Saturday, February 14, 2015


Filipino or native food restaurants are fewer. In  fact they are beginning to disappear. They have been taken over by fast food chains. 

Working people are always in a hurry. They would not sit down in a Filipino restaurant, order food and wait.   They do not seem to have the time. 

Besides they might have found Filipino food messy. A lunch or dinner needs soup and at least two viands. The dining table is messed up with a plate, a bowl of soup and a plate of viands and spoon and fork. 

Filipino restaurant owners must have long noticed that their patrons are always in a hurry. 

But in a fast food outlet, they would   fall in line carrying a small tray, get   their food,   pay at the other end of the counter, take a seat   at a small table and then take off.  

The ease — not necessarily comfort — of picking up a sandwich or a burger in a chain —makes fast food a multi-billion business. In fact, most of them — notably Jollibee —issue franchises that cost tens of millions of pesos. There are two hamburger joints in the two barrios near mine. They make good business. 

The hurry to go to work is the same reason young single professionals either rent or buy studio type condominiums. If they work in say, Fort Bonifacio and live   in Quezon City, the drive or commute  frays their nerves. They lose time. They spend more fuel. They feel fagged out, physically battered by traffic gridlocks by the time they reach their places of work.. Renting or buying a condominium within  walking distance to their offices makes their lives easier.  They can wake up as late as 7 in the morning, spruce up a bit, drop by a fast food chain and walk lazily to work.

The rush to go to work by skipping meals at home living near places of work may be considered signs of progress. However, this daily scene is marred by a multitude of beggars young and old roaming the streets pan in hand begging for food. 

This shows nothing less than the deep divisions between the rich and the poor. Since no economy in the world has ever been able to feed a bloated population, least of all educate them and provide health care in spite of statistics or indicators indicating progress the hope of the country for sustained growth does not seem to be easily attainable. 

We talk of growth as shown in official statistics showing low interest rates,  a booming stock market, historically high level of gross international reserves, state of the art information technology, gaming and gaming cum tourism. 

None of these provide food to the table of the great unwashed. Their multiplication has not been checked. There are too many of them for the state to take care of. 

The state is scared of the Church and is way of implementing  the Reproductive Health Law. The average national birth rate is still only slightly below 2 percent and as high as 3 to 5 percent in blighted areas.

In a manner of speaking, we are walking as fast as we can just to stay in place. 

In fact we may be taking two steps forward and three steps back. Yet we are awed by the proliferation of condominiums which do not seem to run out of demand but we have not done much to clothe the   poor and house them. 

The worsening lot of the poor betrays all claims of growth. The poor hardly feel; the effects of growth available to those who already live in relative comfort. We cannot seem to see the negative impact of too many people competing for scarce resources. 

In this sense the city in a hurry as indicated by expanding fast food chains is a façade that covers the face of poverty. 

We even hid from the eyes of Pope Francis a very large number of child beggars and brought them to a resort where they were fed good food and slept in real rooms. We are ashamed of them but we encourage their multiplication. 

The government could not completely hide from Pope Francis the real face of poverty among children. He saw enough of them. 

He had a briefing in the Vatican before he paid a state and pastoral visit to the Philippines. 

He demanded that we stop multiplying like rabbits. His heart bleeds from the sight of the gripping poverty he saw. He did not see all of them. Yet he cautioned against the use of contraceptives as a means to control or prevent conception. 

I interpret his contradicting statements to mean we must do what is proper to stop the multiplication of people like rabbits. No one in government least of all the Catholic hierarchy seems to seriously consider the import of the statement of Pope Francis. 

He must have seen how the high and high middle classes of society arc growing at a faster clip. The number of the poor is multiplying even faster. 

The working class or those who have jobs are in a hurry to work. The poor are in a hurry to beg. 

There is very little effort to close the gap between the rich and the poor. The effort is wrong as they come in subsidies that at best breed laziness and higher dependence on the state. 

The Bible says don’t give fish to a hungry man. Teach him how to fish. We have not learned much from the Bible. The politicians stop the process. 

In fact they do not even try. They want to keep the poor under their perpetual spell for the votes they deliver for a kilo of rice or for a few pesos in direct bribes at election time. 


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