• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Poverty dehumanizes.  It strips a person of his/her humanity or whatever qualities inherent to one who has been created in the image or likeness of God. It further alienates a person from his/her nature as a holistic being, reducing  work not as a means of developing potentials but to eke out a living just to survive. It is as if the world has become a jungle where the name of the game is the survival of the fittest.

Poverty should have no place in a country oozing with ecological wealth, Don’t you know that in just 5,000-hectare Mt. Kitangland, the number of flora and fauna is far greater in number compared to those found in one billion-hectare continent of North America. Beneath the ground are 72 kind of minerals such as gold, silver, copper and what have you, the richest on earth. But the wealth does not just end at the shorelines as the Philippine Archipelago has been described by the UN-FAO as the “Center of the center of marine life on earth.”

In the frenzied pace to extricate themselves from the bondage of poverty, a great number of the population has sort of jumped-off from what has been described as a “sinking ship” willing to accept whatever job there is in other countries.

To those who could not qualify abroad, they must contend with the meager income. Always hopeful to change their dismal fate, an increasing number resorts in squeezing some amount to indulge in lotteries. For those who have the stamina for long queuing, they would opt to try their luck on noon-time shows before the coronavirus pandemic.  For the desperate?  Well, the answer is in the increasing crime rate against properties.

This pitiful scenario should not be allowed to continue any longer for the simple reason that poverty has no place in an ecologically abundant country, especially in resource-rich Mindanao.  We must now attack the root cause of poverty which is, the disempowerment and social exclusion of the people as the economy is just controlled by 200 families.  The new face of colonialism what is called neo-colonialism has put a few in control.  Indeed, “if a few oligarchs have much too much and the many who are poor have much too little, we may find our country in a situation horrible even to contemplate,” to quote the former CDA Chairman, Hon. Roberto Pagdanganan.

To debunk the culture of poverty, the people must now harness their collective spirit and their inherent capabilities.  If powerlessness is the culprit, then empowerment is the solution.

People empowerment is easier said than done.  It behooves the raising of social consciousness on the prevailing socio-economic-political realities and   the workings of oppressive structures and why they are such. It calls for a legal and peaceful action to defeat the lethal combination of apathy and greed. No to armed struggle. No to violent extremism!

Most importantly, it has become imperative to advance a collectivist counter-culture that awakens the people.  The time is ripe.   People’s participation is the condition sine qua non  to effect social change. Without people’s participation, all the outpourings of development programs will just be palliatives and cannot be the real solution to combat poverty.

That collectivist counter culture is the answer to break monopolies and cartels in a country to unfetter the economy and the media from oligarchical control Indeed, the mainstream media is committing misfeasance by giving us barrage of fake/wrong information or nonfeasance by intentionally not telling us the truth, i.e. climate change & elitist strangled-hold as these multi-billion outlets are owned by the oligarchs.   It is the path to unfetter those in the margins to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes. It is the vehicle to erase social exclusion and to replace it with democratic processes to give credence to that constitutional mandate that “sovereignty lies with the people and all powers emanate from them.”

That collectivist counter-culture goes by the name of mutual aid societies or simply cooperatives.  In its truest sense, cooperativism means social transformation based on the principles of social justice, equity and sustainable development. It relies on the inherent power of the people to craft their own destiny by exercising that God-given right of decision making – an exercise of intellect and free-will, qualities that qualify a person as one created in the likeness of God.

Above all, it empowers the people by putting power where it rightfully belongs, which is, to the communities.  Indeed, the people united will never be defeated, even by dehumanizing poverty. (El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido!)

For those who have dreamt, struggled, sacrificed and even died for it, social transformation has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of Martial Law and two people-powered revolutions. The systems and structures breeding poverty are still as formidable as ever.  But not anymore under the Present Dispensation. No less than His Excellency President Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte has stated during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) to stop the oligarchical control especially on water and electricity which are means to life. The more than eleven million five hundred thousand cooperative members with a critical mass of some 60 million Filipinos salute His Excellency for that amazing statement.  We are with you our Beloved President!