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Leobelo Jofel Delicana Social Philosophy

AB Philosophy IV March 4, 2014



Kahirapan
(A Reflection on two documentary films of Philippine Agenda
entitled Edukasyon and Gutom)
No man is an island. This famous dictum speaks of our relationship with our
fellowmen. No one exists for himself or herself. Every individual needs others in one way or
another. What we mean to say is that no person could claim that he or she does not need the help
of others. We are in the reality that there is the presence of our relationships with others. The
most obvious are family relations.
With the presence of these relationships, it implies one thing. That is obligation. We have
obligations to other people. This is imbedded within our hearts by virtue of the principle of
solidarity as well as subsidiarity. The first principle speaks of the obligation of each person to be
a person for others as what Pope John Paul II would put it. The other principle speaks of the
responsibility of higher-order communities (HOCs) to help the lower ones. This principle
however also looks at the situation. This would mean that the higher-order communities (will
only extend auxilium or help to the lower-order (LOCs) communities if they really need help.
For it is also the duty of HOCs to let the LOCs learn autonomy and responsibility on their own.
They must also learn how to do things themselves and be resilient in times that they may
experience difficulties and problems.
Now, let us look into the situation of Gutom and Edukasyon in Caloocan City. The
issue here is the experience of starvation, of incapability of buying food three times a day for
families who are so poor. Another situation is the lack of resources of the learners, both in their
material needs such as books and the need for competent teachers. Both of these issues are
rooted to one thing- poverty! Poverty as a structural form of violence is something that destroys
the good nature of the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity. There is no direct infliction of pain
or of harm to the victims but it is something that causes distress not only physically but also
psychologically and emotionally. Thus, such kinds of violence kill the human person slowly,
making him/ her feel the gradual loss of his worthiness before finally killing the physical aspect.
This is the sad reality.
I was quite affected when I first saw the particular situation of a family eating pagpag
(leftover food disposed by restaurants/ food chains). The mother gathers some leftover food
cooks it by frying it in oil. Then the family composed of four children gathered around the meal
of pagpag. The other situation was that of a girl elementary student. She was malnourish and
weighs only more than half of what his ideal weight should be. The little girl who was one of the
top students in class goes to school even at times when she did not have any meal for the day.
She continues to strive for the little child at her early age had realized the value of education for
her future as well as the future of his family.
A was able to reflect and realize that there is a big problem in the system of distribution
of the resources in our country. I am not saying that the government is not doing anything to
resolve or at least address the issue but my point is that it is very evident that their efforts are not
enough. If distributive justice is to be applied, I would really agree with John Rawls. The help
that would be given by the government should be intended and intensified to the poor people.
Moreover, it is also good to think of the rich people giving help to the poor ones. What I
have in mind is the question that, Would it really hurt if the rich people would give their excess
money and resources to the poor ones? It is even followed by the question Are they happy
seeing other people starve and become miserable while they live in luxury? the point I am
making is that as social individuals with rationality and most especially, with a sense of feeling
and compassion, we must also be mindful of the situation of others. We need to be aware or be
reminded of the fraternal relationship we have with our fellowmen.
On the other hand, the poor on their part must also act. They must not rely solely on the
help coming from other people. They also need to become responsible themselves in dealing
with reality and the unchangeable fact of change in this world. Unless the poor themselves try to
help themselves, there would still be accounts of problems about poverty. Before other people
would help them, they must first also show that they have efforts of helping themselves.
As a conclusion, I would really believe that in order to change the world and make it
better for our human life as social beings, each and every human being must participate with
awareness of their responsibilities and with good and pure intention to be of help in contributing
goodness in the world.