…UN­LESS YOU CHANGE YOUR RE­LA­TION­SHIP WITH MONEY.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Need To Know -

My ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with those who aren’t as fi­nan­cially #blessed helped me re­de­fine my views on what poverty and pros­per­ity re­ally meant. It taught me to be less ma­te­ri­al­is­tic, and I tried to live below my means as much as I could. I bought clothes at the ukay-ukay. I made up for lost in­come by do­ing free­lance work on the side. Con­trary to what a lot of mid­dle- to up­per-class peo­ple might be­lieve, our poor­est kababayans don’t al­ways want hand­outs—they want op­por­tu­ni­ties. And if they are ca­pa­ble of mak­ing the most out of the op­por­tu­ni­ties they’re given, no mat­ter how lim­ited, then so can any of us.

Money was hard, yes. But by the end of my first year in Palawan, I was able to save enough to take my first trip abroad—a month-long back­pack­ing trip around South­east Asia—some­thing I never had the chance to do when I was work­ing in high-pay­ing jobs.

CHANGE CAN BE A HATE-MAG­NET…

Re­pro­duc­tive health and gen­der is­sues are one of the most po­lar­iz­ing is­sues in the coun­try. In a fo­rum we con­ducted for out-of-school youths, some­one asked a ques­tion about whether ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was con­ta­gious or not. My col­leagues and I an­swered the ques­tion in a non-dis­crim­i­na­tory way, and told them that no, it’s not con­ta­gious, and yes, it’s okay to be gay. Un­for­tu­nately, our an­swer in­vited a re­li­gious re­but­tal, Leviti­cus verses and all, from another ed­u­ca­tor.

On another oc­ca­sion, we held a youth health fair in a school out­side the city. We taught hun­dreds of high school stu­dents about safe sex, con­sent, healthy re­la­tion­ships and gen­der iden­tity is­sues. It was a suc­cess; the stu­dents and teach­ers were en­thu­si­as­tic and re­cep­tive. A few weeks later, we saw pho­tos from the event, meme-fied in an anti-rh Face­book page, along with false ac­cu­sa­tions that our “sex ed car­a­van” was dis­tribut­ing con­doms to mi­nors.

…BUT YOU’LL BE FINE IF YOU KNOW YOU’RE FIGHT­ING THE GOOD FIGHT.

A lot of the change we want for this coun­try, on the sur­face, seems to in­volve chang­ing peo­ple’s be­hav­ior. We want to stop crime, stop drugs, stop lit­ter­ing, stop cor­rup­tion, stop poverty, and stop those douchebags from driv­ing on the wrong lane or park­ing in the wrong spots. But be­fore we can change how peo­ple act, we first have to change not only how peo­ple think, but also their per­cep­tions of JULY 2016 COS­MOPOLI­TAN

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