[Prints & Traces] The Rage to Get Rich

Jul. 28, 2013

Davao Today

Ang damgo ni Juan de la Cruz:
Kanus-a pa kaha ta ini madato oy? 
Sundoga gud nang gipasunding diha sa tv  o!  
Maoy himoang inspirasyon kanang usa kamangangaykay lag basura, pero karon milyonarya na!
Magnegosyo ka!Ayawg himoang babag sa imong damgo ang way puhunan! Diskarte ang dula sa kinabuhi, Juan!
Himoang hagdanan ngadto sa imong damgo ang inspirasyon ug diskarte!

The dream of Juan dela Cruz:
How far away is my dream to get rich?
Follow that success story featured in the TV!
Let that woman who was just a garbage scavenger be your inspiration!  Look, she is now a millionaire!
Start your own business!  Don’t be deterred by lack of capital!  Clever maneuvering is the name of the game, Juan!
Let the stairway to your dream be an inspiration and clever strategem!

In our kind of society, everyone–most every one!–wants to get rich. Agree, it seems there is nothing wrong in this intense desire to become rich.  Why, money is the key to “a good life”.

But what is our notion of “a good life”?  It means one has access to or is in possession of all the comforts and amenities of life: A good-looking wife/husband [(if she is a beauty queen or a movie artistkalokalike — bonus na lang yan!), a beautiful capacious house (not necessarily a mansion), a luxury car, a high-income job or a lucrative business or profession — all of these, as much as possible, to last a lifetime!  And longer, for they must also be enjoyed by the offspring for all times!

But right now, who are fully enjoying this standard quality of “a good life?”  Yes, your answer is as good and correct as mine:  it’s the society’s elite, in varying levels of affluence. We can count the super-rich by our fingers and they are in level summa, the above standard.  But they are only 5 to10 percent of the total population who fall within what constitutes the standard quality of “a good life.”

They are the cream of the crop!  Economically, that is.

And everyone else — every one of the 90 percent in the lower social strata down to the lowest stratum who are tagged as the great unwashed, the dregs of society — gaze at them with envy and awe!  Who does not long to be in the likes of Kris Aquino and the Cojuangco sisters, or the movie actors and actresses, whose glamorous looks and equally glamorous lifestyle are veritable magnetic fields of anybody’s dreams and desires?

But that is exactly what is wrong in this kind of society wherein the widening great divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” are not truly, seriously and sincerely addressed by government.

Gitukmod ang tagsa-tagsa nga mohimo SA kaugalingong diskarte aron mo-asenso.  Ug ang nahitabo, ang gigamit nga diskarte pagkab-ot sa ginadamgong “maayong kinabuhi” kasagaran nakaligis sa diskarte ug tinguha sa daghang uban.   [Everyone is encouraged to strive in all conceivable clever ways to better his/her existence.  And what happen are the stratagems employed to attain his/her dream for “a good life” often tramples upon the rights and interests of the countless others.]

In effect, only one in a million is able to attain “a good life,” the so-called “rags to riches” success story.  And each of the rest continues to scramble for a footing (even a sliding stone) to climb to that desired good life. And it is a life-and-death striving.  Or, better still, call it “struggle.”  So many, left to their own futile devices, are maimed for they perish in the deadly scuffle to the unreachable beacon.  A good many are given vacation leaves in prison houses.

But who created this magnetizing beacon in this system of “dog-eat-dog” scuffle to get to their common dream of getting rich?

In the first order of the culprits is the government itself.  It is bereft of seriousness and sincerity to equalize the resources of the country for the betterment of everyone’s material existence.  A very few economic elite takes the boundless share of the nation’s wealth.  Practically nothing is left for the 90 percent of the populace.  And a deplorable anti-Filipino, anti-nationalistic granting of favors and privileges to foreign nationals and foreign imperialist interests compounds this.

Second is the lack of visionary leaders who could have designed a social architecture for an egalitarian society.  Personal self-aggrandizement fueled by greed for power and wealth is always the prime preoccupation of politicians.  The elected politicians in Congress are like crocodiles prodded by the opportunities for devouring as much money as they can of the public funds.  They are for all intents and purposes, misleaders, if not outright saboteurs of whatever plans and programs for national welfare!

Third, the craze for the cultural glitters of western societies has invariably steered our cultural capitalist peddlers to colonial-mindedness among our people.  The mass media has been utilized as the main conduit in glorifying the cultural trappings of the West, most particularly American subculture.  And the educational system is no less guilty in making ‘monkey’ Americans of the Filipinos.

Worse is government’s ‘come-on trumpeting’ in advertising hype of the Department of Tourism for the sale of our beauteous gifts  — our natural resources and human assets!

The “free enterprise” society, otherwise called “democracy,” has proven to be an oppressive and rotten system that works for the abject impoverishment of the vast majority and the infinite enrichment of a few.  Sooner or later, the stench of septic air will rein supreme where all sorts of indecency, immorality, criminality and perversions thrive as society’s lifeblood to its own self-destruction.

The rage to get rich is a social ailment that eats up the moral fiber of the Filipino.  It is a derivative of a culture of selfishness, engendered by the “high classes” in our societal ordering.  It is a social cancer that nurtures our society’s own moral and spiritual self-degeneration. #

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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