POSTSCRIPT / July 24, 2003 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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How do you like your eggs in the morning?

POOR KANABA?: When is a Filipino considered poor? What is the measure of personal wealth? Is wealth just in the mind, in the bank, in landholdings, or elsewhere?

Days ago, the think tank Ibon Foundation said 88 percent of Filipinos are poor. We have not read about the administration’s response to that, if any, but we expect it to dispute that figure.

Government technocrats say that a family of six (two parents and four children) that earns only P600 a day or less is poor, or below what they call the poverty threshold. That means roughly a household income of P18,000 a month

Rosario Bella Guzman, Ibon executive director, said the minimum wage in the National Capital Region has gone lower than the estimated decent income for a family of six.

The United Nations Report on the Human Development Index for 2003 has shown that the Philippines slid from 77th to 85th place among countries where people live under extreme poverty. The HDI measures quality of income, health, education and political participation.

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QUALITATIVE TEST: The characterization of the country as teeming with people who languish below the poverty threshold has elicited various responses at various times.

One time, there were suggestions to lower the poverty threshold so there would be fewer people below it. That was a dubious way of statistically reducing the number of Filipinos considered poor.

When she was Human Settlements secretary, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos observed that the Gross National Product, which is the sum of all goods and services produced during a period, is not a fair measurement of the wealth (or poverty) of a people.

Mrs. Marcos said that wealth is not to be measured solely in quantitative units (in peso values, for instance). She brought in the idea of also measuring wealth in a qualitative manner (in terms of, for instance, people being satisfied or happy, and saying so).

* * *

PINOYS A HAPPY LOT: How relevant is that elusive element called happiness in appreciating a people’s wealth or poverty?

An Asiawide (minus Japan) consumer survey has found that Filipinos and Thais are the happiest in the region, while people of Hong Kong worry about their jobs, the economy and their waistlines. The survey was conducted before the outbreak of SARS in China and elsewhere.

The survey report, made by the advertising group TBWA Hong Kong, was based on focus groups and five major surveys over three years in seven Asian locations. There were more than 15,000 respondents, with a bias towards those aged 25 to 35 who were thought to lead the culture in Asia.

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NOT TOO VAIN: The report, titled “Marketing Premium Brands in Asia,” said Hong Kong people scored minus 27 on the researchers’ happiness index, compared to minus six in Taiwan, minus two on the mainland, plus six in Singapore, 10 in Malaysia, 11 in Thailand and 12 in the Philippines.

The index compared the number of people who classified themselves as “very happy” or “happy” against those who said they were “unhappy” or “very unhappy.” Those who said they were “okay” were excluded.

Filipinos were not only the happiest among those surveyed, but were also the least body-conscious. Only 18 per cent regarded themselves as overweight, compared with 47 percent of Hongkongers saying they were “too fat” or “a bit too fat.”

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BLESSED ARE THEY: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” goes one of the Eight Beatitudes, giving comfort and hope to those who have less of the material world.

“He who has less in life should have more in law,” added the late President Ramon Magsaysay almost 2,000 years later to compensate for the predicament of the poor and other disadvantaged Filipinos by giving them more in terms of social justice. He died before he could carry out his credo.

This Magsaysay dictum came decades before the United States legislated a similar policy of giving “equal opportunity” (in employment, for instance) to those who are disadvantaged by reason of race and other handicaps.

Riding on a pro-poor platform, in the last presidential elections, movie star Joseph “Erap” Estrada made it to Malacanang with the slogan “Erap para sa mahihirap” (Erap for the poor).

* * *

POSTRATE PROSTATE: Talking of surveys, reader Sonny Pulgar, a reader, sent us an email about surveys and some. He listed them thus:

Survey: Masturbation curbs incidence of prostate cancer.

Study: Incidence of prostate cancer nil among the clergy.

Erap’s doctor: His prostate is that of an 18-year-old. He has bum knees, though. Told me it’s his secret dream to be a priest that led to that. “Blame it on the missionary position, Doc!”

Bacani’s US-based doctor: Urologist? No, I’m a psychiatrist. He’s here not because of prostate treatment, but because of frustration.

Sin’s doctor: Erap na Erap!

Mike Arroyo’s doctor: Enlarged and very bad. Shows seldom used.

* * *

JOKE ONLY: Of course that was all in jest. No offense meant. In fact, since we want to banish all thoughts about poverty, we’re switching to joke mode and passing on to you bored suki of Postscript these other jokes forwarded by reader Luzmac:

xxx

HOW should Coffee and your Boyfriend be alike?

  1. He has to be rich.
  2. He has to be hot.
  3. He has to keep you up all night!

xxx

HUSBAND: Dear, pinakita ko ang mga puting buhok ko sa dibdib, approved agad ang SSS pension ko.

Wife: Pinakita mo na rin sana ang bird mo para may dagdag — disability benefits.

xxx

THIS is a Filipino in the States making a long-distance phone call to Pinas….

Operator: AT&T, How may I help you?

Pinoy: Heyloow. Ay wud like to long distans da Pilipins, plis.

Operator: Name of the party you’re calling?

Pinoy: Aybegyurpardon? Can you repit agen plis?

Operator: What is the name of the person you are calling?

Pinoy: Ah, yes, tenkyu and sori. Da name of my calling is Elpidio Abanquel. Sori and tenkyu.

Operator: Please spell out the name of the person you’re calling phonetically.

Pinoy: Yes, tenkyu. What is foneticali?

Operator: Please spell out the letters comprising the name, a letter at a time and citing a word for each letter.

Pinoy: Ah, yes, tenkyu. Da name of Elpidio Abanquel is Elpidio Abanquel. I will spell his name foneticali. Elpidio — E as in Elpidio, L as in lpidio, P as in pidio, I as in idio, D as in dio, I as in io, and O as in o.

Operator: Sir, can you please use English words.

Pinoy: Ah, yes, tenkyu. Abanquel: A as in airport, B as in because, A as in airport agen, N as in enemy, Q as in Cuba, U as in Europe, E as in important, and L as in elephant.

xxx

AND this is another Pinoy in an American coffee shop:

Waiter: What kind of coffee would you like, regular or decaf?

Pinoy: No, Big cup!! Big cup!

Waiter: What would you like for your breakfast?

Pinoy: Hameneggs.

Waiter: And how do you like your eggs, sir?

Pinoy: Yes, tenkyu. I like dem beri much.

Waiter: No sir, I mean how would you like them cooked?

Pinoy: Yes, tenkyu. I wud like dem cooked very well.

Waiter: (with increasing impatience) Would you like your eggs… fried, poached, hard boiled, or soft boiled?

Pinoy: (with increasing uneasiness) Yes, one fried en one hard boiled or sop boiled.

Waiter: And what bread would you like?

Pinoy: Begyurpardon?

Waiter: What kind of bread would you like?… white, rye, whole wheat, or toast?

Pinoy: Pan Americano.

Waiter: We don’t have that, sir.

Pinoy: Okey, gib me taystee.

Waiter: We don’t have that either, sir.

Pinoy: Do you heb pan de lemon or bonete?

Waiter: Sir, you’re wasting my time. I shall ask for the last time, what would you like for breakfast?

Pinoy: Donut plis….

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 24, 2003)

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