Friday, March 19, 2010

Two Faces of Poverty

Yesterday, I went to the UP Film Center to watch two interesting and socially-relevant documentary films by Japanese directors. The event was sponsored by the Japan Foundation in Manila.

Basura--(1:42) or gomi and waste--is a movie by Hiroshi Shinomiya that tells the living conditions of people in what was considered to be the symbol of poverty in the Philippines, the Smokey Mountain. For those who have not been to the marginalized sector in the Philippines, the Smokey Mountain used to be a dump site. The poor people make a living from sorting the garbage and selling them to junk shops. I felt shocked upon seeing the extreme conditions that they have.
All sorts of trash are found including human body parts. Despite this, I noted that the Filipinos have the ability to smile and look to a bright future. It is a reflection of the country's social structure where the few rich are served by the poor.

The other film with the title A Permanent Part-Timer in Distress (1:07), directed by Hiroki Iwabuchi, captures the life of a freeter in Japan. Due to the economic difficulties, many young people could not find full-time employment. Hiroki, the main character, works in a Canon plant as ink refiller. He earns about 7,000 yen (USD77.00) per day. He was interviewed by the media for several times about the miserable condition that young people have these days. Hiroki is seen eating ramen, bread, drinking beer with his friends, and smoking cigars in the movie.

The differences of the two faces of poverty is interesting to study. In Third World poverty, even though survival is a basic necessity, the people have high hopes for the future. They procreate--and therefore multiply to exhaustion--and still make ends meet. In First World poverty, a roof under one's head, decent meals, paychecks, and media attention are not enough to make them smile and see the world with a ray of light. During the years that I lived in Japan, I was told that they are in recession. To me, if that was recession, what would they call the situation in the Philippines?

You might be interested in reading these:
Surviving with Less Money in Japan



  1. 7,000k a day? laki nun a! that would be more than enough, even for japan.

    and UP Film Center, man, nakakamiss!

    stalking you via RSS,
    Anton from Sapporo

  2. Kaya nga nagtaka rin ako na parang hirap na hirap siya sa kalagayan niya. E panay kain, inom at yosi pa nga siya sa pelikula. Yun nga lang kasi, nasanay na siya sa karangyaan kaya siguro ganoon na lang ang hinagpis niya.

  3. 7,000k -> 7,000 pala. pag 7,000,000 a day, sobrang more than enough na pala yun, hahaha. pero kahit 7k, grabe, can't get over it. that's how much a part-time ink refiller is getting? sobrang lugi ata ako a.

  4. korek, anton. mag-rally ka na rin. 1,250 yen/hour siya. part-time job rate niya iyon.