People flock the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila to give support to the concert of One Direction on March 21 -22, 2015. Since last year, people have been exerting extreme effort just to acquire the rather limited tickets of the band. It has also become a series of melodrama on television, as various news outlets showed how young people cried over not being able to buy tickets. Some even went above and beyond their means just to manage to save enough for the luxurious tickets that cost at most PhP 17, 950 or about $420. The craze and expense that come with the One Direction concert just show how many social inequalities are there in the Philippines.
Definitely, it is not a problem of the band. The alarming part is that the massive disparity between income classes in the Philippines is becoming even more evident especially in occasions like this one. It is terrifying to note that only 0.1% of the Philippine population is considered the upper class or those with PhP 702, 822 annual per capita income, while 90% of the population is considered lower class, income poor and food poor. Now, it is bothersome to note that some people can actually spend a fortune for a one or two-night concert, while the rest is not even sure if they will still be able to eat for another day.
For those who can afford, it is really difficult to empathize with the people. In other words, it is their own money they are spending. They must have saved up for it for a long period of time. However, if there is an intensive study of the Philippine national situation, it will be easier to understand where the argument that there is massive inequality in society is coming from.
As of 2013, the Philippines ranks among the Asian countries as having the highest unemployment rate with 12 million Filipinos. Likewise, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the country has the highest prevalence of food insecurity among Asia’s ‘tiger cub economies’ from 2005 – 2012. In other words, there are several Filipinos who cannot even eat properly due to extreme poverty. In another case, 70% of Filipinos live with not more than PhP 125 or $ 3 per day. The lack of government initiatives and the abandonment to its responsibility to the people only magnifies the problem.
With the above overview on how much poverty there is in the Philippines, it is terrifying to note that such huge inequality exists in the Philippines. Some can afford to spend on temporary enjoyment, while others are stuck on eternal poverty. There is rampant corruption in the Philippines that makes the situation even worse. In this country, the rich becomes richer by the day, while the poor’s situation is not getting any better. There is unequal access to opportunities, services and participation.
Though flawed and rather inaccurate, the government said that a family of five in the Philippines, to get out of poverty, only needs PhP 258.96 or $ 6 per day. It is a terrible generalization from the government considering that transportation, education, food, medication, housing and other basic social needs are way too expensive. The neglect by the government in basic social services is way beyond imagination. The people’s money only goes to the pockets of corrupt politicians and inefficient government agencies.
Now, going back to the PhP 17, 950-concert ticket price of the One Direction concert. It is hard not to dismiss it as lack of empathy to the people. If based on what the government claims as the poverty threshold, that amount can already survive a family of five for at most three months. That amount can send a college student in a provincial state university for at most three semesters. That amount can feed someone with a budget of PhP 100 or $2 per meal for two months. That amount can go a long way. But, of course, it is not the case. The manipulators of the society largely influence the petty bourgeoisie. It will just make them furious that empathy is demanded from them. If only the money went to those already forgotten by the government, some things would be better.
FDRMX Eyes: KaapiN is an experimental band from the Phillippines. Check out their animated music video entitled “Taxi Taxi” below.