Pagpag: All Eyes on Poverty in PH

By Ira Pedrasa,
Posted at 05/01/2012 7:00 PM | Updated as of 05/01/2012 7:35 PM

Gov’t: We are now addressing the issue

MANILA, Philippines — All eyes are now on the Philippines. But beyond its slick tourism slogan is the “brutal reality” of poverty.

CNN showed on Tuesday a report on “pagpag,” which it described as a “grim staple for Manila’s poor.”

The report by Kyung Lah showed Felipa Fabon waiting for trash bags from restaurants. Fabon is seen sorting through the garbage to look for “pagpag” or food scraps, which she said she will later sell or cook.

The report also showed a 27-year-old mother, Morena Sumanda, who buys the scraps to feed her two children. She later adds vegetables to her broth.

The report is part of CNN’s week-long special, “Eye on the Philippines,” which coincides with the 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank here in Manila.

About 4,000 participants, including finance ministers, central bank governors, and representatives from the private sector, academe, media, and civil society are expected to attend the event.

Many were shocked to see the report, amid the government’s attempt to paint a picture of a growing economy.

CNN’s own Kristie Lu Stout described it as a “brutal portrait of poverty.”

Over at Twitter, Filipinos themselves said it was so hard to watch.

@geoffbits said “Thanks @CNN for featuring this sad reality of ‘pagpag’; this is an eye-opener for the gov’t of the Phils. Hope PH pres. is watching this.”

@iamHoneyAngel15 said, “Gahg I’m a proud Pinay, but I hate all the corruption that led to 30% of Pinoys below poverty line. Pagpag on CNN tsktsk”

Others saw the irony of the situation. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, in his Twitter account, said, “Irony: the ‘it’s more fun in the PHL tvc’ prefacing a CNN videos on pagpag and baby factories.”

@cajupak agreed, saying “Just watched ‘Pagpag’ on CNN, and they say it’s more fun here… So #ironic”

Based on the data released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) early this year, the total number of poor Filipinos in 2009 increased by 4.4 percent to 23.1 million in 2009 from 22.2 million in 2006.

It blamed the rise in poverty incidence to a variety of factors such as the food crisis in 2008 and the global financial crisis in 2009.

Government addressing issue
The NSCB said the Aquino government needs to reduce poverty incidence by 2 percentage points every year if it wants to meet the Millennium Development Goal on halving poverty by 2015.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said he has yet to see the report.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, meanwhile, said the government is already addressing the problem.

“It is an issue we are trying to address. We are conducting supplementary feeding and we are working now on modified conditional cash transfer for street families and street dwellers. We enjoin everyone to work together to help the poor,” she said in a text message.



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