BEtween friends: The Art/Deceit of Begging – 2 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 February 2015 11:52

Linda Cababa – espinosa, Ed. D.


In the Dec. 2, 2014 issue of this column, I had written about the increasing number of beggars in the city, the strategies they have devised to persuade the release of money to outstretched palms and the use of this occupation as a substitute for indolence in order to survive.  I accept that the poor will always be with us.  I am one of them.  But mere poverty is not enough reason to resort to begging for one’s essentials if one is willing to work.  There is so much truth in the adage:  If there is a will, there is a way.

Begging is not work.  Begging is simply brazen and impudent laziness unless one is neither physically or mentally capable of work.  Because, as I said before, it is not difficult to identify one who really has to survive just by begging for the charity of others.

Yesterday, I was at a pharmacy for a dose of my maintenance medicines. Since there were other customers ahead of me, I had to wait a while to be served.  A woman then approached me and without saying a word presented a small white envelope on which were printed:

Calamity Fund

For the victims of Visayas and Mindanao

Without getting the envelope I noticed that it did not state the organization or movement that was spearheading the project.  I looked at her as she offered the envelope with a shy smile that quietly pleaded for me to take it. I was almost moved to take it except that I also thought that, in fairness, she should tell me what organization or movement she was representing.  And then I could check it out if I wanted.

As I looked at her holding the envelope out to me, I remember hearing recently stories of passengers in a jeep or bus being distributed envelopes purportedly for a church project that was later found to be non-existent. This time, this envelope being offered to me was using the environmental disasters as a reason for the collection.  Very clearly, another collection racket inviting the sympathy of the innocent in order to make indolent money.

I decided then and there that I would not help propagate these deceitful collections but instead contribute to the discouragement of anymore similar activities.  So, I looked at the woman and very slightly but firmly shook my head, enough for her to understand that I was not going to do anything positive about the envelope.  When she saw my decisive headshake, she turned to the man next to me who was also waiting to be served.  Initially, the man looked like he was indecisive about what to do.  I watched him and thought that if he made a move to give, I would stop him by saying the reason for the collection was a lie.  And so, the woman would be forced to defend herself by identifying the organization she was representing. As it turned out, the man also decided not to give.  He told her he had only enough money for his medicines.

The woman left immediately after that.  And I thought that if her collection was indeed for a legitimate purpose, she would have stayed and tried to convince us because, in truth, I believe the victims of disasters really needed help.

I had said in my first article that we only need common sense to identify the real mendicants, the ones who honestly need and deserve help.  And help, we must.   On the other hand, the government, through the proper office, should encourage those who take advantage of the generosity of others to find ways to employ themselves more honorably.