IN PHOTOS: Kalbaryo ng maralita
MANILA, Philippines – How would Jesus Christ feel after taking one look at the Philippines' poor?
Probably not very happy — after all, he said "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
The Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), an urban poor group, held its annual Kalbaryo ng Maralita (Calvary of the Poor) on Monday, March 21, to protest the worsening conditions of the poor and the National Housing Summit, ending on April 4. (READ: NEDA: PH poverty in HI 2015 lowest since 2006)
The protest featured 4 stations with themes focusing on the struggles related to housing: demolitions, commercialized housing, low wages, and the lack of social services.
During the protest, the group also railed against the presidential candidates for failing to present plans to address urban poverty.
Kadamay Chairperson Gloria Arellano said, "The debate held more focus on mudslinging which benefits no one and cheapens the discourse of what Filipinos really need." (READ: Cebu presidential debate: Litmus test of character)
The highlight of the march was a 15-foot crucifix by artist Toym Imao representing the poor's hope for a better life which are blocked by the interests of "local and foreign capitalists along with patronage politics," represented by the snake.
For Kadamay, the yearly demonstration was about visually depicting the challenges the poor face in fighting for better lives, and their continued disenfranchisement, using the messages of the Holy Week.
According to Ibon Foundation, Filipinos living in poverty increased from 66 million to 67 million in 2015 - a stark contrast from the data from the National Economic Development Authority saying 26% of Filipinos live in poverty.
Kadamay, like the sector they represent, faces a tough set of challenges ahead, but said they will continue their crusade, come what may.
"We will carry this burden in constant struggle for public housing to be treated as a service and not an enterprise," said Arellano. – Bea Orante/Rappler.com