Saturday, August 30, 2014

Musings: Glen

Yesterday I met my former “striker” in a previous assignment.  A striker is the police lingo for a “boy” as in houseboy.  Strikers are commonly all around helpers:  cook, dishwasher, janitor, and what have you.  They are usually people that we consider the less fortunate ones in life.  They have an informal, “contractless” job in a police office because they happened to have an initial contact with the policemen there (usually not under the best circumstances) and have caught the sympathy of some, thus they were given the menial jobs in exchange for food and lodging.  I have known one striker whose first contact with the police is during his suicide attempt in EDSA where he climbed a lamp post.  After he was dissuaded by the police from carrying out his plan, he became a striker.  Aside from the new job, he also got a new name:  “Meralco.”

Glen has just turned 18 when he became a striker in my office.  He was already two years being a striker when I joined that office, thus he was 20 at that time our paths crossed.  He told me that he is from Leyte and that he came to Manila in search of a better life.  His parents separated when he was a year old and he was raised by his maternal grandmother.  He tagged along his neighbor when they stowed away in a delivery truck hauling goods from their province to Manila.  He then stayed with that neighbor in the squatters area beside the police camp. 

Glen is a very industrious boy.  He does everything with nary a complaint.  Unfortunately, he only finished grade 4.  For all his efforts, he receives 500 a week, taken from the MOOE of the office.  This is augmented by the “abot” of PNP personnel who gives him extra cash in exchange for some personal favors such as washing their cars or running an errand for them.  When I left Glen in 2008, he had a girlfriend.  The girl is 4 years younger than him and they have the same circumstances—elementary undergrad, virtually jobless, and nearly out of luck.  Back then, I told him that it is ok to have a family as long as he can support them.  He told me that he only wanted to have one child and that will be enough for him.  For that matter, I told him to always consult with the barangay health center for the family planning methods.

A year later, he proudly told me that they had a son.  He told me that he will have his wife ligated as they are already satisfied with one child.  Glen understands the responsibility and is fully aware of the challenges that he faces as a father and head of the family.

Fast forward to 2014.  I saw Glen with his three children in tow and his wife is heavy with their fourth child.  He is still a striker though he told me that he now receives P100 per day and the “abot” had also increased.  I asked him what happened to his plan of having only one child.  He told me that the doctors at the health center did not want to ligate his wife, saying that she was still too young.  As for the alternative methods, he said that his wife cannot bear the side effects of the cheap pills that the health center gives for free and he does not like to use the thick condoms that are also given free by the health center.  But they cannot afford the expensive commercial versions.

Glen’s case is a sad commentary of government policies on population control.  That reasoning of doctors of not performing vasectomy or ligation on young people no matter what the circumstance is a very common refrain that I hear in the course of my job.  Many WCPD cases involved women with the same circumstances as Glen and his wife.  Many of these families have more children than they can realistically support.  Many of them are virtually jobless and many rely on the underground sex industry for daily sustenance.  Worst, many of them bore children whose fathers they cannot identify.  When I ask them why do they not have themselves ligated, not a few actually expressed willingness to undergo the procedure but encountered the same challenge as Glen:  no government doctor would perform the procedure on women under 30.  And they cannot afford a private doctor.  Thus, they and their many children are living in sub-human conditions.

I asked some friends who are government doctors about this no-ligation-under-30 and they are unanimous that the fundamental reason is not medical:  it is in some beliefs that is based on the dominant religion.  Though there is no formal prohibition by the government preventing them from doing the procedure, they are not doing it for fear of political repercussions from their bosses and the policy makers upstairs.

Well, I will stop here in my musings lest I will again lambast the Roman Catholic Church for many of the woes of this country.

2 comments:

  1. akala ko si glen dumlao ang topic dito...hehehehe.......keep blogging pare, enjoy to the max ako sa pagbabasa........

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    Replies
    1. hahaha, salamat sa visit! please do come back and make your opinions known sir!

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