Whether one is rich or poor, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone pays their way. Rich people are rich because they were likely to be exceptionally clever or industrious (or both). Poor people are poor because they likely habitually enter into commitments they are inherently incapable of honouring. The common denominator, however, is the same for both the fortunates and the “less fortunates” — nobody gets stuff for free.
So the initiative of “urban poor group” Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) to mount “a nationwide protest to call for the distribution of all idle housing units in the country to the homeless poor” is ludicrous at best and, at worst, representative of the very sort of thinking that keeps Filipinos mired in chronic impoverishment. It’s the Philippines’ infamous squatter mentality at work again — the thinking that one’s “neediness” constitutes strong bases for entitlement to favourable treatment. Kadamay has turned this primitive mentality into a potent activist card…
“There are millions of Filipinos without a home or are under threat of demolitions. Throughout the country there are idle homes spread across numerous housing projects merely deteriorating in communities with little access to basic utilities,” Kadamay chairperson Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano was quoted as saying in the statement.
“This is something we already know and can change.
Kadamay will conduct organized efforts nationwide to push the national housing agency and the Duterte administration to distribute idle housing units to the poor as an immediate source of relief to those who need it most,” she added.
Here are the two key flaws in the Kadamay Mentality — a.k.a. the Squatter Mentality — that activists propagate: (1) that some public housing projects are “idle” does not necessarily make them free to be taken, and (2) neediness does not make one special in the eyes of the law.
The first one plays into the renowned balato mentality of the typical Filipino — the idea that those who have a surplus of resources owe some of that to those who have less. It’s that all-too-familiar emotional blackmail perpetrated by leaders of the poor that keeps churches in tony enclaves like Forbes Park full every Sunday. The rich are “evil” and the poor are “blessed”. So to assuage some of that “evil”, the rich need to give to the poor to find favour with God. This brings us to thinking flaw number two — that the poor ought to occupy a special place in the eyes of the law. This is the sort of thinking that justifies stealing for some — like stealing is the poor’s only option. This is what the poor — and their apologists — use to justify illegally occupying property that they do not own.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had set a dangerous precedent acceding to the demands of Kadamay members who had forcibly occupied public housing units meant for police personnel. It is one thing to be “pro poor”. But it is another to be pro poverty. This sort of dole-out culture is the sort of thing that breeds impoverished minds — minds that have been conditioned to believe that neediness is rewarded.
It is high time Filipinos junk this impoverished style of thinking and stop acting like squatters. To be true winners, Filipinos should see hard and smart work, creativity, innovation, and intelligence as the only paths to prosperity. The alternative is to remain the insecure wretched lot that has characterised Philippine society for centuries.
Chronic poverty is caused by a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently incapable of honouring.
It begins with Filipinos getting better acquainted with what they are good at and what they suck at, and build their nation around a regard for themselves grounded on reality.
[Photo courtesy Inquirer.net.]
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