Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hunger Stats Reflect Vicious Filipino Addictions to Alcohol, Cigarettes, Shabu, Jueteng, Lotto, Prostitution

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may have a point about how Filipinos should cut back on "luxuries" in order to properly feed their families, but the way she put it has attracted the usual paleoliberal criticisms of her. I wish she had put it more bluntly and truthfully. I think that the quarterly hunger statistics recently reported by Social Weather Stations (19% total of occasional, moderate and severe hunger incidence as reported by heads of household) can be attributed almost entirely to the undeniable addiction of millions of Filipinos to the "consumption" of such "luxuries" as alcohol (beer, gin, and other forms of hard liquor); cigarettes and tobacco products; shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and other dangerous illegal drugs.

Then there is the inveterate predilection of even "the poor" to the illegal numbers game, JUETENG, which contemporary Senate investigations showed "consumes" about 200 MILLION PESOS daily, and among the middle and upper classes to a comparable amount going to the legalized Pagcor games of LOTTO and other games of chance in the casinos. What Filipinos spend on GAMBLING alone could probably wipe out most the moderate hunger incidence reported by SWS and interpreted as due to "poverty." But what is the cause and what is the effect?

Prostitution (male, female and juvenile sex for sale) is also a major "money earner" on which billions are spent by Filipinos in their incessant pursuit of momentary pleasure. All these vices, which the President called "luxuries" and got herself knocked on the head by the mass media and punditocracy, are probably the true source of the HUNGER statistics. Every quarter from here to eternity I suppose, we shall now have all sorts of moralistic and hypocritical people wringing their hands and displaying their bleeding hearts about how it's all the President's fault! A lot of the blame surely goes to the government but the editorialists and some of the bloggers are equally disdainful, especially in such places as the blog of Ellen Tordesillas whose Comment Thread seems to be be populated by anti-government scream therapists given to the creation of colorful, but hardly enlightening insults and epithets.

Billions of pesos are spent by Filipinos on these vicious "luxuries". No wonder the hunger statistics seem to be going through the roof. What I can't believe is how easily it has all been turned to anti-government propaganda. Surely, some of those "heads of households" have some responsibility and culpability when their families go hungry for lack of food!

Of course, since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is really no different from her paleoliberal critics in philosophy and ideology, her response to the surveys and the ensuing propaganda deluge is that equally silly one billion pesos to fight hunger. That is the equivalent of five days of jueteng.

To me it's really a question of VALUES among Filipinos generally. Not the need for some new giant government program.

Maybe SWS should do a survey on how much "hungry" Filipinos spend on these "luxuries"!

(1) According to Euromonitor International San Miguel Corporation's GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL is the world's leading brand of gin, and a Wikipedia entry adds:
Ginebra San Miguel's flagship brand, Ginebra San Miguel, is currently the largest-selling gin brand in the world, with 22 bottles consumed every second in the Philippines.
Last month I was trekking Mount Pulag and noticed a poster in a small sari-sari store which shouted that "P20 na lang ang isang bote!". Now this gin, called "gin bulag" is definitely a poor man's drink, but 20 pesos times 22 bottles per second times 60 seconds per minute times 60 minutes per hour time 24 hours per day times 365 days per year divided by 4 quarters per year is 346,768,000 pesos spent on gin bulag every three months. That's about 3.5 million MacDonald Quarter Pounder Hamburger meals per SWS survey quarter just in gin consumption. No wonder the hunger stats are up! And I haven't looked up San Mig beer sales yet.


manuelbuencamino said...

I almost agreed with you that the devil was responsible but....

"Secretary Ricardo Saludo attributed the survey results showing that the hunger incidence in the country has increased by 19 percent in February to the marked decrease in rice production.

"Saludo said that rice production slowed down from November to March due to a series of typhoons that hit the country. He added that it was expected for the respondents to say that they did not have enough food to eat since the survey was conducted within this period."

So God is responsible too.

manuelbuencamino said...

On second thought, it could be just more communist propaganda

Rizalist said...

Cmon MB, you know all those reasons are wrong, both yours and Saludo's. Think about it man! Say a billion pesos a day is spent on these "luxuries" when it could be spent on food to alleviate real hunger.

My point is: VALUES!

Isn't that what Adrian Sison of Kapatiran was saying on ANC last week?

You gotta admit, this makes more sense than anything else.

Rizalist said...

In 1996, I remember one of my first articles for the Lifestyle section of the Inquirer was a mathematical analysis of the then newly inaugurated Lotto lottery game. I treated it like an intellectual toy and treat for the readers. But a few weeks later an amazing story came out on the front page of PDI. It was about this pizza deliver guy who won a P100 million peso jackpot. Of course the article focussed on his good great luck. But in the inside continuation of the article, he was interviewed by the reporter and he said (with crowing pride) that at least once a week he would spend his family's food money on a lotto ticket, allowing his children to go hungry. Lucky for him yeah, but it occurred to me that probably millions of Filipinos were doing the same thing: starving their families for a chance at the brass ring.

That's the way we are! Ngek!

Dominique said...

Can we add cellphone load to the list?

Rizalist said...

I would hesitate on cellphone load since that might be needed for ordering Home Delivery from Pizza Hut. Also, I think of telecommunications as possibly necessary to livelihood activities, even if it is mainly used for tsismis.

manuelbuencamino said...


I used Saludo to show you how low this regime will go to evade responsibility and to tell you your puritan slip is showing

Your post reminds me of Sunday sermons. Specially that bit about one lotto winner's betting habits being projected and extrapolated into "probably millions of Filipinos." That's exactly what a bible thunper would use to lay a guilt trip on everyone.

Look, what we have here is a situation where people are so cash strapped every expenditure has to be weighed against a meal.

Preaching values won't make that problem go away.

Besides, that is heresy to our capitalist way of life.

As capitalists, we should be thinking of ways to CREATE OPPORTUNITIES to make money not to restrict the flow of goods and services with values barriers.

Preaching values won't do it reverend. It's OPPORTUNITIES that will allow people to earn enough cash to buy meals, booze, drugs, whores, gambling chips, and whatever else they choose to spend their money on.

The capitalist way is about creating opportunities not preaching puritanical values.

Rizalist said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
manuelbuencamino said...

So Hunger stats reflect vicious lack of opportunity

Rizalist said...

But the daily expenditure on jueteng is 200 million pesos--twice what Filipinos are spending on cell phone loads and toll calls. That's the Senate figures (courtesy of Sandra Cam).

Me, puritanical? Or Buencamino in stark denial? Wait till I get down to being truly statistical and show you the amount of money Filipinos are spending on those other "luxuries".

There is nothing anecdotal about my example of Lotto. It is simply typical.

Now before you start getting economical with your own logic, remember we are trying to understand the survey results, not getting down to root causes of anything.

The simple point you have to face is that those hunger stats cannot be explained in the usual ways. Every centavo spent on vices is a centavo that doesn't go to feeding the chilluns. Capisce?

Besides I know you MB! You won't ever look at or think of these "hunger" stats quite the same way again will you? Your values, at some level of huanity, are really quite the same as my values, else, we wouldn't be meeting like this all the time!

Wanna have , uhmm, lunch sometime buddy?

Rizalist said...

The SWS asks heads of household about the incidence of hunger in their families. What many people, especially pundits like MLQ3 and Ellen forget is that there is no way of really knowing how the respondents interpret the question and why they give the answers they give. That indeterminacy is however what allows such commentators to give whatever interpretation suits them or seems reasonable to them.

Sure some of the hunger is due to grinding poverty and lack of opportunity. All I am suggesting is that the universe of causes has got to include the irresponsible expenditure of family resources not necessarily by the respondents but by the rest of their families too.

That certainly includes expenditures on VICE, which I submit is a signficant if not dominant reason for deprivation.

The example I gave you of that big lotto winner is quite typical I would say of the poorer bettors. Jueteng takes a mighty big toll daily. Where does 200 million pesos go? Surely not to food for the bettors but to the jueteng organization.

You cannot ignore the role of personal responsibility and VALUES in human outcomes.

It is not all oppression and exploitation.


Re "You cannot ignore the role of personal responsibility and VALUES in human outcomes."

Tell you what, you are right. Lazyness has a lot to do with being hungry too!

There’s a report in the Uniffors website about Gloria and Saludo saying it’s the fault of the poor if they go hungry coz they’re just plain lazy!

Well, in a way, I agree with midget Gloria and equally midget Saludo.

If you really get down to it, those living in slums or say in Payatas and in other downtrodden areas in the countryside CAN NOT be lazy. If they become lazy, they will not be able to dig up fresh garbage from which to get their next meal.

On that score, I do agree with Gloria and Saludo, it’s the fault of the most impoverished of the impoverished if they go hungry and stay hungry. After all, there’s tons of garbage from which to get food.

Rizalist said...

Shabu heads are not "lazy". They are crazy to feed their habits instead of feeding their kids!

Dominique said...

Hi, Dean: It only occurred to me lately: we've missed out on a very important angle to the story.

You wrote in your comment: "It was about this pizza deliver guy who won a P100 million peso jackpot....[H]e was interviewed by the reporter and he said...that at least once a week he would spend his family's food money on a lotto ticket, allowing his children to go hungry."

So whatever happened to this fellow? Did he become a big shot entrepreneur? Did he become a jueteng operator? Did he pursue higher studies? Did he lose it all in a long drunken spree? Did he migrate to the US? Is he back in his slum?

What he did with the money afterwards should provide us with a clue as to the values you mentioned.

Rizalist said...

I hate to think this, but remember the PCSO's old motto?

Quitters never win. Winners never quit!"

With all that money, he probably kept on gambling. I'm pretty sure this was in the late nineties, which means he could be back to delivering pizzas by now--and not even to his own kids.