The poor, poverty, and Tanulong, Sagada
“You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:8)
Poverty is a state of deprivation from having due to many reasons and circumstances. Oppression, rejection, hunger, and death can be the result of poverty.
We all desire to have at least a decent life if not a life of abundance. It is not wrong to aspire for riches and to be rich.
Nevertheless, we need to be honest, humble, and God-fearing. Reality and experience will narrate stories of humble beginnings and yet remained humble in their abundance today.
Sadly, reality narrates as well, once poor and now wealthy but rude in their relationship and now spiritually blind amassing wealth but stepping on the dignity and rights of the poor.
Once poor, but today rich and he has gained pride to oppress society and a living testimony of graft and corruption.
Once poor, but given the chance to hold an office he oppresses his fellow poor.
Once poor, but today influential to enrich himself and family stripped from prudence and honesty.
Once poor, but having earned degrees to affix on his name and disregard the commandments of God and worse, deny God.
Once poor, but having acquired cars, acres of land, properties, big houses, a business, but does not anymore find time to be with God on Sunday.
Once poor, but having built a name, he robs the properties of the poor.
Once poor, but having organized a team for himself to oppress the real poor of the community and uses them for his vested interest.
Once poor, but living a luxurious life today because of the abundant opportunities.
Once poor, but living a lifestyle today as if he was with a car or born with luxurious cellular phones.
We often associate the poor and those in poverty to materially poor. The root cause of material poverty is not the insufficiency of what Mother Earth can provide, but the bad mind and heart of the few.
The discrepancy of material poverty and spiritual poverty is happening around us even in our own workplaces.
Jesus will embrace the poor who are indeed poor in a sense of clinging to the Lord for life. That without God, we are nothing. Jesus refers to these people as anawim, to simply mean“The poor of God.” And if they are the poor of God, God himself will take care, protect, and defend them from their abusers.
Jesus was strong against the misuse and abuse of the word poor and the situation of poverty.
We sometimes take advantage of the words “poor” and “poverty.” Sometimes, we use them for our personal benefit and for the benefit of our families. Sometimes the abuse and misuse can happen in the government and church leadership. We must be reminded that government and church leadership mean public service. It is a public service for the common people and the common good.
Once leaders are disoriented from the real meaning of service and we look at it as the sole means for personal interest and personal enrichment, the danger of dishonesty, graft, and corruption comes in.
The mode of assistance among the church and government long ago was dole-out. Maybe it was the need of the old times.
But gone are the days when people will just wait for the assistance.
I appreciate Domingo Amogawen, punong barangay of Tanulong, Sagada in Mountain Province, for his good understanding of public office and public service.
“We don’t wait for government funds to come. We must do our part. We must do what we can, if funds will come. We are grateful but at least we have contributed something to the project,” were the words of Amogawen.
Tanulong is currently opening a road. I wish to magnify the beautiful practice of the community and barangay officials united in their time, treasure, and talent to open their barangay road.
I hope that the provincial government of Mountain Province will acknowledge and commend Tanulong and its barangay officials and people for their good understanding of poverty and their contribution to overcome poverty.
Blessed Easter Sunday to all.
Reach me at [email protected].