EDITORIAL - Window dressing cannot hide who we are

(The Freeman) - August 6, 2015 - 10:00am

The government is about to round up beggars in order to hide them from view when foreign visitors descend on Cebu for a series of high level meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. Why the government keeps on resorting to these stop-gap measures instead of finding real and lasting solutions to the problem of the homeless and unemployed trying to strike out a living on the streets has continued to elude an honest answer and a dedicated response from that same government.

Yet, incredibly, what takes up much of government's concern are the semantics and terminologies that have no bearing at all on the problem itself. A former city official prefers to call the beggars mendicants and the roundup a rescue as if names make a difference in their plight. An incumbent provincial official wants the rounded up beggars treated better than stray cats as if a little pampering changes the course of their miserable lives.

It is bad enough already that the government has not been able to help these homeless poor in the streets, it is worse that they have to be swept under the rug because they might prove to be eyesores to our foreign guests who, from what has been reported, will be treated to the wonderful and beautiful sights and tourist spots around the island.

The government has been doing everything to impress the foreign guests and has spent millions of pesos in the effort. There is even this hare-brained plan to suspend classes just so the foreign guests can scoot along our city streets unhampered by traffic. In short, everything is being done to project an image that is far from the true picture.

After the APEC meetings, and because everything is just window dressing and a put on, things will go back to what they really are -- beggars making a living off the streets, choking traffic everywhere, and schoolchildren none the wiser over what is really going on, that is until the next APEC, or whatever foreign activity that we feel attaches so much pride on us by merely hosting yet again.

We really cannot go on being like this. We cannot pretend forever to be something we are not. If we truly want to be seen as a progressive, cosmopolitan, world class destination or host, then let us truly be a progressive, cosmopolitan, world class destination or host. And you cannot be a true progressive, cosmopolitan, world class destination or host by simple pretense. We have to be what we want to be.

For who are we trying to deceive with our pretense. Our foreign guests are top officials in their respective countries and must therefore be already savvy to the ways of the world. There is no way they cannot see through us, through the veneer that we put up for them. Even the bright red adobe style sidewalks hastily put up is a dead giveaway to the spontaneity of our preening. Whatever it is we hope to achieve by our hosting could yet be lost by our clear lack of candor.

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