Broad Terms / Community / Cultural Lies / This Filipino Life

Poverty, Crime, Human Rights Abuses, and Possibly Slander

Warning: written in a bitter, angry mood. I mean everything, but normally I would use a more gentle tone.

 

If our society allows people to be ill-educated, and their morals corrupted from childhood – what else is to be concluded but that we first create criminals and then punish them?

– Danielle, Ever After (redacted from the original flowery English*)

Even when personal choices finally come into play, you’re still choosing within the framework of your genes, upbringing and environment – for example, you can choose between becoming a poet or programmer, but only because you were born into a world where other people already invented both poetry and computers. That means every part of your life, everything that you are and can become, is the result of things other people did in the past.

You benefit from the successes of society and you pay for its mistakes as if they were your own – whether you want to or not.

As evidenced by you being the one to read this on your gadget, instead of being the one who was driven to suicide while assembling it.

This is not abstract philosophy, this is not something you can choose to believe or not believe – this is a statement of physical fact. Refusing to acknowledge it will only leave you endlessly confused and frustrated.

Your life is not a story. It is one sentence in a much longer story – a sentence that doesn’t make any sense out of context. Understand that context, and you will understand your life.

– Jason Pargin for Cracked.com (redacted)

* * * * *

Ever since I nearly died, twice, at the hands (or pedals) of pedicab drivers, the relationship of poverty and crime has transformed from an intellectual curiosity to a matter of life and death for myself. Which is a pretty great motivator, I must say.

Anyway, I did talk to [redacted] about the incident. I called them evil because I was feeling dramatic, but he confirmed that they are factually evil. The conversation went like this:

[Redacted]: They’re criminals. Thieves, rapists, murderers.

Me: Jesus Christ! Why aren’t they in jail?

[Redacted]: Their victims won’t prosecute.

[This is because the legal system is mostly used as a delaying tactic for rich folks trying to screw each other over, so poor folks who can’t afford lawyers and time off from their jobs to appear in court as witnesses can’t use the legal system to bring criminals to justice.]

Me: Okay, why can’t they at least be regulated then? They don’t have any numbers or plates, so it’s impossible to apprehend one of them any other way except by dragging him to the precinct by the scruff of his neck.

[Redacted]: Well, Erap made them illegal during his term, so they can’t be regulated.

Me: But they’re there anyway!

[Redacted]: Well yeah, that’s the law.

So what I’ve got so far is that criminals are drawn to this type of work – pedicab-driving – because they have open cases against them and can’t get NBI clearances for any other jobs.

Clearly, nobody cares about poor people, so even if they’ve mowed down a street kid or two, (which I’m 100% sure they have) it hasn’t mattered; no one’s ever heard of it. But they nearly killed me twice, and Mommy and Daddy have a certain amount of power and influence. I could certainly pursue this issue; I have time on my hands and a considerable amount of hatred and fear to fuel my efforts… BUT – there’s dozens of them, possibly hundreds in Metro Manila – what’s going to happen if I miraculously succeed in getting the ban against them enforced? Hundreds of hardened criminals, no longer distracted by pedaling madly all day… would they turn to raping and pillaging again? These aren’t petty criminals, otherwise they’d be able to get their NBI clearances. They’re probably stone cold murderers.

I gotta put them somewhere. I told [redacted] yesterday that maybe I could send them to Disneyland.

We’re all caught in this horror-clusterfuck of a situation where everything we do screws somebody over.

When the people my age started getting driver’s licenses, a lot of them paid off the examiners. That was unfair. They did it because they have money. A pedicab driver tried to kill me. That was unfair. He did it because he didn’t have any money.

Do you see?

* * * * * *

I’ve been observing poor people. The social tier to which I belong hates, hates, hates these strange creatures. I do too, for the most part.

They listen to public radio a lot. Like, A LOT. I used to just wince and cringe inwardly whenever I had to tolerate it, in an FX or carinderia or whatever. But lately I decided to listen, really listen. This is the kind of conversation that their DJ’s feel free to have on air (translated):

DJ1: I once picked up a P100 bill in the hallway at school.

DJ2: What’d you do with it?

DJ1: Turned it in to the admin.

DJ2: What’d you do that for? Whoever lost it wouldn’t be able to track it down anyway. You should have kept it for yourself. No one would know you took it.

There’s also a Filipino word that poor people love to throw around: maarte. It has a very negative connotation. It basically means you’re a spoiled little bitch. It’s applied to people who refuse to subject themselves to abuse. Don’t want to asphyxiate in the dirt and heat of MRT rush hour? Maarte. Don’t want to eat food that you just saw flies have a dance party on? Maarte. Walk out on a boss who verbally humiliates you? Maarte.

It’s the consolation prize for the ones who never make it out of the shithole: Well, at least you’re not maarte.

There’s this mindset: You’re poor, therefore subject yourself to abuse from the rich.

Flip it over and read the obverse: When you’re rich, you have full social permission to abuse the poor.

What do you think they’d do if the tables turned?

In case rhetorical questions and/or hypotheticals aren’t your bag, look no further than Henry Sy and his famous rags-to-riches origin story. His family owns the SM corporation, which:

  1. has a record of alleged human rights violations
  2. a record of environmental abuses  and zoning laws violations 
  3. mostly hires only contractual employees, to avoid having to pay employee benefits
  4. situates their malls in areas to strategically kill smaller businesses and other malls
  5. has a progressive rent scheme for tenants that require them to pay additional rent according to their profits, on top of the monthly flat rate. The result is that most tenants in SM malls sell cheaply-made crap to keep expenses down, in order to turn a profit at all
  6. Their malls are constructed as cheaply as possible and therefore ugly as shit
  7. This fucking shirt 10686864_10154573238555361_628641101303190386_n

 

* * * * * *

I’ve also been watching their TV shows on the bus. Poor = virtuous; rich = evil, unless they’re about to rescue the protagonist from poverty, due to their desire to rub their genitals on the protagonist (who’s inexplicably beautiful for a poor person). Sure, there are days when you fall asleep hungry, you smell terrible because you can’t afford soap, you can’t afford medicine when you’re ill, you have to physically claw your unborn baby out of your vagina when somebody rapes you and you can’t get an abortion – but at least you’re not maarte and stuck-up like those horrible rich people! Fair deal, right?

 

*Scene:

Danielle (Cinderella) is arguing for the fates of convicted criminals about to be exiled. The exact quote is: “If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy – what else is to be concluded then, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?”

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