eK! is electronic Kabalen (eksite.com), a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

titus toledo
image "We are encouraging people to eat their ballots."—The Edible Ballot Society

I MIGHT just come out and vote on May 14. I might just show up, line up, stand up, and be counted. I might just make that appointment with history. I might just join the rest of the nation in the exercise of its sacred duty.

Exercise. Duty. Big words. Big fighting words.

And here are even bigger fighting words to live by and die by: Progress. Service. Unity. Future.

And especially future.

The future of our children. The future of our children's children. The future of this nation. The future of the next generation.

And what about the future of the next generation?

Bright and promising, if you can believe it, considering that your babies and mine are now supposed to be the proud heirs of a Strong Republic.

Consider the following:
—The $12.4 billion net worth of the Philippine's 10 richest as of 2006 is equivalent to the combined annual income of the poorest 9.8 million Filipino families.

—While the income of the country's richest 10 percent is now 21 times as that of the country's poorest 10 percent, 80 percent of the population is still forced to subsist on less than $2 a day.

—Around 9.3 million families (or 57 percent of the total Philippine households) do not even meet the full dietary energy requirement.

—According to the January 2007 figures from the National Wages & Productivity Commission, a family of six in the National Capital Region needs at least P721 a day to meet its basic daily needs. Yet the nominal daily minimum wage in Metro Manila remains at P350— a gap of P371.

—While annual net borrowings rose from P175 billion in 2001 to P219.4 billion in 2005 and annual payments from P274 billion in 2001 to a staggering P679 billion in 2005, spending for social services has, however, declined over the past five years: Real spending per capita on education in 2006 is 22 percent lower compared to that in 2001; per capita spending on health has also fallen by 25 percent; and on social security, welfare, and employment, by 9 percent.

—In the first eleven months of 2006 alone, P784.4 billion was spent on public debt service, equivalent to 5 times the total combined spending on health and education.

—Between 2001 and 2005, the country's top 1,000 corporations posted an annual net income increase of 325 percent. Meanwhile in the countryside, 7 out of 10 farmers remain landless.

—Farm closures have now reached an unparalleled 9,900 farms per year while businesses and factories are closing down at a rate of 8 establishments per day.

—Human rights groups have recorded over 800 victims of political killings since 2001.

—Around 59 percent of our women are compelled to deliver their babies without proper medical help— no doctor, no nurse, no midwife, even.

—In this modern hi-tech age, 2 out of 10 Filipinos still do not have access to safe drinking water.

—Out of every 100 children who enter Grade 1, only 66 will finish elementary, 43 will at least make it to high school, but only 14 will graduate from college.

—Last year, some 2.5 million children, ages 5 to 17, had to work to augment their family's income. Of these, over three-fourths were forced to eke it out as laborers and unskilled workers in "psychologically and physically hazardous" conditions.

—Every Filipino (babies included) now owes the country's creditors some P9,015.

—It's official: According to the annual corruption survey conducted by the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy, the Strong Republic of the Philippines is now the #1 most corrupt country in the region.
They could be lying.

So much for the future.

And I am now reminded of a lovely passage from an old Leonard Cohen song: "I have seen the future, brother, and it is murder."


[About the author. Titus Toledo has published extensively in discord. As of this writing, he digs space weather, code art, semiotics, guerrilla gardening, and crispy begukan—in that order. He comes in peace.]

-Posted: 1:00 AM 5/10/07 | More of this author on eK!