..and how and why I wrote this website
A little about me: my name is Florentino and I am from Ilocos Region in the Philippines, where I happily live with my wife and three little boys aged 12, 5, and 2.
I had a short stint with a commercial bank as an Account Officer. I was not happy with that work because I processed and monitored loan accounts given to big businesses and people who could afford to offer collateral as security of their loans. I said: “I am being used to create a big gap between the rich and the poor with this work.”
So, I resigned.
I shifted my career to cooperative as Training Officer developing educational programs for the cooperative members and later in 1999, I was assigned to oversee our cooperative’s Microfinance Programs.
I always believe that development is a collective effort and should always start at the grassroots. People always clamor for empowerment but that is a vague concept. Empowerment could only be achieved with these three strategies:
- People Access to Financial Services
- Good Infrastructure and Platform for Microenterprises
- Equal Opportunity to Learning and Educational System
Of course, big businesses and foundations can do these but I doubt the sense of belongingness of the poor.
In co-operative and in microfinancing system, poor people owned the business, run the enterprise and benefit from the system.
Living with the Poor is a Radical Choice.
Whenever someone asked me to describe myself with one word, I often answered: RADICAL.
And why not?
I grew up in a barrio. My mother was a farmer and still she is (I think I should change this one into ‘she was’ because she’s gone). My father was a miner and now back to the farm. I picked squash flowers and string beans so that I could just have my allowance going to school. I walked 5 miles going to my local school and again another 5 miles going home.
During weekends, I helped my parents make charcoal.
Whew! Those were happy days.
When I entered college I was forced to enroll in a seminary because my parents couldn’t afford to send me somewhere. Else, I stopped.
At least, in the seminary, I could beg for donors. Begging threatens self-esteem so I made up for it by skipping my classes and joining some street marches as well as organizing community groups. The poor in me was and still is burning.
I was almost lured to the comfort of priesthood but I soon realized that the ‘word is made flesh’ by doing something in poverty alleviation.
The pulpit is not enough.
Why Radical Frontiers?
While in college, one of our resident psychologists told me that I was a ‘social deviant’ in the making. Yes, I was and yes I am. If social deviant is taking the discourse usually shun by many, then, so be it. But, I preferred to be called Social Radical.
I have build this blog with two main aims in view:
The first is to help publicise easy tips and techniques that can have impact in poverty alleviation.
I always believe that leaving the poorest of the society in their dire world, then, this world is not humane. Yes, there are some amazing poor people who manage against the odds, battling poor health for years, living with just 2 dollars a day and who still manage to contribute to society and enjoy life.
But for most of us, being involve is the first step on the road to happiness and wealth, the first step on the way to being and doing what we want in life. Acknowledging that there are poor people who need our help and having specific strategies helping them also make it easier for us contribute something to our society and culture, which helps us to find true meaning in life.
Changing and saving lives is a radical choice and it is not easy. It is a radical frontier and noble enough to work with.
The best things in life are free –
They need only to be discovered and put into actions!
The second aim of my blog is to provide people with radical links and applicable approaches in changing and saving lives and in return earn a living out of it.
I believe that we often contented ourselves to what we have and know, here and now. Some people, though, travel long journeys just to make a BIG DIFFERENCE. And, oftentimes, used up their money along the way. Of course, I believe that there is no such thing as free lunch. But…
We are not only missing out on the best things in life – the free things – we’re wasting money too, money we have had to work hard for.
The more I look into radical ways of helping the poor, the more I find that there are lots of ways of caring for ourselves in simple ways – ways which are usually much less expensive too.
If we can save money by helping others, then, maybe we can work a little less hard and have more free time for all the best things in life.
In my own life I am trying to become more involve in poverty alleviation. I believe we all have a vested interest in doing so but I don’t really believe in bullying or guilt-tripping people into being radical–that: Hey Guys! There are poor people out there, they need us.
It’s more like a personal journey that can be entertaining and fun – so I hope that this blog reflects this sense of enjoyment. Becoming radical is always fun!
Research and trial and error
Well, hopefully not too many errors!
I am actually involve and doing most of the contents, rants and tips that I find and promote on the site.
I also research information quite carefully and use a wide variety of reputable sources, such as the Grameen Bank Foundation, CGAP, Asian Development Bank and other organizations. I believe that my information is very trustworthy.
However, if you believe that any piece of information on the site is incomplete, incorrect or misleading please contact me and share your concern.
Please, feel free to contact me.
Remember the adage: “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”?
There is a third reason for the web site which is also important to me. I think that many “pro-poor” sites are quite hard to find your way around.
Some of the issues are also immensely controversial and mostly are scholarly works and researches, so it isn’t surprising that the web sites get huge and complex. There is so much detail, so many issues that it is hard to get a simple overview of the problems facing us.
Many of the excellent new sites which are springing up are what I call “institutional” sites. There is great topical info but finding an overview, of the issues can be hard.
On this site I try to give a straightforward, broad overview of many of the issues. The risk is that I will go too far that way and err on the side of being simplistic!
I’m not for a moment attempting to replace what the large sites do. Rather I’m trying to complement their activities with a simple, straightforward, boiled-down-to-essence sort of approach.
I hope to be able to provide concise and accurate information about the different issues, making it easy for people to be involve in poverty alleviation and make lifestyles out of helping the poor.
Comments or questions?
If you have any comments about the site or questions please fill in the form here. Rest assured, I will always answer the best that I can.