Stories of Robert and Manny

Stories of Robert and Manny
By Jaime Pilapil

Robert goes to an elementary school from Monday to Friday in Quezon City . He is not a teacher. He goes there with fish and rice directly after a visit to a nearby public market. The principal allows Robert to use a corner of the school where he cooks lunch for at least 40 kids.

Robert, only 29 years old, believes that by feeding these poor kids in the school will force them to stay and complete their elementary schooling. He has been doing this for seven years right after he completed college. Some 20 kids already graduated from his “lunch class” last year.

He has no problem with funding as the fish and rice are donations from stall owners of the market.

All he has to do is to go around the stalls and collect the food stuff. Vendors eagerly wait for their turn to donate fish or rice.

Sadly, this story is not true.

This fiction came to my mind after realizing that presidential candidate Manny Villar’s multi-billion infomercials are depicting the Philippines as a country of squatters and vagabonds.

The truth is those living in squatter areas are not really poor. Go around and you will be surprised to see airconditioned rooms. Some are even for rent.

Poverty is all over the world. Even in New York and Washington you will see poor people promenading.

Yesterday, National Anti-Poverty Commission head Domingo Panganiban said some 1 million families are receiving monthly cash grants, free healthcare and basic services.

Malacanang Spokesman Ricardo Saludo added that government workers will launch in two-week time caravans reaching out to the poorest of the poor nationwide.

Panganiban said the poorest of the poor is scattered across 644 towns, 58 cities in 80 provinces.

If I were Villar, instead of capitalizing on the poor people in his presidential bid, he should instead explain his programs in making sure that those who could not afford lunch will go to school.

He should explain how a poor elementary graduate can continue his high school studies. He should explain how a poor high school graduate who can not afford a jeepney ride can attend college in a nearby town.

Seeing poverty is one thing, solving it is another.

Which need is immediate should be given quick attention. This is public service. In old times, this is called charity. If you will notice, those who are honored as saints were practically the people who feed the hungry, educate the youth and heal the sick. The best way to cure the soul is through the stomach and the mind.

Don’t be deceived my infomercials. We voters should see beyond the ads of the politicians. Or else, we will end up blaming ourselves. -30-

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