Root cause of poverty

One of the most important - and hopefully earliest - lessons we all learn as we grow up is that interesting matter of “cause and effect”.

Much about life centers around this principle. You do (or do not so) something, as a result something else happens (or doesn’t). You say (or do not say) something, as a result something else happens or does not happen, is said or is not said.

Sometimes the consequence is immediately felt. Try, for example, to make an FB post about shooting the President of the United States and, as Donald Trump loves to say, “believe me” you’ll have the FBI and the Secret Service knocking on your door in no time.

Sometimes the consequences of what you do (or don’t do) only become evident later- months or even years later. A baby being born is a consequence of what you did (had a wild night) or did not do (take precautions). A diseased lung is a consequence of what you did years ago (smoke); a house on fire may be a consequence of what you just did last night (smoked in bed).

Poverty is often a consequence of so many factors, from genetics to choices our elders made in life to choices we make in life that there often is quite some difficulty in identifying just one principle cause for such a sorry state.

But for some people including the Madame who I now refer to as the Secretary of Environment and Social Justice, her understanding of the cause of poverty is simple.

It’s Mining.

Then again, it’s only simple. It is also unshakeable. Time after time, in interview after interview, she has openly, clearly and even emotionally expressed this belief: wherever there is mining the people are poor. This is why I suspect she has far more doubts about the infallibility of the Pope or the Catholic dogma about Mary the Mother of God than she has about mining being cause of poverty in the Philippines.

On this latter point I think her belief system is ironclad.

Which led me to look at the ten poorest provinces of the Philippines.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the ten poorest provinces of the Philippines are Lanao del Sur, Eastern Samar, Apayao, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Sarangani, North Cotabato, Negros Oriental, and Northern and Western Samar.

They are a varied lot - covering our three island groups, from the north to the south, from the east to the west. They intrigued me so I tried my best one night to try to see what is common to them, what could be the root cause of poverty in them.

For sure it wasn’t responsible mining.

For hours I labored at my study table, asking myself: What is common about these ten provinces that could very well be the root cause of their poverty?

Then one midnight, as I was about to turn in after watching CNN, it hit me. And it hit me hard: one thing that is common about these provinces is…

Oh my God, that was it!

Ever since that night I have slept like a baby having solved one of the most important mysteries of this Universe. Or at least of our country.

Where there is ABS CBN, there is poverty!!!

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