As Simbang Gabi (Midnight Masses) heralded commencement of Yuletide for many Filipinos on Tuesday, and with just eight days before Christmas, indigent children accompanied by their parents from Metro Metro’s urban poor communities belonging to anti-poverty groups Samahan ng Mamamayan-Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO) and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) conveyed to President Benigno Aquino 3rd their Christmas wishes through carols and letters.
The groups bewailed that their families shall be celebrating a Paskong tuyo or a poor man’s Christmas for they could not afford even a decent Noche Buena (Christmas Eve meal) because of their low wages from contractual work.
They said they shall only have their usual fare for the traditional Christmas dinner and their children will settle for hand-me-down clothes and toys.
At their young age, the carolers also decried the neck-deep poverty they are suffering because of the government’s economic policies, which, according to their statement to the media, is “not only reinforcing their wretched plight but unceasingly pushing to them to other vulnerabilities.”
“We could no longer shield our children from the harsh realities brought about by President Aquino’s rabid adherence to the reign of private corporations . . . Our everyday needs are becoming more challenging as Christmas Day nears,” SM-ZOTO president Orly Gallano said.
The carolers also brought with them a replica of an urban-poor house to demonstrate their supposedly unchanged miserable condition despite Aquino’s fifth Christmas as President and colorful lanterns with their demands that they hang on the gate of the President’s residence on Times Street in Quezon City.
“This is already the fifth Christmas with Aquino at the helm but even the slightest reforms that may concretely bring about the barest changes that will uplift our condition are quickly fading from our sights,” Gallano said.
According to the community leader, there is no more hope in the horizon since by next year Aquino and his allies in the Senate and the House of Representatives “will be busy politicking and gaining media mileage instead of addressing the most pressing issues affecting the majority of Filipinos.”
For Anthony Barnedo spokesman for Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod, “the recent granting of emergency powers to Aquino is but a manifestation and arrogant display of his fidelity to the business interests of powerful elite clans that control the power industry, countering all his previous and pretentious declarations”.
“Christmas is only for the wealthy and landed classes” in the Philippines. The poor will have nothing to share but its misery and scarcity,” Barnedo said.
The urban-poor groups said “the most tormenting and directly affecting their children are the scourge of contractualization and low wages, the unabated dictates of corporations in deregulated industries such as power, telecoms, oil and water as well as the demise of public social services in favor of the commercialized health and education sectors.”