The Poverty in the Bicol Region 3

Poverty may be relative. As I told my colleague sometime ago, the Bicol Region may be economically depressed. Infrastructure-wise, it may remain uncomparable to Metro Manila, or least Cebu, or Davao. But if you consider the satisfaction of the Bicolanos with their way of life, the Metro Manilans may even be far below.

In several instances, I noted in my socio-political surveys that the Bicolanos are happy with the way they live their life. From time to time, though, they would air their disdain for some local politicians, or agonize for lack of money. Even then, gusto pa giraray ninda an buhay-Bicolano. This is as opposed to a great number of respondents in Central Luzon or, in Southern Tagalog Region who claimed that given the opportunity, they would rather go to Manila or someplace else.

This, despite the fact that Regions 3 and 4 are economically advanced compared with Region 5? Why?

History has a great statement to tell. One, during the Spanish colonization, Franciscan missionaries were assigned to the Bicol Region. These missionaries are known to have a vow of poverty so it is most likely that they are the ones who influenced more on the ability of the locales to accept what they are and endure some forms of pain and suffering (i.e., rapado kan mga kalamidad arog kan putok kan bulkan asin mga bagyo).

Second, these missionaries did not clearly advocate nor even aid in the accumulation of wealth as opposed to the Dominicans who, intentionally or otherwise, became instruments in the accumulation of large tracts of lands. When ownership of these lands were given to a selected few, an economic change is thereby effected. Kun maurag an administrador kan mga daga lalong minayaman (in general terms) an lugar. Halimbawa, dahil consolidated an kontrol kan daga sa nagkakapirang kamot, madali an pagdesisyon kun ano an puwedeng gibuhon digdi. Puwedeng i-implementar an industrial agriculture, puwedeng i-convert sa housing, etc., etc. Arog sa Hacienda Luisita sa Tarlac. Siring man, mas may poder na magdikta an tagsadiri kan presyo sa mga produkto niya dahil an kawaran o presensiya kan produksiyon niya magkakaigwa ki dakulang impact sa barakalan sa mercado. Ehemplo digdi an sugarcane industry sa Negros.
Pero kun watak-watak an mga tagsadiri kan mga daga, kanya-kanyang kayod an mga ini. Bahala an mga tagsadiri kun ano an gusto nindang itanom, paanong klase ninda itatanom, asin nuarin ninda gustong itanom. The problem with this, magiging market dependent an mga paraomang yan. Dahil kulang ang poder para madiktaran an presyo kan mga produkto nagluluwas na garo lang sinda mga layag– tagasunod lang kun saen paduman an duros. Ini ngonyan an nangyayari sa mga Bicolano.

Siyempre, me negatibong epekto man an konsolidasyon asin limitadong kontrol kan mga daga. Aside from the lack of family-owned property, farmers have to beg the landowners to allow them to till the land. Ini an dahilan kun nata mas dakul man giraray an porsyento kan mga pobreng namamanwaan sa Region 3 & 4 kumpara sa Region 5. This situation, though, is being overshadowed by the fact na mas dakul an kwarta na nagdadalagan sa Central Luzon asin Southern Tagalog asin dahil dakul an nagdadalagan na kwarta, aktibo an ekonomiya. Halimbawa, dahil paid agricultural workers na an mga tawo, igwa sindang income na puwedeng magastos sa mga bagay-bagay arog kan bado, pagkaon asin maski an pagpapairahay kan saindang mga harong. (Dai kaya sinda puwedeng mag-absent dahil kakaltasan an mga sweldo ninda.) Siring man, nakakapag-crear na ki mga service-related occupations arog kan karpintero, barbero, etc. Masulpot na man an mga tindero, labandera, asin iba pa. Dahil makaskas an inaapod na monetary transfer, nagiging aktibo an ekonomiya, minadakula an mga buwis na naglalaog sa mga lokal na mga gobyerno, asin minadakul man an nagagastos para sa serbisyo-publiko.

Sa Bicol, dahil nakagapos an mga tawo sa kanya-kanyang oma, asin limitado lang an dalagan kan kwarta. Dahil siyempre sadit man an mga income, diit lang an minalaog sa kaban kan gobyerno. Thus, economically, minaluwas na talagang pobre an mga tawo.

Dahil sa konseptong ini nabilog an inaapod na self-rated poverty. In the Philippines, one of the institutions that conducts self-rated poverty surveys is the Social Weather Stations o SWS. Dai ninda hinihiling o hinahapot kun pira an income kan sarong indibidwal o kaya pamilya (as opposed to what the National Statistics Office or NSO is doing). An hapot kan SWS: Sa mga nakaaging bulan/aldaw, mas nagpobre ka ngonyan o mas nag-asenso ka? Kung baga, an “feeling” o “pagmati” an pinagbabasehan bako an income. Kung ini ngonyan an basehan, nagluluwas na comparatively lower an poverty rating kan mga Bicolano.

Paano ta ngonyan mapapatunayan na tama ini?

Igwa ki sarong Amerikanong psychologist an nagibo ki pag-aadal manungod sa mga pangangaipo kan tawo. An ngaran niya si Abraham Maslow asin an resulta kan pag-aadal niya inaapod na “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”. An sabi ni Maslow igwa ki lebelo an mga pangangaipo kan mga tawo. Sa pinakaibaba iyo an inaapod na “Biological na Physiological Needs” kun saen kabilang an pagkaon, istaran, sex, sleep, etc. Sa itaas kaini iyo an “Safety Needs” then, ang “Belongingness and Love Needs”, followed by “Esteem Needs”, and on the top, the “Self Actualization Needs”.

If we are going to follow the needs categorization by Maslow puwedeng sabihon na lagpas na an mga Bikolano sa lowest level of needs. Maski kaya tuyo lang an isira o kaya gulay, maogma na an kadaklan lalo na su mga nag-eerok sa rural areas. Mala ta an tinutungan na manok, ordinaryo na lang sainda. May mga kararawan ngani na ipinag-aagad pa ninda ini nin dispensa dahil wara sindang sardinas.

But more than this, Bicolanos are attuned to the arts — singing, dancing, painting, sculpting — which the individuals who still craving for food and shelter cannot even afford. Gustong sabihon, lagpas na sa basic needs an mga Bicolano kaya an konsentrasyon na ninda sa inaapod ng “Arts” ni Plato, sarong Griyegong parasurat, na “occupation for the people of higher status”.

Kun sabagay, an sarong tawong gutom, dai makonsentrar sa pag-bayle pero nata ta igwa sa Bicol kan inaapod na “Mr & Mrs” o sa Rinconada, “Biasan”? Nata ta may pantomina? Baraylehan? O kaya nata ta maski pauno, igwa ki mga Bikolano pa man giraray na nagtitiripon para lang mag-arambugan asin mag-arambagan kan saindang mga komposisyon maging kanta man yan o rawit-dawit? Siring man, yaon man an mga parasurat (an notableng si Ben Santos para sa short stories and Novels), painter (arog kay Gus Albur na bistado sa bilog na kinaban), singer (arog kay Nora Aunor)? An mga artista niyato arog kay Eddie Garcia, Dina Bonnevie, Anjo Yllana, an komedyanteng si Wally, asin dakul pang iba. Puwede ta man siguro idagdag sa listahan an Sili King na si Bert Gonzales na apuwera sa pagiging graphic artist kan mga comics, saro man na designer ki mga jeep. Puwede pang maghalaba an listahan pero an pinakasimple na lang, maglalakaw-lakaw lang kita, mahihiling an mga ini sa mga videoke-han sa mga kanto, sa irinuman sa gilid-gilid, asin iba pang lugar. If these “occupations of the people of higher status” are being done by Bicolanos, puwedeng sabihon na mayaman an Bicol. Bako nga lang sa termino kan income.

On my first trip to Pandan, Catanduanes, I’ve seen a number of women drinking liquor. I was told it was a lambanog or a fermented sap of nipa. Astonished, I asked my mentor, Prof. Alex De Guzman about the scene. His response: Nag-eenjoy lang sinda and that is a common sight here everytime there is a gathering of women.

If the people can even have the time to drink and be happy, then poverty may just be pure economy-based or income-based calculations. Could it be?

Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 1 Poverty in the Bicol Region Part 2

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8 thoughts on “The Poverty in the Bicol Region 3

  1. Was looking for Bikol developments today when I stumbled on this site and read your interesting interpretation of poverty sa Bikol, part 1 (maski na 2008).

    You say that despite economic poverty Bikol is “happy” and preferred Bikol life compared to other Filipinos from regions that were more or less economically progressive. Also,”If we are going to follow the needs categorization by Maslow puwedeng sabihon na lagpas na an mga Bikolano sa lowest level of needs. Maski kaya tuyo lang an isira o kaya gulay, maogma na an kadaklan lalo na su mga nag-eerok sa rural areas.” Thus, “If the people can even have the time to drink and be happy, then poverty may just be pure economy-based or income-based calculations. Could it be?”

    On the 1st, arog kan poverty, garo sa economics lang po an basis mo man kan happiness. Puede man na laid-back talaga an Bikol ta makusog an pamilya; makakan ka maski mayong trabaho ta yaon si magurang or relatives o ibang tawo, nagtatabang. Puede man–they don’t know any state better than this so . . . And individual accomplishment is different from the collective. an accomplishment kan saro sa ibang tawo magka-iba man an “levels” ta kun parareho — then si Raul Roco pareho an kalidad ni Nora Aunor. Asin an mga Bikolians, like other humans, love pleasure which is not a bad thing, but over spending to the point of debt or corruption for alcohol consumption, fiestas, beauty pageants, or for unhealthy habits are delusional or harmful and unwise. These unhealthy norms of pleasure are some manifestations of our inner poverty, mayaman man o pobre. Likewise on the 2nd, our economic station is, at most times, DO NOT evolve alike or at par with our moral, aesthetic, intellectual, etc. developments. (By the way, Maslow’s highest developmental need in the rung after self-actualization is transformational.) These simplified reasons would, I think, make me agree to your raised question (last paragraph). So that poverty must be addressed wholly, taking into consideration the internal (general or bigger culture) and external (social, institutions, technologies, economies, etc.) components, from matter-body to mind to spirit of the human and in relation to nature communities.

  2. I read your article. The things you have written are informative with all-time relevant. i am looking forward to its continuation. Many of us don’t know about this. Your post is helpful.

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