Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

Slumdog Millionaire wins 8 Oscars

February 23, 2009

On Febrary 22, 2009, the drama movie “Slumdog Millionaire” carted away the most number of recognitions in the Oscars awards—8 winnings including the Best Movie award from the academy.

Held at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre for the 7th year, the glittery event of tinseltown attended by movie stars and celebrities, honored the visibly elated British director Daniel Doyle and the cast of his winning film which included Dev Patel, Freida Pinto and Anil Kapoor, all first-time actor-nominees in the Oscar. Other actors in the movie were children plucked from the dirt-poor slums in Mumbai, India to be among the cast-members brought to Hollywood for the awarding ceremony

Of the 10 nominations the movie dominated the awards by garnering prizes in eight categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song.

During the screening on August 2008 at Telluride Film Festival, Slumdog Millionaire generated interest and appreciation from those who first saw the film. It was well-received by viewers at the Toronto International Film Festival. With popularity rising, on January 2009, the movie was screened nationwide in the United States. According to reports, as of February 18, 2009, the film has raked in a bonanza of $89,316,895 at box office in the North America.

Timely as the reality of the current global economic meltdown, the film depicts the race of impoverished people to win in India’s rags to riches version of “Who wants to be a millionaire.” Though well-acclaimed by movie enthusiasts and scribes, the film has drawn criticisms and protests for propagating the Western stereotype of poverty and the negativities that go with the depiction of slums in a poor country. (Photo Credit: Mirchiaish; AP/ Matt Sayles) =0=

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Journalist killings continue

December 9, 2008

The death toll of journalists being killed in the Philippines continues to rise. On the early hours of December 9, 2008, Muriel Leanilo, a tabloid columnist of “Bagong Balita” was slain by an unidentified gunman who walked away from the site of the crime in Aurora, Boulevard, Quezon City. The motive of the killing wasn’t known.

Following the shooting death of another journalist less than a month ago, Leanilo was rushed at Quirino Memorial Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival. His companion, Christina Valldolid, was seriously hurt. A taxi driver who saw the murder said the assailant walked away after the incident.

Cold-blooded slaughter has been a common occurrence in the Philippines. The administration of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo appears helpless in stopping the crimes which earn bad reputation for the country. Apologists of the government can’t say that the unsatisfactory national human rights and freedom records are “perceptions” only. There is an obvious lack of justice. Unhalted murders suggest political instability which may worsen in time. (Photo Credit: Campino Castillejo)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “RP’s 2008 Press Freedom Rank: 142nd out of 173 nations,” Posted by mesiamd at 10/26/2008; “Deteriorating Human Rights Record: another journalist shot dead in Camarines Sur,” posted by mesiamd at 08/16/08.)

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The “paradoxical” faces of hunger: obesity and emaciation

November 18, 2008


A report shows the United States is beset with hunger problem just like the poor countries of the world. The US Department of Agriculture reports that 50% more American children compared to the previous year suffered hunger in 2007. Other findings are:

“_Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007 (above the 430,000 in 2006.) About one in eight Americans (12.5%) struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year’s sharp economic downtown.

_The families with the highest rates of food insecurity were headed by single mothers (30.2 percent), black households (22.2 percent), Hispanic households (20.1 percent), and households with incomes below the official poverty line (37.7 percent).

_States with families reporting the highest prevalence of food insecurity during
2005-2007 were Mississippi (17.4 percent), New Mexico (15 percent), Texas (14.8 percent) and Arkansas (14.4 percent.)

_The highest growth in food insecurity over the last 9 years came in Alaska and Iowa, both of which saw a 3.7 percent increase in families who struggled to eat adequately or had substantial food disruptions.)”—Associated Press; Yahoo.news.com (11/17/08, Sniffen, MJ)

What constitutes hunger for Americans is a bit unsettled compared to those who endure apparent lack of food in other countries. Although the definition of hunger isn’t clear, it is appalling that the richest country on earth is reported to suffer hunger like the Philippines, one among the top five world nations which deals with lack of food.

Understanding food deprivation in USA is hard given the tremendous resources the nation has. Many of its “hungry” people are obese and are within arms way from government welfare services which are meager or almost non-existent in the Third World. Sixty-five (65%) of the Americans suffer from excessive weight; among them are those who complain of hunger. Paradoxically, even the overweights experience hunger. Fat people are seen quite regularly lining up in welfare offices, food stamp lines, social service agencies, and soup kitchens.

It seems hunger looks differently in USA than in other places that most people know. In the Third World, the hungry are usually underweight and emaciated—- the usual signs of malnutrition from pervasive lack of food and high incidence of diseases. Each day the poor struggle to eat, mostly subsisting on skimpy food devoid of essential nutrients which explains their thinness. The social milieu in which they live shows food scarcity—-unlike in USA where faulty food distribution is the problem.

Where food supply is abundant and readily available, obesity is traced to poor eating habits. Inadequate knowledge on nutrition, lack of exercise, and alternating over-eating and undisciplined binging are leading reasons for their excessive weight. Concurrent illnesses and the influence of genes are blamed for some forms of obesity, but almost all emaciated people suffer from lack of food and/or concomitant diseases.

So there’s the clue why people who go hungry can’t be easily recognized by their appearances. It’s interesting to know how many among the obese complain of hunger in America while in the rest of the world, the hungry are physically wasting away. It’s sobering to think how Americans could suffer hunger in the midst of plenty. (Photo Credits: Calvaryslo; MioCade; ClaudeBarute; ItuDk) =0=

RELATED BLOG: ‘Hunger in the Philippines” Posted by mesiamd at 11/05/2008

Hunger in the Philippines

November 5, 2008

Listed in decreasing order of countries with hunger problem, the Philippines (40%) ranked 5th with Cameroon (55%,) Pakistan (53%,) Nigeria (48%,) Peru (42%,) topping the list. For lack of food, 4 out of 10 households (40%) or about 35 million Filipinos face hunger. The finding is worse but consistent with Manila’s Social Weather Stations poll (SWS) showing that the average hunger for 2008 is about 16.8%.

Regardless of the surveys’ accuracy what is important is to recognize the need to solve the worsening poverty, malnutrition, and food deprivation in the country. Bulacan Bishop Jose Oliveros of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said:

Granted the survey holds true, the government should make concrete pro-poor programs to make sure every household gets enough nutritious food to feed their family” GMA TV News (11/05/08)

Oliveros blame corruption, not overpopulation as the main cause of rampant hunger. It is most severe in Metro Manila where 500,000 families suffer lack of food. He asks the government to put up programs like providing employment to the poor so that “ramdam ang gutom” reverses into “ramdam ang kaunlaran.” (Photo Credit: Jaridaking) =0=

Tomb Dwellers of Manila

October 31, 2008

They have lost fear for the ethereal white lady in lavender lace who appears mysteriously under the full moon’s shadow behind the cemetery’s concrete-covered coffins. The cryptic presence of the black cat and the howls of hungry mongrels in the mausoleum aren’t bothersome anymore. In the pitch darkness of the night, the eerie stillness is friendlier in the cemetery than before.

It has been a hushed reality that for years, there are people who live in the cemetery. Grave diggers, sextons and caretakers of tombs may be allowed housing in the vicinity, but in some burial sites in Manila, a throng of people have found their residence among the dead. On All Saint’s day, the tomb dwellers merge with the crowd, paying tribute to the dead.

Two years ago, in Manila North Cemetery, about 6,000 men, women and children reside with the dead. The number keeps growing as the destitute convert the burial ground into a living space, disturbing the resting place of the dead. The poor seems to have no choice.

As of last count, those who sleep, eat, and bathe inside the cemetery have ballooned to more than 10,000. For generations, the government seems tolerant, ignoring the ugly and hapless sight away from the consciousness of the public.

Like the problem of exploding squatters living close to the railroad tracks, poor people who share living space with the dead pose a dilemma to urban planners, health workers, and sanitation engineers. Standard plumbing, water supply, sewer system and regular electric supply aren’t available. However embarrassing, it is clear the government has to do something to put an end to the dangerous environment which the public doesn’t approve.

Arrivals from the provinces unable to afford the high cost of housing are forced to seek a patch of squalid space in the cemetery as they seek jobs in the metropolis of 12 million. In the burial grounds, the thieves, gamblers, drug addicts and homeless roam as the housing shortage worsen.

There is a basketball court nearby. Children play on dirty alleys. They sometimes hold on human ribs and broken skull bones away from the sight of their parents. Smell of stinky effluent and garbage sometimes fill the air. Peddlers have set up stores to make the place a surreal shopping ground. Understandably, the living must not make the cemetery their home. =0=

(Photo Credits: dsrito; Bahag; dsrito; hywell; elmernocheseda)

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Terrorism, economic meltdown and other problems facing Americans and the world

September 24, 2008

There is a lulling effect of media’s downplay of other important problems affecting Americans. As an example, in a Gallup poll taken in March 2008, only 2% worry about terrorism—as though it’s a problem of the past.

This is partly an effect of liberal media’s dismissal that those who are bothered by terrorism are essentially “war mongerers” and “alarmists.” Many media people are averse to paying the high cost of security to a point of misleading the public. They ignore that enemies determined to harm us take their time and they wait. There are those who believe diplomacy is often effective and terrorists and Al Qaeda can be appeased in the name of friendship.

The hard reality is terrorism only needs one occasion to succeed. And terrorists are determined and clever. They pulled through in 911 at the World Trade Center (WTC) and in the cowardly killings in Spain, Bali, Kenya, Pakistan, UK, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Philippines, and in other parts of the world. Being friendly with terrorists is therefore a risky business.

The problem issues that citizens (with changing and short attention spans) have grown. But would you believe, only 2% of Americans as of March 2008 Gallup Poll thinks terrorism is a problem?

The new economic woes in Wall Street divert the nation’s attention away from other equally significant problems. The world reacts the same way—finger-pointing on who is to blame after foolishly ignoring the danger signs of the economic meltdown before they blew in the people’s faces.

Reckless buying of houses that they couldn’t afford wasn’t a problem until the mortgage crisis took its toll. Many who were stuck to what they erroneously believed were gripped with panic. Denial, complacency and short memory proved to be dangerous to the security of these individuals, the nation, and the world.

The Most Important Problem(s) Facing America, March 2008

Economic Problems…………………….35%
Iraq War……………………………………21%
Health Care & Costs……………………8%
Fuel, Gas Costs………………………….8%
Immigration & Illegal Aliens……………6%
Jobs & Unemployment…………………..5%
Gov’t Corruption & Incompetence…..5%
Moral Decline………………………………4%
Education……………………………………4%
Inflation & Cost of Living………………..4%
Poverty & Hunger………………………….3%
National Security…………………………..2%
Terrorism…………………………………….2%

Source: Gallup Poll, March 2008/Fleeced (Morris, D; McGann E; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2008, pp. 46-47.) Photo Credit: Mario Zuccal. =0=

Charitable work by the poor, the rich and famous

September 16, 2008


Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are indeed so lucky. By being their handsome selves, as celebrities, they can earn millions. Their jobs may be as taxing as the regular workers, but their big earnings are assured. For charity like the $2 million they give to the Ethiopian children affected with AIDS and tuberculosis, they must be honored and appreciated.

Ethiopia ranks seventh among the world’s nations with the highest rate of tuberculosis. About1.7 million Ethiopians are infected with HIV, according to the World Health Organization (WHO.) Because of AIDS, up to a million children in Ethiopia have lost their parents.

The money will be used to create a center for AIDS and tuberculosis-affected children in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and to help establish a program) program to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis,” in a statement by the Global Health Committee (GHC) on September 15, 2008.” AFP/Inquirer (09/16/08).


The remarkable deeds of Angelina and Brad who raise 6 children (3 are adopted,) must serve as inspirations to poor people as well. Even without money, persons who want to help society can partake of their time, energy, and ideas which can benefit the unfortunate in our midst.

In this week’s Time magazine (Sept. 22, 2008,) there is an article on ways to help the Americans. They aren’t exactly applicable to Filipinos, but from the basic principles, some insights can be learned and a course of action can be pursued. Charity doesn’t always need money.

Twelve Money-wise Ways to Help the Philippines

1. Join groups that advocate honesty, transparency, and eradication of corruption in government. People with similar political, social, and religious convictions give strength to a cause and help unify the nation. Movements like Kaya Natin, Kawad Kalinga, and Philippine Red Cross inspire hope and action rather than despair and inaction.
2. Visit places to learn from other’s way of life. Being with Mindanao Muslims for instance promotes understanding of socio-cultural beliefs and religion.
3. Don’t be idle at retirement. Working beyond retirement i.e. volunteering in church, schools, hospitals and prisons have dividends for the community. A 50-year old retiree has about 25 years more time to be productive.
4. Encourage public service in a barangay. Civics help strengthen the nation.
5. Be a Santa Claus beyond Christmas. Generous giving beyond families, relatives, and friends foster compassion.
6. Be active in PTAs and school activities. Volunteer to mentor a child. Education is an asset that’s usually undervalued by children and their parents.
7. Set a day in a year to be with orphans, prisoners, disabled and the aged.
8. Incorporate your ideals into programs of action. People who render free service change lives and improve the communities they live in.
9. Take responsibility. Prepare for hard times rather than ignore them. Calamities like typhoons, fires, earthquakes, and even financial bankruptcies are occurrences that need preparation.
10. Elect honest leaders in government. You must learn from past politics which has brought indolence, mediocrity, thievery, and incompetence in government.
11. Follow the law.
12. Plant a tree; help build a community garden, and support the environment. =0=

“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”—by Rev. Fulton J. Sheen

Life on the railway tracks & the fate of Isadora Duncan

September 12, 2008

It’s the same accident that happened to 50 year old famed American dancer Isadora Duncan who met her gruesome death when her scarf was caught in a car’s wheel while motoring on September 14, 1927 in Nice, France. (Isadora Duncan, The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed., 2008)

Miss Duncan was choked by the constricting grip of a hand-painted scarf, a gift by Russian-born artist Roman Chatov. She who lived against the norm of her day claimed a place in history for her dance as much as her manner of passing.

In the Philippines, in a report which appeared in GMANewsTV on September 12, 2008, 22 year old Pandacan resident Imee Sapacio suffered serious brain injuries and almost died when her umbrella got entangled by a passing train on the way to Tutuban station in Divisoria, an old section of Manila.

She was knocked down, dragged and rendered unconscious before being rushed to the hospital.

Luckily she survived.

Life on the Railway Track (Vida en la via del ferrocarril)

“Marami ang palatandaan ng kahirapan: mga lumang bahay,
maduming barrio, mga lalaking walang kamiseta,
at ang tingin ng pag-aalala…”

“Dakul an senales kan pagti’os, mga lumang harong,
ma-ating lugar, mga lalaking mayong kamiseta,
sagkod hiling nin pag’hadit…”

Muchas signos de pobreza: casas viejas,
pueblos sucios,hombres descamisados
y la mirada de angustia…”

“Many signs of poverty: old houses,
dirty villages, unshirted men,
and the look of anguish…
.”
—AFM, September 12, 2008

Imee may not like the life of poverty like Miss Duncan especially in a crowded blighted path of a train which snakes its way in the heart of the city. But it’s a perilous reality that she hardly can escape. Like thousands of squatters, she lives near the railroad tracks, ignoring the dangers of the squalid neighborhood and the noise of passing trains.

In spite of the government attempts to relocate the squatters, crowding continues. A fact of life, this is a big challenge in urban places like Manila which attract settlers from towns and provinces in search for better life. Photo Credits: olr2004; UPA; dy85duTpa; 3bp.blogspot; Maluche,A)

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A plastic bottle for a shoe

August 29, 2008

When was the last time we heard this? I mean, the story of a guy who complained of not having a pair of Nike shoes until he saw someone so poor that he crafted a shoe out of a discarded plastic water bottles…a barefooted man, or an amputee who doesn’t have feet so he can walk? Many times, images like these knock at our senses and make us numb. Be kind and generous, says a friend who sent me this in an email.

World Poverty at a Glance:

Region ——————–Population in $1/day poverty (millions)
East Asia & Pacific———–170.0
Latin America —————-47.0
& Caribbean
South Asia——————–456.0
Sub-Saharan Africa———-309.0
Total Devel’g Countries—–982.0 million

Europe & Central Asia ——–1.0
Middle East N. Africa———4.0

Total—————————987 million
Source: http://web.worldbank.org/

The causes of poverty include poor people’s lack of resources, an extremely unequal income distribution in the world and within specific countries, conflict, and hunger itself. As of 2008 (2004 statistics), the World Bank has estimated that there were an estimated 982 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1 a day or less (World Bank, Understanding Poverty, Chen 2004). This compares to the FAO estimate of 850 million undernourished people.

Extreme poverty remains an alarming problem in the world’s developing regions, despite the advances made in the 1990s till now, which reduced “dollar a day” poverty from (an estimated) 1.23 billion people to 982 million in 2004, a reduction of 20 percent over the period. Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people in extreme poverty has increased.” Source: http://www.worldhunger.org.=0=