Monday, February 08, 2016

Enclaves of wealth, ghettoes of poverty

Fifty percent of Filipino families judge themselves as poor are revealed by the “self-rated poverty” survey figures of the Social Weather Stations in December 2015. This means from a total population of 100 million, 50 million admit to being poor. The much-touted growth in gross national product merely reflects the galloping growth in the income of fictitious persons—known as corporations—and not real people and families. These corporations belong to a mere 1 percent of population.

If you don't ever see poverty, you can convince yourself it doesn't exist. Within half a kilometer from any affluent house in Metro Manila, there is a squatter colony where people live in miserable conditions. This is generally true no matter how upper-class and exclusive one’s residential subdivision is, give or take a few exceptions.

The upper class stay in their manicured landscaped gated communities, driving along roads lined with prosperous businesses, cocooning themselves in the air-conditioned offices. At the weekend they visit the make-believe world of shopping malls, and at home become glued to the fantasy world of television. They live, work, and play in pockets of comfort insulated from the compacted communities of poverty around them without the inconvenience of trespassing upon the dens of squalor of their poor neighbors. But no matter how much the rich isolate their lives from the lives of the poor, pretending that they do not exist, they affect the lives of the privileged in so many crucial ways, nor will the poor go away.

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