For Richer, For Poorer

Rich-poor divides (Photo credit: 12degreesoffreedom.blogspot)
Rich-poor divides (Photo credit: 12degreesoffreedom.blogspot)
Rich-poor divides (Photo credit: 12degreesoffreedom.blogspot)

Rico*, a friend of mine once told me, “Ganito ba talaga ang mahirap, lalo ba talagang pinapahirapan?!”

He always looks tired and exhausted. He is always sighing, as if it is the only way to release his disgust and resentment towards becoming the new planner at a factory where he is currently working.

He was actually an operator before but then he was transferred to the said position. And he doesn’t really like it that much. In fact, he loathed it! His salary doesn’t even reach the minimum wage rate! He is just 22 years old, and spends his spare time staring at his little daughter’s picture in his cell phone to get inspired for work. He is far away from home. That is why his wife, who is older than him, can’t help but be paranoid and suspicious about him all the time. He often complains about his wife’s unreasonable jealousy and paranoia. But he knows he has to keep his cool and be patient with his wife’s response to their situation. After all, he loves her very, very much.

Can you imagine that we are 7.1 billion people in the world- and maybe, counting? Reports from global states 80% of the population of the world “lives on less than $10 a day,” (which is equal to PHP449.00 in our country). This is actually true for my friend, Rico* who only gets his salary amounting to PHP390 each day, including overtime.

Going back, I actually rebuked his negative outlook. I told him that it is just a matter of attitude, “if you think you’re poor- you’re poor. And if you think you’re rich, – you’re rich.”

He just smirked.

Ah, that smirk had a meaning. I know that we both know that his case is more than just his “attitude problem.” He may or he may not have the right to complain, to be pessimistic or to be ungrateful. He can blame himself, or he can blame the government. However, at the end of the day- after all the moans and complaints- he can only do so much. He will go back to work, hoping that when he gets his salary, it will be enough to sustain his family’s basic needs. But with the ballooning price of commodities, he is just thinking wishfully.

This is just one of the billion pictures of poverty. Look closer and you will realize that exploitation and inequality is the culprit of poverty in our country. It is no doubt that corruption in our government also contributes to the miserable condition of the poor.

Two of the factors/causes of poverty are exploitation and inequality. On the other hand, We don’t realize how worse poverty is in some other countries. Everyday, about 21,000 children die around the world just because of poverty and poverty-related social issues such as hunger and diseases (Shah, 2011).


Though he is struggling so hard, you can still see the smile on Rico’s* face. I asked him, “Did you regret that you had a family at an early age?” He replied, “Oh, definitely not. When my daughter came into my life, suddenly my existence has a meaning and a purpose. I will work hard for my family. I love my wife. I love my cute daughter. I promise that when she grows up, she will be able to graduate in college, unlike me- I only finished high school.”

Poverty has been a major social problem in our country. And I believe it will not leave unless (1)exploitation over workers, (2)corruption and (3)inequality has been totally eradicated (or is it possible to eliminate these three completely?); and (4) government policies have been adjusted and improved in favor of the marginalized people. However, it will take a very long time for all of these to happen.

Nevertheless, I admire Rico* for not giving up in life. He’s exercising his agency to do something about his condition for the very least.

Maybe, it’s still a matter of attitude after all. And he’s obviously rich with the things that money can’t buy.

* not his real name


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