Did you know that there are 925 million(almost a billion) throughout the globe, majority of whom are children in South Asia, particularly China and India? Yes folks, the said data was culled out from the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), a large humanitarian organization whose primary goal is to end world hunger. Cool! (that is how young boys and girls in school would utter if they hear great things).
But of all places worldwide, why China and India? Of course, one may be surprised why on earth there are still millions of hungry people in these countries despite their progress in terms of building major national and agricultural infrastructure. We are likewise cognizant of the fact that these countries are the two powerhouses in information technology, being manufacturers and developers of high-tech hardware and software. Most of all, China is one of the biggest creditors of the United States, a developed and industrialized nation! Yet, there are so many people suffering from hunger and malnutrition in the said countries? Hard-core economists would be able to further elucidate on the subject but there is a simple and logical explanation to this. One could be their dense population and another is the wide disparity between their richest and poorest people, among other things (e.g. beliefs, policies and system of government, etc).
Some people would have thought that most of the suffering and impoverished kids would have come from the poorer countries in Africa, especially when recent harrowing images of dying African kids are being shown on the worldwide web. We can hardly see suffering Chinese children being shown on TV, and in other media and online networks, and even in WFP’s website! Why? This is truly mind-boggling!
According to WFP, there is enough food to feed these people but the access of quality food and the means to deliver the same to the undernourished kids’ table is the big problem. Sure, respective Governments of these affected kids are doing their jobs but definitely it is not sufficient or perhaps it is not a priority.
So, how can each one of us help feed these people? The WFP has designed various ways on how to raise funds and acquire donations from the richer nations and other generous individual donors. But they have also other innovative ways whereby ordinary “unmoneyed” people, either in groups or individuals, can participate and donate grains of rice for the poor worldwide. This is neither a joke nor a scam! It comes from a reputable institution, so it could be real and legit!
My Useful Tips, being an advocate for a good and quality life for everyone, has been attracted to it and decided to join the said WFP’s program which is being managed by the FreeRice team. The scheme is not quite easy as there is a need to invest time and sheer talent (and treasure as well because there is a corresponding value for the time spent) in order to produce a grain of rice. Otherwise, it would be a futile exercise on your part if you don’t have both and the willingness (even on your spare time) to do it!
For more than a month, “My Useful Tips” has already donated more than half a million grains of rice for the hungry in developing countries. Said grains of rice can be gained by answering the questions provided in the website under a wide wide range of categories to select from such as Humanities, English (Grammar and Vocabulary), Mathematics/Algebra, Geography, Science (Anatomy), Chemistry, SAT (Entrance Exams), and other Language Learning (Spanish, French, Italian and German). For every correct answer, there is a corresponding 10 grains of rice which will be remitted to your coffers and eventually donated to the hungry in your name. But it is actually the sponsors and advertisers who pay, in your stead, the corresponding amount for the rice gained/donated.
Half a million grains of rice is not bad at all. It may be “small fry” to some people, but to “My Useful Tips” it’s like catching a “big fish” although it is just starting and learning to walk, a baby step! It has learned to enjoy and love exploring the alleys and byways of freerice web place already, i.e., hopping from one category to another! Hopefully, it would be able to deliver thousands of sacks of rice to the poor when time comes. What is good in this is that responding to the trivia questions does not only allow to share one’s time and donate something for the poor but it also stimulates the mind – a fun way of refreshing what one has learned in school, increasing one’s learning curve and improving his/her/their general knowledge on so many things under the sun! But if you have enough “dough” and don’t have the time, opt to share with them and donate your cash online instead.
Based on My Useful Tips experience, helping solve the world’s greatest problem is worth it!
How about you guys? Why don’t you try, join us, “rice up” and have some fun!
The Brain Drain phenomenon may have probably occurred even before the British Royal Society first coined the term to describe the flight of its intellectuals from England to the Americas. This would involve scientists and inventors like Joseph Priestly and Alexander Graham Bell who both originated from England but came to US to explore opportunities and expand their horizons But that was long ago when the world was still quite primitive and education system was scarce. However, with the present developments, particularly in science and technology and where education system can be offered anywhere, the brain drain issue may no longer be applicable. So, what's the current fuzz all about? Why do governments have to worry as of late about emigration of some of its skilled and talented citizens to seek greener pastures in other countries? Why waste enormous amounts of money discussing and doing research papers on the subject? There are various reasons why these people decide to leave and migrate, one of which is that they possibly want to utilize and hone their abilities to the full extent which their home country failed to offer, plain and simple. And I see nothing wrong with this. As Clark Gable had said in the movie, Gone with the Wind, “Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn”! May I say this famous movie script once again, candidly my dear readers, “I don't give a damn” on the opinion of some economic experts and policy makers that brain drain poses a threat to a country's economic development.
Coming from a country where unemployment rate is high and where talented people are underutilized primarily due to a massive over supply of high-skilled and educated manpower, the movement of “brains” from one country to another would have no adverse effect at all on the development of the home country's economy. I have not read of any impact studies undertaken by multilateral institutions like the World Bank that is comprehensive empirical enough to support that the departure of highly educated individuals has contributed to the poor economic performance of their home lands. What's hovering over the web instead are white papers, policy briefs, and technical working documents undertaken by these institutions in collaboration with certain Governments indicating, among others, that many of educated workers in least developed countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean are flocking to rich developed countries transferring their technical know-how which allegedly can be bad to their native lands' economic growth.
The said findings are actually:
1.Unfair to those learned but underutilized people who exerted too much effort and suffered the pain felt at leaving their homelands, particularly their loved ones, only to start a home and earn a living in a place alien to them. For all we know, these people would even be able to substantially contribute, at the end of the day, in the Government's revenue generation efforts in view of their cash remittances. However, not all of the best and brightest minds who have migrated to other countries are able to land in a job commensurate to their qualifications as some of them are forced to accept relatively lower level occupations just so to earn something for their families, but still they are able to contribute in a way in solving their home country's unemployment problem. Examples are medical doctors who have migrated to an advanced nation and are employed as either nurses or teachers. I hope you still remember Ana in the previous blog article, the underemployed immigrant from Bulgaria who holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Masters Degree in Engineering in their country's top university. She did not get the stellar job she longed for in the U.S. but she is now a Mathematics teacher, one of the noblest professions, in a prestigious private middle school in Manhattan. Economically and financially, this is still good for them as they are able to earn far better income than in their homelands, thus uplifting their standards of living and making them successful in money terms.
Similarly, there are also situations where brainy and highly skilled people of certain developing and developed countries are not needed and are not actually hired by employers as their salaries and perks demands are not met. Thus, they end up exploring in other countries to try their luck too and later become successful and probably have decided or will decide to go back to their homelands to establish a business of their own. And this is what I call the visible gains of brain migration.
2.Unfair to those equally talented people who have remained to stay and serve their country and its people. Using the term “brain drain” as one of the causes for a country's economic failure is definitely not pleasing to some of them. It would only affect the self esteem of some of these people and may be unproductive to some extent.
That's what I'm trying to say, that there's nothing for Governments to fret about brain drain and its related variants. Exporting underutilized or untapped local manpower, high profile or not, is one clear effective and successful policy in steering the country's economic development. These successful overseas workforce bring home the bacon, so to speak, in the form of cash remittances to their families and relatives whereby the latter would spend the money for basic necessities and other services, thus helping their home countries economy afloat, fueling consumer spending and shoring up dollar reserves.
What Governments and the CEOs in the private sector could do rather with some of its personnel, especially the talented and scarce professionals (e.g. pilots, volcanologists, seismologists, medical specialists to some, etc.) whose unique knowledge requires regular technical upgrade, is to send them to further studies and trainings abroad to harness their potentials and for them to echo the knowledge gained to its subordinates. What is also imperative is for Governments to find ways and means to create jobs for its people to make them stay and be with their family.
At the back of my mind, I would like to believe that the current brain drain brouhaha could be a mere ploy or one of the scapegoats of some Governments to protect themselves from being accused of inefficiency. Why did I say this? In a country for instance where there are highly educated personnel but politics play a crucial role in tapping managers to head government agencies, you will find some competent bright people who are left untapped to pave the way for the so-called “best and the brightest “ allied to government administrations but have learned to become corrupt and greedy, thus creating an environment of inefficient government officials. We have heard stories that some of this so-called graduates of top-tiered schools have actually participated in squandering the resources of a particular government. And this is where brains are tested and easily corrupted. This kind of scenario is present in all Governments throughout the world, be in third world or industrialized nation, thus it could also happen in the future not only in the public arena but also in the private sector. It's not what you know but whom you know nowadays, which means that, if you have the right and influential connections, you will definitely have the competitive edge over the person who is far better than you.
I know someone previously connected with Government, a very bright and technically well-equipped person, in fact he is even knowledgeable than his superiors as far as finance and IT related matters are concerned. He introduced new innovations in the organization despite a measly salary but because of his low profile personality and not being affiliated to any political organizations, he was left behind as far as top managerial promotions are concerned. He resigned from the organization, left the country and looked for his dream job. Because of his qualifications, he got hired easily and is now happy with his newly found job, not to mention the fruits of his labor. What's saddening and ironical about this is that, his previous Government organization hired a consultant to do the same project (since there was no one left who is well versed enough on the subject) and paid the man a hefty sum of money. That's what you call stupidity in Government's spending and by the way decisions like this happen too in private sector's boardrooms.
I would like to point out that given the choice and opportunity, a person would opt to remain in his native land as it brings joy to him/her to serve one's country. In situations, however ,where countries failed to provide the opportunity or could not afford to tap the talents or did not hire the person in lieu of a preferred individual, the person (intellectual or not) would be compelled to leave the country for survival. As such, Governments could probably refrain from issuing pronouncements that “brain drain” allegedly has ill effects on its economy.
Note that each person has the right to travel and explore possible options in other countries . As a matter of fact, the UN itself is emphatic on the right of a person to migrate, regardless of one's status, whether skilled or unskilled. As such, no Governments can prevent an exceptionally talented person to leave the country and offer one's services in another country. Rather, Governments must do its responsibility and exert best efforts to entice its citizenry to stay and happily served their Mother land.
Finally, this is my plea to all Governments, "Don't pass the buck" to someone else. Just do something to rectify any bad policies or wrong doings within the ranks.
In these precarious times due to the depressing economy, only those in the upper echelons of society (“the haves” and the “have-mores”) are willing and able to spend thousands of green bucks for high fashion, avant-garde and haute couture dressing. A classic example was the recently concluded (4/29) royal wedding of England's Prince William and Kate Middleton where socialites made their respective fashion headlines from head to toe.
But, for average and middle-class fashion stalwarts and wannabes (who may still fall under the category of the “haves” ), they would think twice on whether or not to spend their hard-earned dollar bills for designer clothes, shirt, jeans and other fashion accessories. They would probably spend it for more essential things.
Much more for the young “fashionistas”, who in their teens and tweens, are grappling to survive to pay for their college and university tuition fees. There's no question anymore that they would be able to take the plunge as far as fashion expenditure is concerned. Unless, they'll force themselves into enormous credit card debts and other unwanted activities. The same is true with small-time young urban professionals and minimum salaried dollar earners, who couldn't even afford to grab a big combo sandwich at a walk-in fast food, except for those in the dollar menu list. Oh, these people could fall under the “have-nots or my new coined term, the “have-less”, which is the focus of this blog.
So, how could the “haves-nots” and the “have-less” fashionistas join the band wagon, so to speak, of the hard-core moneyed fashion strutters along the aisles, pathways and byways of fashion metropolis like Manhattan, Milan, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo? Sorry guys, there's no way you can be like them, it's far-fetched unless you'll be lucky enough to win in lotto or in any numbers game! Seriously, even if I win, I won't spend a dime for a 100,000 dollars worth of a couture made clothing. That's what you call absurdity! I would rather donate the money to a charitable institution for a more meaningful cause. That way, I will not only make myself accomplished but I will also be able to to accomplish the hungry stomach of the real, unlucky and very have-nots throughout the world, especially the destitute in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Come to think of it?
However, for fashion's sake, the “have-nots/have-less” struggling fashionistas can still demonstrate their own way of fashion sense taking into account their present resources and the latest vogue in town. Come on guys, you can show them the real us (that's me included, hahaha!), the real fashionistas minus the high-priced wear. People (both men and women) who are gifted and into fashionable things have this sort of innate flair in themselves and it truly exudes outside in their personality regardless of the tag price of the clothes they're wearing. As mentioned in myusefultips previous blog on the subject, it is actually how we make of us, how we fashion ourselves, and how we carry it and show off our own sense of style that is most important. Probably you'll argue with me, that what is being said in this blog is merely rhetorics of creativity. Absolutely not.
For have-nots,have-less “homo sapiens”, there should always be ways on how to be creative and resourceful . There's nothing wrong in being bargain hunters especially these modern trying days. Some of the ways and means which I recall have already been included in myusefultips blog last year, include the following:
1.For those who have at least extra money to spend, along the inner streets of Manhattan, between 8th Avenue to 6th ave./and Broadway, there are retailers offering at a bargain some designer clothes, and apparels. You can actually find a good piece for about 10 to 20 bucks made by a budding NYC designer. Occasionally, there are “sample sales” for all the 4 seasons of the year and you just need to be resourceful to check on ads and announcements because that's undertaken for a very limited time. A 20/20 vision is also required to inspect which of the sale items are a good catch.
2.There are charitable organizations offering at a big discount some branded items . Again, you just have to be patient in sorting out things because these items mostly have slightly scissored parts (not sure if it's a policy of the donor famous designers) but if you're fortunate enough, you can acquire ones which have none, for a measly 5 bucks! I'm not kidding, this is real thing. Come on now start checking with your non profit orgs in your respective communities if there is a schedule for spring or summer sales.
3.Check your closets and the pile of old and unused clothes and apparels in crates (for sure if you're a fashion addict, you have this at home) and take out the more relevant and “in” clothes for the year. Actually, a simple wear of a white shirt with any kind of coat or jacket (depending on the weather and the occasion) or a jeans/slacks would be good to look at. This is one form of recycling your “wearables” and that's cool!
How powerful can people power be? Can it be a means to an end?
As the old proverb goes, vox populi, vox dei, the voice of the people is the voice of God! Considering my faith in God’s power, I quite agree with the said old adage. It can be deduced in a way that some sort of Divine intervention could have played a vital role in a successful people power revolution, especially in a non-violent and bloodless scenario. This could probably be a way of God’s response to the impassioned plea of the majority of the people for help, regardless of religious conviction. As such, if God so plans for any change in any given circumstance, anything impossible will be possible. However, the possibility of success and radical change in a difficult scenario would definitely require a strategic plan and courses of action from various key players involved. Yes, it couldn’t be through prayers alone, but it has to be coupled with a prudent action.
Typically, oppressed and disgruntled people would voice out their grievances especially under a Government whose leadership is marred with corruption, greed, decades in power, economic problems (e.g. poverty, unemployment) and other related issues. Initially, these people would at first voice out their grievances in the streets or in any other venue to demand reforms in policies and even to clamor for change in the leadership of a particular bureaucracy. If demands are not heard and merely ignored for so long years however, the next reaction would normally for the more active people to go out and hold large mass protests and as a last resort to instigate and topple the leadership either through non-violent or violent means of people power revolt. That’s what had happened in certain government administrations in the past and even during historic times, and this is apparently being experienced in certain countries at present.
The recent people power revolt in Egypt, the so-called cradle of civilization, can be considered as a remarkable paradigm shift in the political sphere in Africa and the Middle East. Why Africa and Middle East? While Egypt is geographically located in Northern Africa, it has close ties with the Middle East as it shares the same customs and traditions, and likewise politically closer to the Arab World. We all know from reports in tri-media that Egypt’s people power revolt was a hit all over the world as it made its long overdue ruler, President Hosni Mubarak stepped down and relinquished his post to the military. Imagine, the people waited for 30 long years for the economic goods to come but nothing came, which persuaded them to take their hardships to the streets. Many people have been injured and some of them unfortunately offered their lives as a result of which, but in the end they won. And yes, it has been observed that some of these people who were on the streets, especially the peace loving Egyptians, were praying and carrying their Koran, reflective of their yearning for Divine intervention.
However, the downfall of Egypt’s Mubarak may not be considered as of yet a full blown victory on the part of the public masses as the country may still in limbo as far as leadership is concerned. As such, the country’s present military management should facilitate the critical next steps particularly the holding of an official Presidential election and allow the people to exercise their right of suffrage for their desired worthy, capable and incorruptible President, if they so desire. In which case, they would be able to complete the revolt stage and realize the dreams of the people, particularly the ideal young ones, to have a President that would hopefully lead them and pave the way for the country’s economic recovery. They should make sure though that the reforms they wanted be realized and that the gains and fruits of their labor in the streets be not squandered for nothing.
The successful people power revolution in Egypt is echoing outside its borders. Based on news reports, Libyans likewise are currently braving their way out to oust an even more long overdue Qaddafi (Gaddafi) administration of 41 years. However, it is sad to note that many have sacrificed and the numbers are rising as of to date. So, what we ordinary worldwide citizens could help in any way we can is to offer prayers for the Libyans, that the internal conflict among them will be resolved soon, particularly to put a stop to further suppression and human bloodshed. I am not pretty much of a militant type of person, as I believe there are several ways to help other than being in the large crowd, if given the option. My prayer is for the entire leadership to be enlightened and for them to realize that their oppressed countrymen have human rights that should be respected and honored.
The same situation is happening in the neighboring countries of Egypt. People in Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan, Syria are also facing “dark clouds” in their respective leadership. As such, protests, riots, demonstrations, and other uprising means of emotions are exploding in these countries. Why do you think these things are happening nowadays? Could there be a reason, or could it just be a mere coincidence? The on-going phenomenon could perhaps serve as a wake-up call for other bordering Middle East and African states to address the needs of their people. I understand the Saudi Arabia administration has recently decided and announced to offer remarkable economic benefits for its citizenry such as employment assistance, interest free home loans and other related social welfare financial packages. I hope this could be a start of the happy days for these people.
The people power revolution in the Philippines was an “iconic” example of a successful non violent bloodless revolution throughout the world. People flocked through the streets and highways of the metropolis to support the call of the key leaders to bring down a 20-year running regime. The said revolution was unique as tons of prayerful mass demonstrations from all walks of life were held in various parts of the country. Considered as the only prominent catholic country in Asia, religious leaders, priests and nuns have actively participated and were out in the streets together with the large crowd of people praying, providing food, singing and giving out flowers to the soldiers manning the military tanks, making the environment a little bit subdued and peaceful. Perhaps because of the prayers offered by everyone, the deposed President did not react violently to the vehement demands of the people for him to step down. Of course, this is aside from the pressure of certain foreign governments which made the deposed President to painfully exit paving the way for a new and fresh administration to rule the country.
There are lessons to be learned from the people power revolution in certain countries. In the Philippines for instance, while it was relatively unproblematic and at the same time pretty successful in toppling down some of its Presidents, it has not really progressed much at all compared to its neighboring countries after a triple of people power. True, the exceptional and peaceful manner within which the Philippine people power was undertaken 25 years ago, did serve as a role model for other similarly situated economies. However, what remains and happens after the fact is the most relevant and important. Despite its success however, people power revolution is definitely not a means to an end of economic hardships. Corruption, poverty, and other major problems are eminent and its effects are still being felt by the common people in the Philippines. The rich are becoming richer, the poor ones are becoming poorer, the gap between the two classes of society is widening. This is sad to note but the poor Filipino people have still high hopes that someday they will be freed from the sufferings of poverty.
A rural poor setting in one of the provinces in the Philippines….
(photo not for reproduction please)
Hence, people power should be a continuing and learning process for all of us. We should be vigilant and always on the look out for any misdoings in our respective leaderships.
With the foregoing being said, I believe that the voice of the people, from both the vocal and silent majority, may represent the voice of God for the betterment not only for the majority but for all the people, good or bad. As such, people power is an influential and powerful weapon to overthrow tyrants and it has been proven time and again. The people power with an aid of prayer power and a favorable response from God is far more valuable and effective than anything else. Prayers can move mountains and I firmly believe in this!
Ever since my childhood, I have seen the sad reality of disparity and inequality between the rich and the poor*. This gap continues to widen through the years and is almost similar and happening in all parts of the globe, particularly in underdeveloped and developing countries where people are predominantly poor. As of 2008, about 80% of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. This bleak scenario becomes even worse when victims, particularly the children, of the creeping disaster of poverty can no longer open their eyes and would have no other choice but to wait for their time to die of hunger, to die of lack or absence of health and medical care, and other facets of poverty.As a matter of fact, UNICEF’s latest data show that about 20,000 to 25,000 children die each day due to poverty and these are mostly happening silently in the poorest villages on earth.Indeed, this is a sad reality wherein even those in power cannot or may not be able to help contain or lessen the widening gap between the two social classes either because of selfishness and greed in the guise of corrupt and uncaring people who may not want to end poverty.
When I briefly described the overview of UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) in my earlier blog,I was a little bit skeptical of how the formulatedgoals and the tasks to be undertaken can be achieved by 2015 in view of the many inherent factors and problems attached to it.I don’t doubt the wisdom and the expertise of the world leaders and the superheroes appointed by the UN to facilitate the project when they committed to and accepted the said grand and bold targets, so to speak.I just hope this is not like one of the studies that were undertaken by tapped consultants with hefty professional fees, and later only to find out in an archive, with no concrete solutions and tangible results.In hindsight, poverty is something complicated characterized by a plethora of moving ways and styles, a fundamental and critical issue which deserves some serious consideration by all of us.It’s like a serious illness that has been there for centuries and decades and could not be eradicated even if attended to by experts or the who’s who in economics or even with the recent discoveries of health and science and new state of the art technologies.
Nevertheless,as I am an advocate of quality of life and alleviating poverty is one,I do firmly believe that this particular MDG goal (Goal #1) can be attained and a big change can happen only if therespective Governments and big ticket corporations have political will which can provide political direction for this cause.I further believe that we can get on with this and ultimately overcome poverty, only if each one of us, the luckier ones, will sincerely unite and provide our share for this worthy undertaking.What is being required from all of us is a simple cooperation and willingness to make a paradigm shift, not only in terms of economic variables but also in ourselves, our attitude towards life, and our moral and social responsibility and concern for the impoverished.
I don’t consider myself poor and I don’t consider myself rich either.I certainly am no expert on this field but I am fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to have a decent education to make me relate and understand the people’s miserable state, people with no access to basic needs in life: food, shelter, clothing, education, health, livelihood and the like.This is where all of us can unite and it is may be the right time for us to extend help to our neighbors with no or scarce resources.I don’t want to delve on the history and the series of events why people become poor. I don’t want to blame anyone why these faces of poverty are happening.What I would like to do now is how I can help and share in my most humble way, realize the dreams of our brothers and sisters who were not lucky enough to experience at least even a piece of the good things in life.
The topic on poverty is absolutely heart wrenching, especially from my vantage point.This is not merely based on recounts from people throughout the globe but exact graphic recollections of my actual experiences and observations on how rural and urban poor in the country where I was born and raised cope with their sad condition.I have come face to face with the realities of poverty in both urban and in far flung areas. In the rural areas for example,I have seen boys and girls walking on barefoot under the scorching heat of the sun with big rattan baskets or a sackcloth on their back filled with local produce, apparently helping their parents who till the soil of a landlord, to liquefy the said produce into cash.It really pained me to see those small kids forced to help their parents to earn for a living and being denied the right to go to school and being exposed to health hazards because of economic deprivation.Another story is that of a man and his neighbor carrying on foot the former’s sick pregnant wife in a hammock–like carrier to the nearest health center which is located lakes and plains away from their place and only to find out after reaching the place that his wife has already expired due to absence of immediate medical attention.This is just one of the genuine tragic stories and misery plights that do happen and being experienced by some of our less fortunate brothers primarily due to faulty economic policies, i.e., lack of government support on health and maternal care and inefficiency of support services, particularly in the remotest towns and villages.
On the other hand,the face of poverty in urban and metropolitan areas are sometimes depicted by so-called impoverished informal city dwellers and their condition may even be worse than those in the rural areas.As all of us may know,the urban poor are mostly composed of migrants from the rural areas who have moved in to try their luck in cities.These are homeless people proliferating citywide with no permanent addresses and were left with no choice but to live under bridges, along railroad tracks and most of the times in so-called “smoky mountains” or smoking garbage dump site, so to speak.I had the chance to observe how these people try to cope with this kind of a desolate lifestyle and try to make do the little that they have in order to get by.There was one time I visited a family living under the bridge located probably just few miles from the Presidential Palace.This family of five lives with the other squatters who seem to have formed a community under the bridge.They live in a shack made of scrap cardboard/carton boxes and rusty tin roof, erected on a more or less 5 sq.m. area.However, above where they stayed was a newly repaired concrete bridge and decorated by local officials with glittering lights for the upcoming Christmas celebration, exactly the opposite of what was actually happening under it.This situation was a classic example of irony at its fullest.I recall the mother told me that everything is being done in the very small area.His husband and their three children eat, sleep,and do their personal needs there.Their focus everyday was on how they can feed their small children and how to survive and it was impossible to think of other needs like the health and education of their children.In fact, the older kids, about 7 to 10 yrs old helped their father look for food, scavenging or sifting through the garbage of nearby restaurants and food chains for leftovers to eat and recyclables which can be sold for a song, so to speak,to a scrap dealer.I had goose bumps while listening to her story and I knew from that moment that there are many other families suffering the same plight, families who got used to a slum lifestyle scavenging food for survival.
In the Philippines,for instance, ADB data, shows that there are over 3 million people who live in slums around Metro Manila and guess what,this is about the same number of people living in Chicago.Based on UN’s figures,Metro Manila is considered as one of the largest cities (ranked as 15th) and populous cities (ranked as 11th) in the world with a total population of about 12 million people, although some accounts show a higher number at over 16 million.On the other hand, New York City, an industrialized and well developed city has a population of only about 8 million people, the bulk(2.7 million people) of which come from the Brooklyn area, based on a 2008 survey.The Metro Manila situation probably could be similar as in other countries having the same socio-economic hardships.
For many of us who are fortunate to have an affluent lifestyle, who have the luxury of buying nonessential things,who have beengiven the chance to have steady decent jobs and sufficient income,would it be hard for us to spare a piece of bread, so to speak,to these people who live on less than $2 or even $1 a day?Can we afford to be blind not to see the unmasked faces of poverty in poor countries in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa?How can we help?How can some of us receiving huge bonuses or decent salaries from our respective work and realizing substantial gains from our businesses, help alleviate poverty in the poorest of the poor nations? Our extra money spent on luxuries could help feed so many starving children throughout the globe.So, instead of attending gambling sessions, frequenting saloons and bars for drinking spree or beauty salons for facial and aesthetics purposes, or shopping all the time for unnecessary things, would you not feel happy if you share something for the poor or form a group among your family and friends, which I am doing now by the way, for something more valuable, not only in the eyes of man but also in the eyes of God?There’s happiness in helping the poor, by the way, and that’s the best gift that you’ll receive after helping.
For policy makers out there and government authorities in power, I hope you will do your very best to do more for your country and constituents.You have been bombarded with so many complaints from your critics but nothing much has changed.Some of you out there may have stolen from coffers or squandered resources of an impoverished economy either thru mismanagement or “kickbacks” from implemented projects without oversight and auditing, this is your opportune time to renew, give back and show that you deserve to be the leader of your country.Majority of the people have still high regard in your sincerity, dedication and commitment to public service, particularly in improving people’s lives.
Finally, the beauty of the world where we live is that, it has vast and rich natural resources to provide food for everyone, to provide clean water, shelther, education and the like. With appropriate government policies coupled with the right attitude and contributions from all of us, I firmly believe that we would be able to help alleviate poverty and eventually save our less fortunate brothers and sisters from the shackles of poverty and build a better world for all of us.
I have so many things in mind to write about the subject, its causes and impact on economy and the community as well, but the topic on poverty is just so enormous.I know I have not covered all of it but my blog is quite lengthy already.I would therefore invite you to give your comments and feedback and it will be greatly appreciated.Thank you!
Summertime has just begun and in the US it lasts for almost 3 months. Regardless of the nature and type, planning for a vacation is normally a budget-buster in the family and could be a family issue in the long run. Despite this constraint and coupled with the continued global economic crisis, an average middle class family would try as much as possible to squeeze every dime out of every asset, so as to spend and enjoy a summer vacation. In other words, a certain average family would stretch its budget to allocate a portion of their resources for travel related expenses according to their desired getaway. It could include among others, a trip to either a cooler place (e.g. Australia , South America or certain places in Africa) or to a holiday destination possibly in Hawaii, Florida, Anaheim or any place which has summer attractions such as beaches, water parks, hiking, boating, and others ).
Note that this article would delve on helpful tips to explore possible options of budget-friendly travel deals. Thus, this is not meant for those sectors in the upper class, the jetsetters, or the CEO’s in Wall Street receiving huge bonuses, who have the luxury to splurge on first or business class flights and high end summer retreat.
So, how would an average-family earner, an average-salaried professional or simply an average summer vacationer, be able to take a decent comfortable temporary respite without hurting too much their own pockets? Hey guys, don’t fret about it, things aren’t so bad even if there is a 20%+ increase in airfares this year. In fact, living in these shaky economic times could be an opportunity – it could be to our advantage, so to speak! We benefit from the fact that some or if not most of the people would have to defer vacations and stay put, eliminate travel vacations or trim down transportation costs (e.g. driving instead of flying), which means that businesses like airline companies and travel agencies would be compelled to give out promo deals as part of their marketing strategies to entice people to travel. As such, there’s practically no point of spending a “million dollars” for your dream vacation, unless you just won a lottery! Perhaps, with a thousand bucks (for local travels), one could already go to a vacation spot within the US for 3 days and 2 nights. Therefore, I invite you to sit, relax and enjoy going through this blog for some helpful, practical and proven tips.
Like other personal or business related expenditures, planning one’s budget for a proposed travel vacation or holidays is deemed important and a great first start. It could be a short or medium term planning to make sure one is not spending more than he/she is making. Managing one’s finances is a plus and may be effective so as to avoid incurring additional debt, interest charges, bad loans, and the like. In budget planning, a certain percentage increment for unexpected expenses should be taken into account, especially for contingency purposes. This is primarily due to the fact that airline ticket prices just like consumer goods are subject to fluctuations, normally based on supply and demand.
2. Shop and Book Travels with Right Timing and Speed
Timing/Speed is of the essence in booking for flights and land based travels. For instance booking for air travels in advance, as in 3 weeks or more, may be cheaper than buying your tickets 3 days before the scheduled flight. Last minute flights are more expensive. But hey, there’s no need for you to book flights months in advance since most of airline companies keep on repeating their promo deals and discounted/budgeted airfares just to fill the plane seats. As reported in a travelogue, it stated that airlines feed their booking positions into the same systems and utilize the data from said systems to make price adjustments. Likewise, being conscious for the right timing in looking for budget friendly air fares may also be helpful. As stated in one of air fares search engines, one can be lucky to obtain cheaper airfares for a certain destination if he/she does the shopping starting from the nights of Mondays to Wednesdays or even to early Thursdays. According to the site, this is normally the period where airline ticketing offices would clear out their extra seats. It is also mentioned that flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest as these are considered the low-traffic days.
3. Surf the Web/Search the Airlines’ Sites
Surfing the net for wallet-friendly airfares may be worthwhile. Based on expert and user review sources, exploring search travel engines such as Kayak, Expedia, Fares.com or any related sites can be a good thing to do. If you’re still in school, there are sites that offer discounted air fares for students. Additionally, it is also advisable to visit official websites of the concerned airline companies for lower prices on certain occasions like anniversaries, etc. But don’t be a compulsive shopper as some of these cheap deals could have hitches. It could be offered for one day only and may not be in line with your vacation dream getaway. An example of this was when Jet Blue for instance offered a $ 10 bucks air fare each way on select routes! This could be a good offer if you decide to treat your friend to a one day lunch or dinner at another place, not bad!
4. Utilize the Accumulated Frequent Flyer Points
If you have been travelling on a yearly basis and you’re enrolled in frequent flyer program of your favorite airline, this could be a savings on your pocket or an opportunity for you to upgrade you to first class. However, there are certain cases where mileage programs can be both an asset and a liability on your part. So, you must be smart enough to use your points to your advantage, otherwise your rewards may turn out “nothing” or you may end up paying more, especially if you’re using a credit card for your tickets. On this, read thoroughly and understand the guidelines of your airline’s rewards program so you’ll be able to ask the right questions and assert your rights at the end of the day. The rule of thumb is, it is better to pay cash when the cash price is less than the value of the miles you would be redeeming.
5. Other Salient Matters
Booking or making reservations for your hotel is relatively an essential part of your travel needs. Whether or not you’re travelling with your family, booking a standard room in a hotel with kitchen facilities are considered as money-smart moves. If you’re taking your vacation in the Big Apple and planning to stay in Manhattan, you need to do your research and book early as hotel prices in this area jacks up dramatically.
There are vacation promo deals especially for short stays in other places wherein lodging costs are already part of your air fares. In fact, there are certain cases where park rides and visits to museums are part and parcel of the deal!
In view of the foregoing, I hope I was of help to you all. Should you have others tips in mind, please feel free to post your suggestions and surely it would likewise serve as useful tip to other readers too. Have fun and bon voyage!