As for those of us who stood by in silence and apathy as this catastrophe slowly took shape over the past dozen years—on what page of history do we find our proper place? Only the most insensible can escape these questions.

Responsibility for community building and good governance can be viewed as gradations. At the top, the very first having the most intense shade, is government. The wealthy and the educated come next.

Considering that 10% – the wealthy elite – essentially controls the Philippines, this group is a major force as catalysts and leaders of significant change. Unfortunately, their view of and response, in general, toward the plight of Philippine society today tends toward charity. Something they act on in their free time in luxurious venues consuming sumptuous food. But what this country is riddled with is persistence of poverty and deprivations – sociopolitical and economic – that charity cannot address. Charity work is preferred because it is convenient. It is not too much dirty work. Just give a beggar PHP50 so you can move on and feel less guilty. But more likely than not that beggar will still be a beggar even after having received the donation or gift, whatever you want to call the amount.

The fact that Metro Manila is perennially a gates of hell is a reflection of the extent of citizenship of the wealthy in the Metro. Where are they when the larger community needs them most? When one word from them, collectively, could move mountains that will benefit the whole community? They are, unfortunately, cocooned within their gates of paradise, refusing to venture out into the “wilds” in order to cast their two cents’ worth.

The Pope has said it. Poverty and deprivations of freedom cannot be given the same casual importance as the weather. These have reached the point in which they have become blatantly offensive that if we still have some respect of ourselves as human beings, Filipinos, the demand is, more is expected from those who have more.

If the poor are silent, the wealthy silent, the educated silent… you and I understand why the picture is that.


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