Monday, September 01, 2008

Felipe Natanio, "Mang Pandoy", 63

Felipe Natanio, better known to Pinoys as Mang Pandoy, was for a few months (I think) in the presidency of Fidel Ramos, the living icon of urban poverty in the Philippines. He passed away last Sunday due to the quintessential disease of the poor, tuberculosis. He is survived by his eight children.

He was earning just 50 PhP a day before he was catapulted into the limelight. After his poverty became a cause celebre, he was offered capital to start a business, had his own TV show in the government network, and became a consultant to Congress. It seemed that he would be lifted out of poverty. Alas that was not to be.

When Ramos was succedeed by Joseph Estrada, Mang Pandoy was forgotten despite Estrada's "para sa mahirap" mantra. It was this time that Pandoy wasn't able to sustain his business, lost his Congress job, sold his house and zoomed back to poverty.

Pandoy's tale is the icon of how Philippine society deals with poverty and is a damning indictment and damnation of all of us, the elite and its perverted noblesse oblige, the politics addicted Philippine Catholic Church, the education sector, show business, big business, in short all of us,including Mang Pandoy's co-poor. Many better off Pinoys feel good when alms are given to the poor and believe they have earned brownie points up there. But that is simply what is wrong. The giving of alms degrades human dignity.

What Mang Pandoy received in his moment of fame is one big dole that failed to lift him out of poverty. The poor don't need doles. Gloria Arroyo in her Catholic piety has fallen into the trap of giving out doles. Of course it is good politics, But Arroyo fails to read the writing on the wall. The poor are not fooled!

Perhaps Pandoy's daughter said it best. "My father should have been given a way out of poverty that was within his capabilities. He never got an education" These are potent words. The only way out of poverty is education not only because it empowers,but because it builds and preserves human dignity.

Education has become an expensive and low quality commodity.This state of affairs will send more people into poverty.

The Catholic Church is damned too. If Mang Pandoy had been empowered by education to determine the size of his family, would his poverty be lessened? The Church cannot find the answers save for threats of damnation and hysterics while it claims it has the truth.

Well for Mang Pandoy, the journey is done. May you rest in peace and like Lazarus who was once poor, show us the way to the Father's house. Amen.


Gabby said...

hi! why is it the catholic church's fault that he wasn't given an education? why was it the catholic church's fault he had too many kids (which i'd like to question too: do we say you have too many kids when u have many kids and simultaneously poor?)? Birth control isn't illegal right? back in his youth (30 plus years ago), could he have bought condoms? (30 years ago... i'm not sure, this to me is an interesting question...)

Let me be restate my question for clarity. It is not obvious to me why the catholic church is to blame for any of this (general case, not just mang pandoy). None of the contraceptives are illegal. People know how much money they make (or don't make). They choose how much sex they engage in. They know how much it costs to raise a kid. Moreover, if the argument is that they have sex without thinking about the repurcussions, (which is against church teachings to be a good person), why do we expect them to be reigned in by church teachings on contraception?

thanks! great blog!

blackshama said...

Did any of the Catholic schools or charities give him a chance for free education? This is beyond the contraception issue. Education empowers and allows a person to make choices.This is simply the issue here.

If he did get to school in De La Salle, (which in 1912 was originally intended for very poor boys or Ateneo de Manila, which 150 years ago was really for the less prvileged), then my indictment of the Church would be lessened.

BTW I indict all of us in equal measure. Fidel Ramos hand washing here is simply distasteful.