April 29, 2009

Reality check

Yesterday, Jacob and Per Stromsjo asked why it was necessary for homes in Metro Manila to have privacy walls: are they for privacy, robbers, or both? The answer, of course, is both. I'll explain the privacy aspect some other time when I have a photo that can best illustrate it. Let's just say that it's a reaction against certain Filipino cultural traits. However, this photo will explain why there is a fear of robbery, whether in the home or while walking in the streets, even in broad daylight, and why houses have privacy walls and subdivisions have guarded gates. It also explains why Filipinos tend to carry their backpacks in front, turning them into chestpacks, even when they're traveling abroad. No excuses, no opinions, no solutions—just the facts. According to the 2006 Poverty Statistics report (the latest currently available) of the Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board, 32.9% of Filipinos are poor. Who are the poor? "Those that cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their basic needs of food, health, education, housing and other amenities of life." According to the same report, 14.6% are "subsistence poor" which means that they cannot even afford "basic food needs, which satisfies the nutritional requirements for economically necessary and socially desirable physical activities." So what are you seeing in the photo? In the foreground is the open parking lot of an upscale mall and the fancy roof of its connecting escalator and path. The wide, white expanse is the paved lot of some demolished building which is being used as a parking lot for trucks and cement mixers. And just beyond the concrete, a sprawling poor community squatting on government land. However painful it is to admit, I don't think there is any barangay in Metro Manila that doesn't have an urban poor community, whether they're 'informal settlers' or not. Yesterday, Boise Diva also wished for us that privacy walls will become unneeded. I wish the same but it will take a lot of hard work and much, much better men and women in our government than we currently have. But I haven't given up hope.

large urban poor community beside an upscale mall

24 comments:

Pam said...

There is always cause for Hope, Hilda and people like yourself spreading the word that all is not as it appears to be in pictures.
Thanks for educating us in the world around you, it is most enlighting and important for all the people of the world to understand one another.

Lois said...

We should never give up hope! Thank you for reminding us that all people are not as fortunate as some.

Halcyon said...

Wow! This reminds me of the favela you can find in the major cities of Brazil. I too hope that someday the riches of the world will become more evenly distributed. Not only in Manila, but everywhere. Thanks for showing us this slice of life.

Olivier said...

ne rêvons pas, il y aura toujours des différence énormes, et il y aura toujours des murs et des barricades. Déjà il existe des quartiers fermés avec des gardiens........;o(
let us not dream, there will always be difference of huge, and there will always be walls and barricades. Already there are quarters closed with security guards in ........;o(

James said...

This is why I like visit your blog. Interesting info and great photos. I've come to the conclusion that governments are necessary evils and less is more.

Cezar and Léia said...

Sad situation, but it's reality in many big cities.
Léia

lunarossa said...

I agree with Halcyon, this is not only in Manila, you can find a sort of "baraccopoli" (shanty town)even on the outskirts of Rome! Unfortunately in the current economic situation I cannot foresee any improvement...Ciao. A.

Abe Lincoln said...

In an ideal world, there would be no poor people period, that or there would be a population of poor period and no other class. Or it could be well-to-do people and all of them that way. The most primitive tribes and the people here we call, "Indians," or the correct term these days, "Native Americans," had no poor people among them. If there was somebody without then a neighbor would make sure they ate, had fuel, and enough hides for their needs. Seems to me that was an ideal culture. I think it is the same all over the world. There are those who have and there are many more who don't. It says something about the society when one man can made hundreds of millions of dollars in wages each year and half of the city he lives in is on food stamps and assisted living. I think your country is just like all the other so-called civilizations when it comes to haves and have-nots.

Don and Krise said...

Boy! A picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you for the well worded explanation Hilda.

Jackie said...

Yes, every city has its poor areas, Glasgow is no exception, particularly in the east of the city. This is a very evocative photo, Hilda, thanks.

Coşkun said...

Hilda,
I completly join you but do not give up hope. If born the sun there is hope.

Marc said...

A picture like this says a lot about your society and many others in the world. It's sad that it has to be this way. Unfortunatley I don't think it's going to change anytime soon, on the contrary. All one can do is to contribute as an individual as best one can to try to create a fairer world. This is a very interesting post, which makes people think. Thanks for posting Hilda.

Lisa Wilson said...

Seems we have a shortage of optimists these days in the US about our own economy, but I do hope things can improve in your country! When I visited Hollywood, we didn't drive up to the sign because there is a large homeless population living in the woods directly behind that sign. Whether they are choosing to live that way or not, it is still sad, and there is a much larger percentage of homeless where you are.

Mo said...

Oh so true. Can we start with writing off the debt of the 3rd world. A paper number that results in unnecessary pverty.

Jarart said...

Thank you for this lesson. You are a wonderful teacher. The picture is quite good and eye opening.

bfarr said...

Never give up hope. Where would be if explorers never made it out of their home ports. I really like your photo and speaks volumes about the state of the world. How can we in good conscience ignore those that need our help.

Joy said...

The great economic divide in the Philippines is so painful, and this is something that I believe caring Pinoys are trying to rectify. Indeed hope lives.

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come back tomorrow!


joy
A Pinay In EnglandYour Love CoachI, Woman

Jacob said...

Such is life for millions, not only in the Philippines, but around the world.

So sad.

While I don't think crime can be blamed only on poverty and deprivation, those things certainly play an important role.

Governments, unfortunately, find it easier to beat up the poor or put them in prison than to help lift them up from poverty.

In the U.S. today, we have many people in many cities living in their cars in parking lots -- the new homeless, many of which just last year had a job and owned a home.

Thanks for an important and incisive post.

George said...

A picture like this is worth more than a thousand words. Thanks for the information and the reminder of how much we have yet to do to eliminate abject poverty.

That is the chicken said...

How do we change this? I work with immigrants here in Canada and the stories I hear on a daily basis break my heart.

Reena said...

did you know hilda that i study urban planning at UP now? anyway, whenever we discuss these kind of things, it stresses me. hehehe...

but honestly whenever we try to look for the roots of the problem to informal settlers, it all boils down to mismanagement of resources, corruption by the government and lack of concern for the general welfare of everyone. and it's not just the government's fault but everyone else's as well. our responsibility as citizens is keep those in position up on their toes. :)

i also still hope.

the donG said...

the country badly needs honest and good leaders. not money and power hungry politicians.

Priyanka Khot said...

It is sad... but i guess the situation across most Asian nations is similar.

Even in Indian metropolitan cities, malls, high-rise buildings, posh sectors and slum sprawls go hand in hand.

With terror threats looming safety from petty pocket pickers has receded to the back of our minds, i guess.

With General Elections taking place in the country... most of the Young India is going out to vote... which is a good thing!

lisasarsfield said...

I wonder if walls are about privacy or about hiding from what we don't like to see? Thought provoking post, thanks for your honesty!