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Sarcasm Aside

random thoughts of a self-diagnosed neurotic with the attention span of a five-year old... a blog by Alternati

The Art of Begging

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lao Tzu says:
Give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
Giving money to beggars is a pretty touchy topic (I think). I personally stopped giving alms.

When I was younger, and the visual aids of charity from my Catholic grade school were still vivid in my head, I would spare the change in my pocket when I came across the blind beggar at Session Road. The one with the harmonica and the make-shift drum from an empty container. It was never really something 100% genuine when I was at that age. I always wanted my Religion teacher to see me in the act and praise me in class or something. I was a wretched child.

Growing up and knowing much much much better, I've gone from giving alms selectively to not giving at all. It's not because of the green government-issued signs that say you shouldn't... but because of numerous awful experiences.

Many of us have been harassed by assertive beggars who aren't content until you empty out the contents of your pockets (and even bags sometimes). Some even have the audacity to curse at you if you give them change and not bills. My friends and I have come across some disrespectful 9 year olds (6 or 7 of them). If you don't give them money, they would poke you (they prefer the rear area). You just wanna slap them silly, but automatically feel guilty when such a thought enters you're mind. First, they're kids and second, put yourself in their shoes... Darn empathy.

Instead of giving money, a friend of mine tried giving food to this particular beggar. My friend's instincts told her that he spent the money on booze and such. Upon giving the cellophane bag of pandesal, the old man threw it to the gutter mumbling "Aanhin ko yan? ang gusto ko pera!" (What will I do with that? I want money) My friend's charitable acts stopped then and there.

I think giving alms only encourages begging. Why try to work when you could depend on other people. You can't help but be humbled by the sampaguita girls outside churches and the plastic bag boys at the market. My cousin would buy sampaguita garlands at Baclaran even if he doesn't particularly need them. His room smells like an altar... it reeks of sampaguita, and I've always associated that smell with charity.

Kids shouldn't be working. They should be enjoying youth. Social welfare in this country just sucks. You just don't know where to start fixing the problem. It's a vicious cycle that feeds on corruption and the tolerance for corruption. I always get these sudden urges to change the world! But, I feel so futile. Then the laziness takes over, and then you totally forget.

I wanna be the next Bono or Angelina Jolie. Philanthropist Extraordinaire. However, I have enough problems of my own. Not NIMBY, just the truth.

Lao Tzu (also) says:
Stop thinking and end your problems

Sarcasm Aside Lite

Didn't mean to be a downer this post. Just had to write about it. Ok, something more interesting and less depressing. On SV2G's trip to Europe, we came across some interesting "beggars". They weren't begging... technically. They more of street performers.

The Blue Lady (or Blau Frau I call her)

She was our first encounter of street performers of this kind. She stands all statuesque atop that small pedestal. Everytime someone drops a Euro (or 10 pesos in our case... hehe), she would bow gracefully like a music box ballerina and then return to her trance-like pose. The Blue Lady can be found at the Stuttgart Schloss Platz. She rotates her location but when we saw her she was at the entry to the U-Bahn. (Underground train... not white hair. :P)

The Venetians
During the latter part of the trip, SV2G separated into two at Milan. Our resources were dwindling by then. 9 opted to stay in Milan and later go to Venice. The other 4 (myself included) wanted to leave Milan to visit Rome, Pisa and Florence. Anyways, we reunited again in Milan, P's mom's house was our Italian headquarters.

The 9 saw these two in Venice. The left sporting a venetian mask and the right one eerily clad in an all-white number.

The Pharaoh

The four of us who decided to take the train to Rome saw this one. I thought he was a statue for sale at first especially after I saw numerous painters displaying their art at the Piazza Navona. Well until he bowed to a Japanese tourist.

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posted by Alternati, 3:36 PM

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