My first real consciousness of governance was on June 30, 1992, when Fidel Ramos took his oath as President of the Republic. As a young kid, I was so fascinated by the fanfare of the ceremony that I even recorded the ceremony on betamax! I vividly remember the Philippine Broadcast Pool providing viewers with a proper context of the inauguration, as the first smooth transition of power after Edsa I. Not knowing so much back then, I was optimistic with the promises of a new term, and the promises of continued democracy.
What of course fascinated me during FVR’s inauguration was Felipe Natanio, more popularly known as Mang Pandoy. He was portrayed by Ramos as a face of poverty, which he wished to erradicate within his term. Remember Philippines 2000 and the vision to be a newly-industrialized country by the year 2000?
It is with sadness that we hear about his death due to tuberculosis. 16 years after he became a household name, we realize that he has passed away with no real change to his situation.
He remained poor and died poor.
Mang Pandoy’s death now underscores again the unfulfilled promises of FVR and his successors to all the Filipino poor, who still comprise more than 1/3 of the population. His death underscores that not much has been done. His death underscores the kind of hype and almost empty rhetoric of three different administrations against poverty — but with no substantial change to the lives of the poor.
May his death be again another wake up call to government — a reminder of its duty to serve to poor, as well as its job to erradicate corruption, which has been the cause widespread poverty.
I now recall the Arroyo adminstration’s face of poverty: Jason, Jomar, and Erwin, more popularly known as the “bangkang papel kids”. May they — and the rest of our poor countrymen — not end up with the same fate as Mang Pandoy.
But personally, I find it hard to be optimistic when the government counters with poverty through short term policies and subsidies, and with not enough political will.