already a luxury. Eating at Mc Donald's, KFC, and Jollibee is reserved for special occassions such as birthdays and holidays such as Christmas. One sad reality in the vibrant fast food industry in the Philippines is that many of the workers are over worked and paid minimum wage.

A more disturbing truth is that food scraps in the garbage bin of some of these fast food chains are collected by scavengers. The scavengers sort and wash the collected scraps, and then cooks it. The cooked garbage is sold as dishes called "Pagpag". Pagpag is literaly shake-off in english. Such is the term because the scavengers shake-off the dirt from the food taken from the garbage bin.


Buyers are aware that the food they are buying are taken from the garbage bins. People eating cooked garbage as food is a sign of how desperate most people are.


I am sharing a news report from a Philippine News Network which shows poor people eating cooked garbage.

How can we address the problem of poverty?

To address the poverty problem not just during Christmas but for generations to come the following should be the focus of the Government:

• Create more and better jobs;

• Improve the productivity in all sectors, especially agriculture;

• Equip Filipinos with skills needed for the 21st century economy (focus on IT);

• Invest in health and nutrition (feeding program at schools);

• Focus poverty reduction efforts on rural areas (such as Mindanao); and

• Manage disaster risks and protect the vulnerable.

Of course we can do our little share in helping the poor by supporting charities or volunteering/donating in gift-giving programs, but these are just temporary solutions. The Government can better provide long term solutions to solve poverty as they have the access to resources to do so. We, the citizens, have also done our share in the long term fight against poverty through the taxes we pay.

The poem I wrote, is about how a poor man sees Christmas, himself, the government, and other people. Love is somewhat missing in the poem because that is essentially what is missing in our technological and commercial world today.

Again as I have expressed in one haiku I have written:

"Don't stop giving love
On December 26
Everyday share love."

© 2018 Ryan Paul S Balagtas

Comments

Ryan Paul S Balagtas (author) from Philippines on December 11, 2018:

Sadly, PoetikalyAnointed, that is the reality for many people here. Hopefully, this 2019 the right people gets elected here. We need servant leaders. We need intelligent voters. We need to wake up as a nation.

PoetikalyAnointed on December 11, 2018:

Oh My God... cooked scraps! Lord Have Mercy on those who indulge and for those who don't even have that!

Ryan Paul S Balagtas (author) from Philippines on December 11, 2018:

I updated the article by the way to highlight one of symbols of poverty in our country the "Pagpag". This is cooked scraps taken from the garbage bin. Such a sad state.

PoetikalyAnointed on December 10, 2018:

You welcome Paul.

That's exactly why I'm here...to make a positive difference in this world. We are NOT at a good place. Too many folks denying God and filling the void with soul-killing habits.

Wake Up Y'all!

Ryan Paul S Balagtas (author) from Philippines on December 10, 2018:

Thank you for your comments PoetikalyAnointed. We really need to wake up as a human race. Recent news in our country is disturbing stating that some beggars throw acid at people who don't give them alms. We are leaving our humanity behind as we try to survive. I believe this is the road that will lead to modern day extinction not physical death but death of our characters.... And as writers, I hope we'd use our words to help in the task of "waking up" people before it's too late.

PoetikalyAnointed on December 09, 2018:

Very touching and somber Hub, Paul.

The statics you presented are reflections on how we live today. The word "self-less" seems foreign to masses these days. We are prompted by society to plurge that $1 instead of saving it. We are encouraged to "get ours" at the cost of others. I pray that man will wake up from the dream and do better.

Thanks for sharing.

Ryan Paul S Balagtas (author) from Philippines on December 07, 2018:

Thanks John and Clive. I just felt the need to post this article after a jailed senator in our country was acquitted of plunder (while his staff are guilty). Then a few weeks ago, a former First Lady found guilty of graft was allowed to bail and never had jail time. Several cases against corrupt officials were dismissed in the past 2 years. Whereas, some poor offenders here are jailed, humiliated, or worse just shot dead.

The "Rulers" of our country will celebrate Christmas in their mansions while the cries of middle class, the poor people are just ignored.

I just hope our leaders remember what Christmas is all about and do their best to become servant leaders...

:)

Ryan Paul S Balagtas (author) from Philippines on December 07, 2018:

Thanks John and Clive. I just felt the need to post this article after a jailed senator in our country was acquitted of plunder (while his staff are guilty). Then a few weeks ago, a former First Lady is found guilty of graft was allowed to bail and never had jail time. Several cases against corrupt officials were dismissed in the past 2 years. Whereas, some poor offenders here are jailed, humiliated, or worse just shot dead.

The "Rulers" of our country will celebrate Christmas in their mansions while the cries of middle class, the poor people are just ignored.

I just hope our leaders remember what Christmas is all about and do their best to become servant leaders...

:)

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 07, 2018:

Though not in poverty I can relate to this Paul. We do tend to go out of our way to impress at Christmas, through the food we buy especially or through presents we buy. We usually start to stock up buying non-perishable food items and presents throughout the year so we don’t have a big expense at Christmas.

Poverty is a terrible problem and with the wealth in the world no man, woman, or child should be in poverty. It is the unfair distribution of this wealth that is the problem. Some simply have too much.

Very good article and poem. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas this year.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on December 07, 2018:

Poverty isn't a real issue. It is created by world leaders as millions of tonnes of good foods are dumped each year. God bless the hungry.

Ryan Paul S Balagtas (author) from Philippines on December 07, 2018:

Thanks Mark. It's not just beauty in nature that inspires art but also the desire to change something questionable in our society.

Mark Tulin from Ventura, California on December 07, 2018:

Love the detail and compassion in this poem. Mark