“A man willing to work and unable to find work is perhaps the saddest sight that fortunes inequality exhibits under this sun” — Thomas Carlyle
Many a time, I would encounter horde of men on the street calling and waving to every passenger. These men are the so-called barkers who literary bark and usher commuters for a specific jeepney route. On every stop, there they are racing and struggling so they can have an equal portion of their effort because every person they have ushered corresponds to a certain Peso.
I bet most of us, especially the commuters, had seen handful of them. Morning— in the middle of the day— or even at night they tire out their body on the street as if it was the highest paying job ever. Dedicated, that’s how they are, not minding how cruel it is to be on the road with the impending dangers that awaits them. From the unforeseen accidents that they may come across with or with the perils of smog they take more gulps of down to their lungs, I myself can’t agree more that they’re like a suicide bomber imposing harm on themselves.
This scene is not shocking though, especially in a country inflicted with infuriating ailment called poverty. A reeking disease caused by those brazen officials in the Government that drives its people to the limit making them to be innovative if not practical particularly on finding means of survival to where these ingenious Jeepney barkers who initiated to have self supporting jobs— fit in.
It is somewhat poignant to live in a place where insufficiency thrives, where people make do of what is available and have no power to outdo that kind of situation and just gripe over it, instead. That place perhaps is my country, the Philippines. Unlike other countries where they can provide the most basic needs a man is looking for a desirable country like job opportunities, better housing programs and other things that benefit its constituents are things my country often misses.
Consider such situation of barkers, who were out of school youths, uneducated fathers or even “tambay” of all sorts who at times are unclothed and lacking of refinement. They can’t find a job a decent one because they were deprived of the most important thing that the government should endow to people— education. People who settle for barking as source of their livelihood came from the marginalized sector of our society, those we consider as “isang-kahig-isang- tuka” type of people who never got the chance to be schooled. Because, to study is just a dream for them too far from reality or just another burden which may hinder them to eat three meals a day.
Sometimes it got me thinking, that maybe those people who are like dogs that bark on the street, holler purposely to be heard by those seemingly deaf and emotionally unresponsive people in the government. Oh, what a pity to be deprived of things which are essential in life. How a man, an ever industrious man could find ways making both ends meet if the job (should I say job) he has can’t even afford a sumptuous meal for his family.
Barking or the job of a barker as viewed by many are for people who are indolent as they’re doing an unimportant task that even without them, drivers can still manage to run well. What’s the use of signboard, anyway? True at some point but did it ever occur on you, that instead of staying at home waiting for that precious guava to fall on their mouths as what’s being depicted on Juan tamad’s story or instead of declaring hold –up to a nearby bank for an easy money, there they are at the street burning themselves in exchange for one peso coin.
I’d rather call them victim than accuse them of being a sloth, victim of the so called political avarice that consumes the one who is seated in the desk of power; the powerful ones who by virtue were tasked to help uplift the lives of the disadvantaged masses but because of greed have turned their backs on and succumbed to be milking them, instead.
Once in my trip going home, I have had a chance to talk with a jeepney driver and happened to bump upon a topic which is barking. He began with a slight irritation on his face while divulging his utter dismay against the barker. They consider them as a competitor in business that sometimes they engage in a feud involving money. The driver cited that if only these sun-drenched fellows may be given the chance to find a job on which they will not look like a parasite sucking money from them in exchange for a trivial service, then, things will flow even better. Drivers to some extent are mad and sympathetic at times. They compulsorily dish out fraction of their income to the barkers, inadvertently believing as if these things were under normal scenario.
Jobs — especially here in the Philippines are like diamonds, though many will object but I have witnessed it to be factual. Many of us settle for less, trying to be okay with a profession not even related with what we have studied back in College. More so with those people who never had the chance to be acquainted with what we call school, they will never end up having that diamond. Thus I pity the barkers who are deprived, undervalued and even unrecognized by the authorities who were capable of changing their lives.
I’ve known a barker before whose name is Alvin and like many others, he felt as if he was anesthetized by the worsening scenario of our country. Often I would hear him saying “Let it be” three words that convey an utter hopelessness, of giving up and acceptance that things will remain perpetually that way.
Now I have one say to the government: Fuel a change or let those barkers be like dogs forever.