Achieving Happiness

November 12, 2007

Delayed responses

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:56 am

I tried three times to write about what I thought and how I felt about the suicide of 11-year old Marinneth Amper last week, but failed. It was just too sad, and it was just too horrible to dissect. What else is there to say – a child took her own life because she was overcome by despair she was even too young to understand or rationalize. Despair over how poverty made it impossible to be hopeful or happy; ridiculous to even consider dreaming.

She wanted new shoes and a bag. She wanted work for her parents. She wanted a bicycle. She wanted to not miss school anymore and to be able to continue studying. She wanted to live, but what kind of life did she had and could possibly have in the future given what then constituted her present?

She chose to die instead. I imagine her thinking, thinking and then breaking down in grief as she realizes in her young mind that poverty is not something that one easily deals with and that she, as a child, was still helpless against it. She must have thought how unfair the world was, how painful her short life had been, how terrible it was that her small dreams could never breathe and must be stifled by hunger and hopelessness.

Ano pa ba ang masasabi mo sa isyung ito? At kanino pa ba dapat isisi?

There are so many children like Marineth all over the country, poor and hungry, but within them wishing hard that they could do something to help themselves and their families. The streets are literally overrun by children begging for alms, some of them genuinely desperate to get enough money so they can go to school the next day (“Pambaon lang sa eskwela bukas, ate…” Ten year old boys sniff rugby to stave off sharp hunger pangs. Much younger children scavenge in garbage dumps for food and materials (old cans, reusable bags, paper) they can salvage and sell. Girls on the verge of puberty jump inside jeepneys, shocking passengers as they feign wiping and shining shoes in exchange for a few coins, and the they jump out regardless of the moving traffic.In the news today there’s a report about a 29-year old farmer who hung himself from a tree, also committing suicide out of desperation: he was too poor to buy medicine for his illness, he didn’t have money for hospitalization, so he took his own life.

Filipinos are said to be among the happiest people in creation, able to laugh in the face of adversity and the direst circumstances, but I think the social situation now has become more unbearable and it’s become harder to smile. Smiling at problems will not make them go away, but what’s worse is that the problems emanate directly from the institutions that should be protecting the people and ensuring that they’re given everything they need to not only survive from day to day, but to develop as people, as human beings with skills and talents and gifts. Ano pa ba ang kwenta ng gobyerno kung wala naman itong naitutulong sa mamamayan? Kung bulok naman ang pamunuan?

Yesterday we attended one-year old Ginger Clotario-Concepcion’s birthday party, and she was so cute and regal in her red cheongsam and gold slippers. She was the picture of pink baby health, and her parents and kuya Wystan doted on her (although for the most part Ginger was quiet but observant, carefully taking in everything she saw. I was under the impression that though she deeply disapproved of the noise around her, she had resolved to be understanding). I wish her nothing but health and happiness – and everything good that can come with the intelligence she has inherited. I wish for her to never feel or experience any of the sadness that Marianeth had to contend with growing up.

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