From a vantage point | Inquirer Opinion

From a vantage point

It not only helps but is truly necessary to be aware of the greater humanity beyond our shores. For the less fortunate with much fewer options than others, it may seem that life in a small circle is all they must concentrate on. It would also seem that other matters beyond their fears, their families, and their livelihood are largely irrelevant. I cannot blame them for a narrow perspective as their material lives are trapped within very limited boundaries.

The narrow view and understanding, however, is precisely the hole from which most of mankind had been trying to get out of for centuries. The primitive environment had kept most of humanity in darkness due to immobility and ignorance. Modernity had been the main goal and ambition. Anyone who has an idea what life was just 200 years ago can be astounded by the remarkable visible change that has occurred since then.


Here we are early in the 21st century, not exacyly a young species anymore. From our behavior, however, humanity is definitely nowhere near its maturity – with few exceptions, of course. On the whole, it is not wisdom that defines us, not even against ourselves in the measurable past. Sadly, wisdom remains elusive; we only have different levels of primitiveness.

What is happening in Africa, allegedly the cradle of human birth as far as archaeology and dating technology go? With its long history of human life, Africa does not seem a steady and inspiring model. How about Asia? Following the violent drama of human life in several countries, how modern are we in the way we think and behave?


Europe does not seem to be substantially different. It is not only Eastern Europe in the throes of suffering. Even its western counterpart as it faces little supply of gas and energy itself. Yet, they are furiously supplying war materials to a besieged Ukraine being bombarded by Russia. At the very least, their environment is precarious.

The Middle East – ah, how long has it been in turmoil and when will it ever rest? Not in the foreseeable future, of course. I mean, I do not think so, and reading or listening to others appears they do not think so either.

North America is not having a picnic either. The greatest country on earth used to be the United States – but for what reason? Definitely not because Americans are wise and intelligent, not if we watch them in Fox News and CNN create chasms of red and blue.

Let us not examine too closely its neighboring continent, South America, either. Less news is not good news because it means its foundation is already fragile. Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and others are not enjoying peace and prosperity but will need the coming Christmas season to pray precisely for that.

It seems that Australia is relatively unthreatened in a major way, and small internal disagreements and a pesky climate pattern would be its challenges. It seems that standing far from the rest of the world has helped it emerge as a model for stability. Its politicians only have to be friendlier and more cooperative with one another.

I believe the Philippines is a country in deep trouble. What is obvious is that the world is also in deep trouble. That is not an excuse for the mess we have made for ourselves, of course. But it is equally true that the mess of the world makes our mess even more terrible than it already is.

With over 20 years of involvement in anti-poverty and anti-hunger work within the greater sphere of community development advocacy, I may see the worst things from a personal and close-up view. I feel once too often that I cannot enjoy good news when my attention is on the pain of those in poverty. I know that there are daily sources of small victories that light up the lives of Filipinos and I must lean on them for my sustenance.


My angst centers on a personal wish, a necessary and doable possibility, that the marginalized and the hungry do not have to be so. It just needs a clear vision, a determined prioritization in their favor, and a political will backed up by a societal agreement that our nation and government take this commitment.

Our poverty is an inherited one, just like the feudalism imposed by foreign conquerors. We did have our own datu system from our history and culture, autocratic it may seem. Yet, that same type of governance was paternal and familial where the ruler was not a conqueror but a father, uncle, grandfather or granduncle. Feudalism from colonialism, though, made the governance of strangers cold, cruel, and utterly utilitarian. It succeeded in subjugating the people by using select native leaders to impose administration and neutralize community resentment.

That meant that the conquest of Filipinos by the Spanish, British, and Japanese involved the betrayal of some of our own native leaders. This betrayal is a cross we continue to carry, a curse that continues to strangulate us. It is not the greed and ambition of others that hurt the most, it is the betrayal of our own.

My exposure to international dynamics and a memory that has long been used to threading relevant people and events from history makes me conscious that others, too, find ways to put their foot in their mouths or shoot themselves in the foot. We are not alone and we must strive to learn from our mistakes and theirs.

I am not a troll or a blind partisan who only parrots the line of the employer. I have long accepted to co-exist with others who have different or contrasting viewpoints. For my own sanity and soulful purposes, though, I have chosen the paths I wish to follow and the values I want to live by. And if that means resisting trolls, bigots, mercenaries, and worst of all, the morons along the way, so be it.

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TAGS: Eastern Europe, Middle East, Poverty
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