Mendicancy Culture among FilipinosBy Randell Tiongson on May 12th, 2015
Mendicancy Culture among Filipinos – Is it a Bad Thing?
Poverty is one critical problem that the country continues to face. Although figures show that our economy is growing, more and more Filipinos still consider themselves poor, and that is not difficult to prove. Roam around the streets of Metro Manila and you will see beggars, children selling goods, unsightly shanties or families living under the bridge. With many Filipinos living below the poverty line and with very few employment or livelihood opportunities, some become desperate and resort to begging. Begging is an obvious form of mendicancy, but it is far from the only one.
What are the other signs that tell we are already developing a culture of mendicancy, and is this ever a good thing?
What is Mendicancy Culture?
Medicancy in itself is defined as “the practice of begging, as for alms”. As it applies to culture, the practice of relying on handouts or the “kindness” of people for money or other forms of help. A culture of mendicancy basically creates people who may always be waiting on handouts; expecting that others with more means will readily assist them, thereby taking away the need or the urgency to make their own way in life.
More Obvious Forms
If you are a Filipino commuter, you may find it common to see individuals riding buses, pretending to be Bible preachers and collecting money afterwards. They pass out white envelops to passengers for donations. Children who jump onto jeepneys cleaning shoes might not be new scenery to you. These street kids quickly clean passengers’ shoes by simply wiping it with a rug, then later ask for money. You may see adults carrying infants, beggars singing or playing instruments, and many others. Filipino tribes coming from different provinces asking for money in the city is also not a usual sight. There are Aetas, Badjaos, Igorots and other groups who would often travel during Christmas season to beg for alms. These are among the most obvious forms of mendicancy, and surely, you can name more when asked.
Less Obvious Forms
It is easy to name the obvious forms of begging we see in the country, but there are less obvious forms we might not even be aware of. Our country gets more than our share of typhoons a year. In fact, an average of 19 typhoons enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility annually. There is no need to ask why, because we can never control the forces of nature. Instead we need to focus on our preparedness and the ability to bounce back after a disaster.
It is a fact that we are one of the most disaster-hit nations, and this also puts us on international news. The result? Many countries offer aid in different forms. It is not a bad thing to receive help, especially if voluntarily given. However, since we lack preparedness and rehabilitation plans after a disaster, foreign countries tend to see us rather helpless and cannot help but offer their help. We, on the other hand, somehow get used to their assistance and expect help every time we are hit by a disaster. Shouldn’t we be improving our plans on how we can avoid as many people to be victims of typhoon or think of ways on how we can build stronger homes?
The number of overseas Filipino workers is constantly increasing. This still has a lot to do with poverty, but what does it have to do with mendicancy? The billions of yearly remittances help the economy, and these remittances are also what OFW families use to afford a more comfortable life. There is danger that the OFWs’ families may become dependent on them, and we can already see this in reality. There is also a tendency for the country to become overly dependent on remittances instead of pursuing better economic development plans.
A culture of mendicancy is obviously a dark phenomenon. It does reflect inability to fight poverty, unwillingness to strive harder in life, and dependency. Every individual, regardless of sex and race, has to have the drive to make him or herself better. We have to continually grow and improve not just in terms of the ability to earn money, but to improve oneself. Filipinos should not always live by others’ generosity. Surely, there are struggles and sufferings, but we must take these as challenges to strive harder in life. We all have to learn about self-fulfillment and dignity. We only have one life to live, so we better make the most of what we can.