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Friday, October 22, 2010


I attended a meeting with the top execs of one of the biggest BPOs in the country. After all has been said and questioned, the meeting tapered to political discussions. From the obscenely repulsive to the heart-wrenching.

One of the men shared that once he ordered about a hundred Jollibee meals to feed applicants during a training session. This after he saw two female trainees not moving from their seats, all pale, yet trying to concentrate on the lesson at hand. The two girls hadn't had lunch. They only had fare money which they borrowed from their neighbors.

A hungry child will never learn in school. That was what we were told in college. Before feeding the mind, first feed the child.

The man said they usually get applicants like that who fail miserably in the initial training. Too much domestic and financial worries in the head and only air in the stomach.

Here they said they saw the merits of Noynoy's Conditional Cash Transfers. CCTs aren't alms; they're a lifeline. One needs to live first before they are taught how to fish. CCTs are given to families who will ensure that they send their kids to school or if mothers would take themselves and their kids to health centers for proper health education and medical check-ups and assistance.

One of the ladies in the meeting even mentioned that in one province, if all of a family's school-going children earn 100% school attendance in a month, they are given a sack of rice. Is that alms? No. It is a reward for not messing up your life despite society's indifference.

Last year, GMA, through TESDA, gave thousands of scholarships to individuals of employable age but were either jobless or daring enough to improve their lot in life through education. The grants didn't end simply at training vouchers distribution. Scholars were also given allowance daily so they would attend school every day. Remove the controversies and corruption, that was one of the best programs GMA has ever done. I won't take that away from her. Now, about 50% of those who have been trained are employed. I know this because I've seen it. We've even employed some of those former TESDA scholars.

We can give "free" primary and secondary education as mandated by the constitution. But some people are so poor, "free" for them isn't exactly so. Students get 20% fare discounts, but there isn't a free ride. Students sometimes get free soup, but never free lunch. And where would they write their lessons? On banana leaves? What would they use as pen? Uling?

The 37 "lawmakers" and those others who oppose the Conditional Cash Transfers should try living with the poor and start accepting the truth that poverty isn't a choice. That being poor isn't equivalent to being lazy or irresponsible.

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