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2018 — OUR YOUNG, AND OUR POOR



By Carlos A. Arnaldo
Manila
January 9, 2018

 
 


In all our history, no elected government of the Philippines has ever really faced the challenge of creating an inclusive economic growth, an economic plan na walang naiwanan!

Our people are still poor. Every day I receive calls for help.  Binugbog ako ng asawa ko at ninakaw niya yung pera para sa binyag ng anak.  Di kami makabayad ng tricycle namin, tatlong buwan na, at kukunin na yung tricycle—papano kami mamumuhay?  Di ko kaya ang upa, paalisin ako.  Tulog kami noong naraid ng pulis, lahat naaresto, at kahit hindi ako nagdrugs, nadamay ako.

These are all real cases and they are only a few droplets in the ocean of millions of other half of our people, many with even more severe hardships.

I am deeply gratified by the desire of many of our young kids to study and get educated, at least high school level. They sincerely believe that with education they can seek better jobs and more rewarding work. 

One 3rd year college student in business management works 6 AM to 3 PM at McDonald’s to pay her schooling. She then goes to class 4 PM to 10 PM every day. And yet in McDonald’s one only sweeps, cleans tables, works as cashier at the counter, but even after so many years is ineligible for supervisor position.

But many students, a number parentless and on their own, still have a hard time earning pocket money for pamasahe and baon.  One student wakes at 4 AM and walks from Makati to Greenhills to practice badminton as she is on the school varsity. She then walks back to Makati to catch  classes at 9 am and walks home at 4 PM hopefully to find a snack or merienda at home. This is her routine three days a week. But no baon, no pamasahe.

These are the stories of 2017. Hopefully, 2018 can be different.

Can barangays for example, some with ample tax collections, provide a small fund for baon and pamasahe of serious, successful high school students? One small provincial city in the Visayas offers 1000 pesos in cash for book purchases for those certified by their schools as top 30 %.

Barangays could also offer noontime canteen services for elementary schools.

We also need short term care centers for unwed teen-age mothers, a problem widespread in many squatter areas of large cities. This should include three-month pre-natal care and counseling in cooperation with public and private clinics and hospitals.  The centers should also offer a baby kit of diapers, newborn sandos, kumot, booties and bonnet, baby oil and cotton, etc. Or the existing centres might be strengthened with government assistance or discounts for purchases.

Since its beginning in 1992, SPES, acronym  for Special Program for the Employment of Students, has helped many poor students and out of school youth. The program should be strengthened and extended. Registration needs to be simplified.  I know some students who were given temporary work in prestigious companies for very generous earnings! Even so I am very pleased to see several SPES students working as trainees in McDonald’s. In other words, these originally simple ideas can work!

My view for 2018? 

Hopefully our elected leaders at the barangay and municipal level can contribute to helping our young and our poor be more included in their economic programs.

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