…UNLESS YOU CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY.
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