The Meaning of Hermes and the new People Power
by: Harvey S. Keh
This afternoon I finally had the chance to visit the Hermes store at Greenbelt in Makati. I have always seen and heard about this brand of the rich and famous which made me wonder how much are these bags really worth. Upon checking, I was shocked to see that the prices of each bag ranged from a “low” of P 500,000 to as high of more than P 1,000,000. Wow! These bags actually cost more than your ordinary car with several months worth of gasoline (in spite of the high cost of gasoline these days). Yet for me, what is disturbing is the fact that these kinds of high-end luxury shops actually thrive here in a third world developing country where more than 23 million Filipinos continue to live in poverty. I say this because I don’t think the likes of Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci would dare to open their shops here if there wasn’t enough Filipinos who would go out of their way to buy their wares. I am not saying that owning these luxury brands is wrong but in a situation where many of our countrymen still experience involuntary hunger every single day, one should have the social conscience to strive to live a simple lifestyle. Perhaps, this is also the reason why many of us were disturbed when at the height of increasing prices of basic commodities, President Noynoy Aquino bought for himself a second-hand Porsche which many of us know costs several millions of pesos.
Hermes and Poverty
According to the latest National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Poverty Incidence Survey which was conducted in 2009, a family of five would need at least P 8,251 per month to live a decent life and to stay out of poverty. The price of a brand new Hermes bag can actually provide food, shelter and education to five poor families for a whole year! What is even more disturbing is the fact that many Filipinos don’t just own 1 Hermes bag but even up to 8 bags! While you have 12 year old girls who have to sell their young bodies to dirty dump truck drivers in Tondo for a measly P 300 just to be able to help bring food on their family’s table, their more affluent teenage counterparts hang out in bars every weekend wearing shoes and accessories worth thousands of pesos. This becomes all the more disturbing when we see children of some of our corrupt government officials who literally flaunt their latest Louis Vuitton bags or are seen riding their newly purchased Mercedes Benz sports car.
A detached middle and upper class
Many people who will get to read this will probably be upset by what I have written. Some will say, it’s their hard earned money so it’s their right on where they will spend it. Others will say, as long as I’m not hurting or disturbing anyone then people shouldn’t care about the luxury brands that I buy. Perhaps they are right and I am wrong but I believe that this kind of “detachment” from the reality of the kind of lives that millions of poor Filipinos live by my fellow well-educated middle to upper class members of our society has led us to where we are now. 25 years after the EDSA People Power Revolution and many Filipinos are still forced to go abroad just to be able to earn a decent living for their families. In the experience of many countries that have risen out of poverty, the middle to upper class has always played a very important role. Clearly, this is not the case here in the Philippines where many of us still leave our government to worry and solve our myriad of problems. Many of us try to temper our guilty conscience by taking part in occasional charity or gift-giving activities but sadly, as soon as we leave Payatas, we go back to the comforts of our own gated subdivisions, go about our normal routines and slowly but surely forget about the people there. Worse, some people just do it for show knowing that it will come out in the latest society and lifestyle pages of our newspapers. When we go to first world countries like Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Canada and the United States, we often ask ourselves when the Philippines will become like them. The President of Ateneo de Manila Univesity, Fr. Ben Nebres, S.J., has always reiterated that our country will only be able to move forward at the pace of its slowest members. This means that unless we are able to do our own share in helping our less privileged fellow Filipinos, our country will never be able to progress beyond the third world.
A new kind of People Power
This kind of situation calls for a change of heart and mindset for many of us. Instead of thinking of People Power as a one time, big time event that we commemorate every year. We should now begin to think of People Power as a way of life that we are called to live out each day. People Power brought freedom and democracy to our country in 1986 and it is also through genuine People Power especially from the more privileged class in our society that we will be able to free our country from poverty. This new way of life calls for us to be more aware of what is happening in our society and to become more sensitive to the needs of the other especially the poor. It is also a call for us to go beyond our usual comfort zones, stop making excuses, make small sacrifices and decide to regularly make time to share our talents and skills to help address our country’s social problems. Small things when done in a consistent basis will go a long way such as instead of buying another pair of shoes that you still don’t need, why not use the money to help buy a complete set of school supplies for several public school students? Instead of taking a trip to the beach every weekend, why not sacrifice a week or two every month so that you can take time to join a medical mission and use the funds to help provide life saving medicines to indigent patients? When each one of us decides to make these small sacrifices then we see this new kind of People Power emerging. This is the time as well when we will see that we are making headway in our fight against poverty.
In summary, what I am trying to say in this article is this new People Power asks for us not to turn a blind eye but to actually give a damn and care for the plight of our less-privileged Filipino brothers and sisters. It is a challenge for us to go beyond the typical lip service of saying that one loves the country yet s/he cannot even concretely show genuine love for its most marginalized people. It is a call to not stop at just complaining about all our country’s problems but to have a more conscious effort to become involved in nation-building. Finally, it is an even greater challenge for us to begin to change our own way of life so that it is no longer just centered to ourselves, our needs and our wants but rather, a life where we make a firm and lasting commitment that each day is another opportunity for us to do our own share in helping uplift the lives of others.
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“The EDSA Run” on Feb 27 harnesses People Power to build classrooms
Simultaneous running events being organized across the country
As the nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution this month, around 5,000 runners are expected to make a People Power display of another sort. They will burn calories over five and ten kilometers on Sunday, February 27, in “The EDSA Run: A People-Powered Run to Build Classrooms”.
In a show of solidarity, ten other cities and provinces across the country will be mounting simultaneous running events on Feb. 27 in pursuit of the same goal.
“We want to raise awareness about the severe classroom shortage in public schools and to help boost the private sector effort to address this problem in collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd),” explained Mr. Jamike Lopa of the iamninoy-iamcory Runners, a group which also supports the 57-75 educational reform agenda of the private sector. “We are inviting the public to join us in this fun run to raise funds for new classrooms. It’s our way of rekindling the spirit of People Power.”
DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro thanked the event organizers for giving ordinary Filipinos the opportunity to do their share in addressing the shortage of public school classrooms, which he estimated at 152,000. “That is the true spirit of People Power,” he said, noting that this would be much more meaningful than seeking the help of the top 100 corporations in the Philippines.
Mr. Jake de Guzman of the iamninoy-iamcory Runners said that, in light of the magnitude of the problem, what they hope to raise through The EDSA Run would just be “a drop in the bucket.” “But we hope that that drop will create a ripple effect that would eventually make a dent on the classroom backlog.” He likened their approach to that of a runner preparing for a 10k race. “At the start, 10k might seem so daunting,” he said. “But you just take it one step at a time. And as you see more runners by your side, you find the energy to carry on and reach your goal.”
According to Eric Imperio, president of eXtribe, the event organizer, The EDSA Run is just the first of many running events that his team hopes to organize as a means of helping address DepEd’s severe classroom shortage.
The EDSA Run will take place from 5:30 am to 8 am on Feb. 27 along a route that passes through White Plains Avenue, EDSA, Ortigas Avenue, Greenmeadows Avenue, E. Rodriguez Avenue (C5) and Temple Drive. Mini-billboards will be installed along the route to recount the events of Feb. 22-25, 1986.
Assembly and registration time is 5am, Feb.27, near the People Power Monument at the corner of EDSA and White Plains Ave. Registration fees are P400 for 5k runners and P550 for 10k runners.
Jumpstarting the fund-raising effort to boost public school classroom construction are Smart Communications, PLDT, Meralco and Metro Pacific Investments, major sponsors of The EDSA Run.
According to Mr. Lopa, those who want to participate in the run can pre-register and even pay via credit card online through www.iamninoyrunners.wordpress.com. They may also pre-register at the Rudy Project stores in Trinoma and Bonifacio High Street; Planet Sports branches in Virra Mall, Power Plant (Rockwell), Glorietta and Alabang Town Center, as well as the iamninoy-iamcory office on the fourth floor of the Jose Cojuangco & Sons building at the corner of Dela Rosa and Castro Streets in Legaspi Village, Makati.
Also pitching in to the classroom-building fund are minor event sponsors, Bench, Ayala Land, Maynilad, Powerade, Mizuno and LaFarge. Among the other corporate supporters of The EDSA Run are: Kenny Rogers Roasters, Air 21, the Electronic Yellow Pages (eyp.ph), Nestle Fitness, Robinson’s Galleria, Gardenia, ROX, Anchor Shape-up, Sustagen Premium, Planet Sports, the ABS-CBN News Center (ANC) and the Philippine Star.
Simultaneous runs in other cities
So far, Feb. 27 running events have been confirmed in Vigan, Ilocos Sur; Clark, Pampanga; Zambales; Legaspi; Albay; Cebu City; Davao City, Sultan Kudarat; Dipolog City; Zamboanga City; and Zamboanga Sibugay. The Vigan, Davao, Dipolog and Zamboanga City events are being organized in partnership with the city governments in these areas.
“We are happy that other cities are celebrating People Power in this fun but meaningful way,” Mr. Lopa said. “After all, People Power is a source of pride for Filipinos across the archipelago.”
For details, prospective run participants may get in touch with:
- Vigan, Ilocos Sur – Councilor Franz Ranches, City Government of Vigan (09069316263 / email@example.com)
- Clark, Pampanga – Mr. Manny So (0458882201 / 0458872694 / 0456259725 / 09164969801 / firstname.lastname@example.org) or any Orchids Bookstore branch in Angeles City and San Fernando City in Pampanga;
- Zambales – Norma Amata (09993998671 / 09066475240 / email@example.com)
- Albay, Bicol – Dr. Ofel Samar-Sy and Mr. Jason Offemaria (09209600076 / firstname.lastname@example.org);
- Cebu City – Yellow Movement of Cebu & Yellow Army Movement Youth Volunteers in partnership with Run for Sight Foundation (09237188171 / 0322562020 – Lalyn)
- Davao City – Mr. Blogie Robillo, Davao Sunday Runners Club in partnership with the Office of the Mayor of Davao City (09997563615 / email@example.com)
- Dipolog City – Mr. and Mrs. Lester and Haidee Ong, People Power Volunteer Center, Dipolog, in partnership with the City Government (0652129595 / 09177241614 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Sultan Kudarat – Mary Vi Castillo, Sultan Kudarat Active – Peoples Network, Inc. (09086650047 / email@example.com)
- Zamboanga City – Mr. Anton Lim, Fuerza Amarillo in partnership with the City Government (0629910226 / 09177102920 / firstname.lastname@example.org);
- Zamboanga Sibugay – Jun Policarpio, Consortium for the Development of Western Mindanao Communities, Inc. (09178659720 / email@example.com).
People Power sa Edukasyon
ni: Harvey S. Keh, Abante
Noong nakaraang linggo binuksan ng Acts of Hope for the Nation o AHON Foundation ang ika-37 nitong silid aklatan sa loob ng San Roque Elementary School sa Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. Ang AHON Foundation ay isang institusyong binuo ng Filway Marketing, Inc. upang magbigay tulong sa ating mga pampublikong mga paaralan sa pamamagitan ng pagsasa ayos ng mga silid aklatan. Sa ilang mga naging pagsusuri, wala pang 20% sa pampublikong mga eskwelahan sa ating bansa ang may maayos na silid aklatan kaya naman hindi na rin kataka-taka na marami pa rin sa ating mga kabataan ang hindi pa rin natututong magbasa kahit na nakakatapos sila ng Grade 6. Katuwang ng AHON Foundation ang mga guro at mga pinuno ng eskwelahan sa pamumuno ni Dr. Miranda. Ang masipag at magaling na punong bayan ng Cabiao na si Mayor Gloria Congco ang siyang nagdala sa AHON Foundation sa kanyang bayan at dahil dito ay mayroon nang mga bagong libro ang 400 batang nag-aaral doon.
Hindi basta-basta ibinibigay ng AHON Foundation ang mga libro nitong katumbas ang halagang P600,000 sa isang paaralan. Naniniwala ang AHON na bago nito tulu ngan ang isang paaralan ay dapat magtulung-tulong din ang mga guro, magulang at iba pang miyembro ng komunidad upang pagandahin ang kanilang silid aklatan. Sa ganitong paraan nasisiguro ng AHON na hindi pababayaan ang silid aklatan at ang mga librong ibibigay rito sapagkat lahat ng miyembro ng komunidad ay nagtulung-tulong para ayu sin ito. Alam naman nating lahat na mas pinapahalagahan natin ang mga bagay na ating pinaghihirapan. Sa San Roque, mismong ang kanilang punong gurong si Dr. Miranda pa ang namuno sa pagpapagawa ng mga bagong book shelves, lamesa at mga upuan para sa kanyang mga estudyante. Si Mayor Congco naman ay naglabas pa ng perso nal niyang pera para lamang makabili agad ng pinturang ginamit upang lalo pang pagandahin ang silid aklatan. Dahil sa tulungan ng bawat miyembro ng komunidad siguradong matututo nang magbasa ang mga anak ng Cabiao. Tunay ngang maraming mabubuti at magagandang bagay ang nangyayari kapag nagtulungan ang bawat Filipino para sa kaunlaran ng ating bayan. Ibang klaseng People Power na ang kailangan sa ating bayan, ito ay ang people power kung saan nagtutulungan ang bawat isa para sa mas maayos na kinabukasan para sa bawat Filipino.
Para sa inyong mga komento, mag-text sa 09199575444.
If there is one thing that I really miss right now, its all the activity and excitement that happened during the last elections. One just has to go his or her Facebook account to see how much people were so into the elections with people campaigning for their chosen candidates while sometimes even maligning their rivals. Some even went to the extent of creating fictitious Facebook accounts just to be able to use these accounts to attack their chosen candidate’s rivals, I know this for a fact since I got some nasty messages on my Facebook wall from obviously fictitious people.
Now that the smoke has cleared and President Noynoy Aquino is almost through with his first 2 months, many of us who went all out to campaign and support various candidates have now gone back to resuming our normal lives, business as usual so to speak. Yet, many of us tend to forget that the elections which always tends to be the more exciting part in governance is just the beginning of our quest for good governance and ethical leadership in our country. The greater challenge for us now is to not waste this new chance given to us to help shape a more effective, ethical and empowerimg government. We need to make sure that we continue to support, engage and hold our leaders accountable to their campaign promises and platforms.
Many of us complain about how corrupt the Arroyo administration was but unless we all do our own share in making our democracy work by consistently engaging our government institutions and leaders, our quest for a clean and honest government may yet end up in failure. Let us remember that if we don’t make them feel that we are watching them, many of our corrupt leaders are just waiting for their chance to once again grab power and go back to their usual ways of making government their own personal money making business. It is up to ordinary Filipinos like you and me to ensure that we slowly but surely weed out these corrupt leaders that have led our country to being the perennial cellar dwellers of Asia.
Last elections people power took the form of vote power, now, people power should move each one of us to ensuring that transparency, accountabilty and genuine reforms will be put in place in our government. Yes, the elections were exciting and the actual governing maybe the boring part but its the boring part which is actually more important and fundamental if we want our nation to finally move out of poverty towards a better life for every Filipino.
For those who are currently looking for ways to engage government and help promote good governance, we invite you to be a volunteer of Kaya Natin, you can read more about us at http://www.kayanatin.com . Join us on August 26, Thursday, 6pm to 730pm at Unit 300 Torres Bldg., Katipunan Ave., QC for a Kaya Natin briefing of interested volunteers. To confirm your attendance, you can call Inday at (02) 4341458 or you can text your complete name and contact information to 0919-9575444.