Life’s Paradox I

Along Howmart Road, you can see a family living in a shack joined to an unknown building's concrete enclosure. The head of the family is a tricycle driver, the wife unemployed and can be seen selling cigarettes or halo-halo now that summer has set in. They have nine kids including the unborn. The wife is pregnant again.

I have long been passing the road and I always see them especially the kids. There was this little boy who happened to be their son that caught my attention. He doesn't have anything to protect his body. He is nude roaming the streets, barefooted. I was sort of attracted to him, not that he is good looking but because despite the condition, he seemed to be a jolly boy, playful and unmindful of the situation. Papsie told me once that he is thankful I am not conceiving because our unborn child might resemble the looks of the boy (from an old myth) which to him is not cute as I always tell him.

I wonder how they live. Seeing the shanty, it can barely hold four people, to my calculation. They take a bath outside the shanty and also do the laundry there. I see the 'cute' boy, with mucus oozing in and out of his nose, eating whatever every morning. It can be a biscuit, a piece of bread, or junk foods. I wonder how he will be when he grows up. The oldest of the brood is already a tricycle driver. It was plain that they do not go to school. The boy next to the eldest roamed the streets and looks like a siga (a bully) (he was barefooted until he is in his teens). One of the boys is a canteen helper at the tricycle station. The only girl, which looks like twelve to thirteen years old, with disheveled hair, and untidy clothes, can also be seen along the streets.

It is hard to feel empathy to the parents of these physically and emotionally abused children. How can they be so selfish not thinking about the future and welfare of the kids? Is it ignorance? Is it nonchalance thinking that they can cope with anything hard life has to offer? I am not being judgmental here but they could have been more responsible. They could have borne fewer children, or better, only one child, or much better, not have children at all.

And here are capable parents who wanted to have kids or more kids but cannot have them anymore because of some health reasons or physical incapacity. They should be the ones having those many kids and yet they suffer unfortunate consequences of not having children or more children.

What a paradox.

27 thoughts on “Life’s Paradox I

  1. It's not just ignorance, Bing. It's also stupidity… because in their view, having many children means security in their twilight years. Pretty much 18th century mentality….

    The bad news is, our population is increasing at a staggering rate… no thanks to the Catholic church who is against all forms of birth control. And also to those undeserving parents who breed like rabbits…

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  2. yes, they breed like rabbits, single! and you know what, the father has cocks (panabong) around his house. imagine, to be taking care of those, kaagaw pa ang mga panabong sa food and expenses ng mga bata. they dont care at all.

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  3. Not so long ago (pre-WWII) families in Europe were also very large. Then came prosperity and people would find big families too expensive. A TV set, a car and a house was a much better choice then having a lot of children. Europe is now facing a greying population with not enough children. Who will take care of the elderly in the future…??? Who will pay for the growing needs of the elderly…???

    Children are the only “wealth” of the poor. As soon as people get financially better the number of children decreases automatically.
    Of course it doesn't help that the Church (and the government which need the support of the Church) is against birth control. Add the lack of education and you have what you described in your entry.

    With prosperity, the birth rate will go down. But before prosperity can begin, the Philippines will need to put its act together and CHANGE!

    I don't blame the poor, I blame the educated, the rich and the powerful. They are the people who can make the difference…

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  4. Children are the only “wealth” of the poor. As soon as people get financially better the number of children decreases automatically. for me, sidney how can they be the 'wealth', if they are not taken care of? how will the children, when they become adult, think of their parents, when they were like abandoned figuratively? with the situation, and thinking of the children as the wealth and future of the family, isnt it too selfish?

    i think the bottom line here is everybody, rich and poor, have to work to prosper (akin to what you said as 'act together'). it isnt fair for the educated, the rich and the powerful, to be working alone single-handedly about the problem, and one way is population control. of course, the educated, the rich and the powerful have the bigger roles but they cannot do it alone.

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  5. I also knew a family who lived like that when I was still in Manila. It's really sad. I think illiteracy can be the root cause. And since the children seem to be out of school, they might be headed in the same direction as their parents. tsk tsk.

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  6. The children CAN be considered as 'wealth', provided that the parental unit can properly invest in their childrens future…

    The problem with the less fortunate in this country is that they conveniently blame their woes on the educated, and the so-called 'rich'. As if they were the ones responsible for bringing those street children into this world.

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  7. This reminds me of an African docu about a couple who were planning to bear twenty children. Asked why, they answered because they knew more than half will die due to poverty/illness and they wanted to be left with at least 5 to keep them company until their death. How selfish and irresponsible, no?

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  8. hi, irene! illiteracy is one cause. there are a lot of people like them. and it seems they are increasing day by day.

    i agree with you, single. i remember one post that is like this one in Sa Aming WIka. one comment said that it seemed that me utang na loob ang iba sa kanila(some others are indebted ot them).

    that is very selfish and irresponsible, nico.

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  9. “i think the bottom line here is everybody, rich and poor, have to work to prosper, it isnt fair for the educated, the rich and the powerful, to be working alone single-handedly about the problem”

    I know rich people who pay their maid 1,000 pesos a month. Is this fair?
    How much do a tricycle driver earns? A pedicap driver? A construction worker? A security guard?
    You don't go very far with a minimum wage…

    I really pitty those guys selling water bottles, handkerchiefs, cigarettes, candies along the roads. They are working hard but don't earn much for their work…

    Many people want to work but there are not enough jobs. Can we put the blame on the jobless…

    I know that life is unfair. Some of us are born in prominent and rich families while others are born in slums.
    This is fate and we can't blame anybody but I am convinced that a society fails when the majority of its members are dirt poor and all the riches are hold by a small minority.

    I pay heavy taxes in Belgium. I don't like it but on the other hand this is the price I need to pay so that my government can take care of the weaker elements of our society. It is not perfect system, but at least nobody dies because he has no money to pay for his doctor/medecines.

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  10. Actually it's ironic. Last time I went home I saw these very soiled children begging outside my taxis and I can't help but wonder what the bloody hell did their parents were doing to let them be like this.
    I am a parent and I know I'm willing to die for my child because I love him so much, and will do anything to amke him well and have a better life… and seeing people breed like rabbits bloody way beyond their capabilities and can't be responsible for it makes my teeth grit.

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  11. hi, monmon. until these days, ignorance plays a big role in the poor situation of many. but still, it does not excuse anyone. somehow somewhere couples will know that there is something wrong having many children, particularly when they go hungry. if they are responsible enough, they will be curious on how to find a solution to the growing number of their children.

    it is not very fair to be receiving only P1,000 a month. and there are really those kinds of people who take advantage of the poor and the weak. but with the poor, how will one think of having children with that wage? it cannot even feed a single soul.

    i get your point about some educated, rich and powerful people. admittedly, they don't care. and if this is the situation, what should the poor do? they have to do something, too, and should not let the reason of being poor be the reason to do irresponsible things like having many children. it is pointless blaming them but it is also pointless blaming other people about one's situation. if the poor dont have resources, they should think of ways to uplift their standard of living.

    i have known some poor people, sidney, who just waited for others to help them, or begged others to give them money without working for it. and it is not fair. you cannot just tell other people that you are poor because they dont help if you dont help yourself.

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  12. It all boils down to one thing: RESPONSIBILITY. If you can bring life into this world, you better make damn sure that you will be able to feed, clothe, and put a roof over its head. Did those living in the squatters ever thought about that?

    It isn't fair to blame the educated for the plight of the poor in this country, most of them (the educated) belong to the ever dwindling middle class. They worked hard for their money and whatever possesions they have were acquired through diligence and perseverence. AND are also feeling the economic pinch btw.

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  13. i take pity for the little children, rey. they are exploited in more ways than many. i remember once when we were at a gasoline station, two girls approached the car and begged for money. my husband asked them if they wanted to go and live with us and the poor little kids declined. we asked where their parents are, thinking they might be working very hard, too, but they pointed to a location where their mothers were just sitting and picking on each other's hair. i felt mad because the little girls were to work while their moms are having a good time.

    exactly, single. this post is about the responsibility of parents not about the poor. this is about little children neglected and irresponsibly borne to this cruel world by uncaring people.

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  14. Hi just wanted to say hi and thanks for visiting my blog.

    It sounds quite sad. Sex may be the only entertainment the parents can afford. It seems true for a lot of people among the poor all over the world. Even here in the states where the housing projects have large families packed into small flats.

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  15. yeah i agree with simple american…

    it happens everytime… and it is also in our culture…

    you see, during the feudalistic times here in the philippines while haciendas were still prolific, pinoy farmers wanted to have more children, especially sons, to help the parents to do the labor (distribution of labor… a simple strategy for the survival of the species)…

    now, this culture changed into hopes that someday one of the children will finish his studies and finally help the family to live for a more prosperous life…

    plus… we, as asians, have strong family ties… the more the merrier…

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  16. hi, simple american, my pleasure.

    i can accept that. no form of entertainment. probably the best reason why they breed like rabbits.

    ha ha that's amusing, monmon but i doubt if they can still be merry when their stomachs grumble for food.

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  17. as for me, wala akong issue sa panganganak nila ng isang milyon. ang may issue ako ay ang pagpupumilit nilang isiksik ang sarili nila sa metro manila. mas gaganda buhay nila sa probinsiya at mas magiging productive sila. kaysa naman nakatira sila sa isang mumunting lungga, mamuhay na lang sila sa probinsiya. hay!

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  18. hi, babypink! that is another thing. pareho kayo ng opinyon ni Papsie. para sa kanya, mas magandang nasa probinsya sila at kelangan lang magsipag. hanggang ngayon yata ay may pag-iisip pa ang mga nasa probinsya na may ginto sa Metro Manila. pero hindi kaya talaga rin namang mahirap ang sitwasyon sa probinsya?

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  19. This looks to me like the viscious cycle that is plaguing our society nowadays, our people keep on repeating the mistakes of the past generation, and many wallow in squalor and hunger because of this. Maybe, our government should start really focusing on these problems.

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  20. the government should have the major role in educating or reeducating the citizenry about family planning, responsible parenthood, etc. but it seems that solution to population explosion is not one of the priorities of the present government, major tom.

    stupidity, foolishness.. maybe. but i see it more like irresponsibility, SEL.

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  21. It's kinda perplexing indeed. I know a couple who both were working and weren't thinking of having kids and enjoying travel and having fun. THe husband lost his job and became jobless for almost a year and the woman got pregnant! Another buddy I know went for an operation and was on medical leave for 6 months and the wife got pregnant! Does being idle have to do something with it? Most poor folks dont have work and are idle!

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  22. I think it's also the popular “bahala na attitude” amongst Filipinos that propels some people to overlook the possible dire consequences of their actions.

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  23. sorry for not being able to update as often, nico. many reasons, the space wont allow he he 😉

    i think it makes sense, bw. with nothing to preoccupy, sex is most likely where the attention goes.

    very right, too, eric.

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