I usually roam around the blogosphere to read interesting articles and also make some relevant comments to get link juices for this blog for improving its rankings. Then I stumbled upon one blog post titled the happiest countries in the world. I was feeling excited with the title expecting to see my beloved country making it to the list. I remember sometime that I have read or watched a news telling that the Philippines is one of the happiest nation on this planet. But unfortunately, I did not see the word Philippines in the list – majority of the countries there are from Europe. I told myself that perhaps, this article is a mistake. So I scroll down to the comment section and tried to make my comment, suggesting the inclusion of our country in the top 10.
When I was scrolling down to the comment section, I noticed that there are already lots of comments in that story. That was a foreign site, but there are already Filipinos who have made comments in there, saying that the Philippines should have been in the list. But another commentator (a foreigner) objected that how could the Filipinos become happy if they are poor? Another Filipino also answered that though we are poor, we can still manage to laugh.
I couldn’t agree with the foreign commentator because for me, being poor doesn’t mean we cannot be happy. But I also couldn’t agree with the response of the Filipino commentator that laughing means happiness. For me, happiness is not express through laughing, but it is express through peace, joy and contentment. Anyway, the mean reason why I’m telling this story is that it proves that the Philippines is already known in the world us a poor country and Filipinos as poor people, as commented by the foreign reader on that site. This is the reality that I want to end on this land. So I have always tried to find the answers on how to end and avoid poverty in the Philippines. Join me in uncovering the solutions to this long-reigning problem in the land where we were born.
What is poverty?
In order to overcome poverty, we should first define and understand what it is. Poverty has many definitions depending on the views of the one who is defining it. So the following are definitions of poverty from Worldbank, the United Nations and my own definition.
“Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.”
“Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.”
“Poverty is the lack of principles, attitudes, values, actions and habits to become rich.”
Hmmm, it seems that my definition is the shortest of them all. As defined by the two global organizations, poverty may be the lack of money and the ability to afford basic human needs, such as nutrition, health care, education, clothing, shelter and clean water. It can also be defined as the inability to access justice, security and opportunity to life betterment. But since I am a fundamentalist and spiritualist, I prefer to define poverty as the lack of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, actions and way of life to become rich. Now let’s go the root of poverty to further understand what we want to stop here.
What are the causes of poverty in the Philippines?
There are many reasons why poverty exists and linger in the Philippines. So let’s try to discuss some of the most common candidates responsible for making the Filipinos poor. Later on we will try to dig for the root of poverty here in our country. The following things have been allegedly attributed to poverty in the Philippines:
2. Low internal revenue collection
3. High expenditure through the pork barrel by political leaders
4. Corruption committed by political leaders
5. Poor investment climate
6. Natural disasters
7. War, terrorism and peace problems
8. High unemployment rate
9. Poor health
10. Abuse of natural resources
11. Poor quality of education
12. Lack of financial literacy
13. Most Filipinos don’t have entrepreneurial minds
14. Lack of government support to small entrepreneurs
15. Laziness and procrastination
17. Lack of self-control
18. Lack of love for God
The list above can be the reasons of poverty in the Philippines, but we need to find out the main root to effectively and permanently eradicate poverty in our land. Make a guess, so what do you think among the list is the main root of our poverty? And the answer is… none of them. They are all fruits of something that is deeper. Here are the reasons why.
Overpopulation is the fruit of the lack of self-control.
Low revenue collection is a result of an ineffective taxing system.
Pork barrel is the output of a poor political system.
Corruption is a fruit of greed.
Poor investment climate is the consequence of inefficient regulatory, legal and political framework of doing business in the Philippines.
Natural disasters are acts of God. For the consumption of those who don’t believe God, these disasters are acts of natural randomness. Moreover, some of these disasters arise from the human destruction of our environment. Nevertheless, natural disasters are not the significant causes of poverty in the Philippines.
War, terrorism and peace problems are the effect of misunderstanding.
Unemployment is the fruit of poverty itself. It is also the effect of laziness and lack of resourcefulness.
Poor health is another consequence of the lack of self-control, discipline and poverty itself.
Abuse of our environment is another fruit of greed.
Poor quality education is another consequence of poverty itself. It is also the fruit of the lack of patience, resourcefulness and hard work.
Low financial literacy rate is the consequence of the lack of government programs to enhance financial education in the Philippines.
Lack of Filipino entrepreneurs is caused by the inability of the government to provide financial grants to small, new and aspiring entrepreneurs. This is also the result of the lack of patience and willingness of people to face business risks despite of the unlimited opportunities offered by entrepreneurship.
Lack of government support for small entrepreneurs is just another result of poor national governance.
Laziness and procrastination are results of the lack of value and interest.
Dependence is the consequence of the absence of self-trust and confidence.
Lack of self-control is the fruit of evil, or may I say the absence of love.
Lack of love for God is caused by not knowing God.
So what is the main cause of poverty in the Philippines? What is the main root behind all of those reasons above? The main root of poverty in our nation is the “lack of fear of God”. Someone might object, but the Filipinos are God-fearing people, religious and prayerful? Really? If Filipinos are God-fearing, then why there are many corrupt political leaders in the country, and why the votes of the mass people are bought for money? Why there are many Filipinos who are drunkards and smokers, when God instructed us to have self-control. Why there are many Filipinos who are lazy and dependent, when God told us to be diligent and become a servant. If most Filipinos are religious then why there are many greedy and selfish people in this country? Yes, most of the Filipino people pray and ask to God, but are they listening and reflecting on the words of God? Most of us only ask, but not listen and follow what God has said. If all Filipinos are God-fearing, they will obey God commands. They will become diligent, patient, generous, selfless, kind, wise and loving. Don’t you know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?
How to stop poverty in the Philippines?
So how to end poverty in our country? Can we dictate the Philippine islands to have fear in God? Should we go to the streets and shout night and day to the Malacañang Palace they need to become God-fearing? Or shall we teach ourselves to have fear in God? The Philippines are made of Filipinos. Hence, if we want to end poverty in the Philippines, we need to end poverty in all the Filipinos. And who is the nearest Filipino from you? Isn’t it yourself? Therefore, to end poverty in our country, we must start ending our own poverty – we must start to have fear in God within ourselves.
Now, what will fear in God cause us? Will it make us slaves and take away our freedom? The answer is that it will make us slaves and free at the same time. The fear of the Lord will make us slaves of diligence, wisdom, righteousness, kindness, self-control, patience and love. However, it will also make us free from indolence, foolishness, deceit, selfishness, lack of self-control, impatience and hatred. In other words, it will cause us to make God our Master, while rejecting the evil. If all the Filipinos have fear in God, they will obey God’s commands. God commanded us to be patient, honest, diligent, humble, knowledgeable, wise and understanding – all of these will overcome our poverty and will give us riches in life.
If all our workers are diligent, if all our political leaders are honest, if all the voters are wise, if all the business owners are not greedy, and if all the spiritual leaders are selfless who teach the right religion, then we might be living in a rich country. All of these could happen if we truly have fear in God, and if we really God love by following His commandments.
Going back to the definition I shared, which says poverty is “the lack of principles, attitudes, values, actions and habits to become rich”, the fear of the Lord will give us wisdom which are made of powerful principles. These principles will give us the light to guide us in making the right decisions in life towards development. When we made the right decisions, we make the right actions that will make our lives better. And when we practice those actions consistently, those become our habits shape our lives to long-term development, personally, spiritually and financially.