Editorial: Dignity and value

THE Department of Education (DepEd)-Davao was taken aback by SunStar Davao's report exposing how the student athletes participating in the Palarong Pambansa had to make do with cartons as floormats for lack of accommodation amenities in the rooms they were assigned to in San Jose de Buenavista in Antique Province.

That's par for the course, it seems. A throwback to how it has always been, with the concerned agency being the last one to know about situations on the ground. With the news published Wednesday, April 19, DepEd-Davao rushed to explain what is happening. That's good.

Except that what is unacceptable is the fact that such situation is expected, with many of those commenting on the photo uploaded in SunStar Davao Facebook account saying the children are not true-blue athletes if they do not experience that.

This points to one fact: historical negligence.

We are being made to believe that in order to be athletes you have to live like paupers, sleeping on carton sheets for beddings.

No wonder we cannot even get one gold medal in Olympics. With such loser mindset, it will take a superhero ten times over to finally get a gold medal.

That this mentality is within the education system is more appalling.

The uproar is not because the children were not given five-star accommodations, but because the children were not even provided a simple bed, or even just a simple mattress. And what are the excuses being bandied around? That San Jose de Buenavista is a municipality and not a city. Again, the loser-mindset rears its ugly head.

This is not about making children become tough by making them sleep on the floor. This is about looking at them as talents that have to be nurtured. It is looking at their potentials and seeing the value in them. Even the poor who have a roof above their heads do not even use cartons to sleep on, they invest on woven mats, they have blankets and pillows. These are things of value, things they gift themselves with and take care for years.

That is the value of each family member, who deserves a blanket, pillow, and sooner or later, a real mattress.

The education system seems unable to comprehend that, and just because athletes have been made to sleep on the floor for generations now, then every athlete must sleep on the floor for generations to come.

No wonder we can only cheer one athlete per lifetime. We are even hanging on to Senator Manny Pacquiao even as he has buoyed our spirits for over a decade now; a very rare superhuman feat. When we should be as a nation nurturing talents to bring them to their greatest potential, we look instead to the poor boys that make it to the world arena on their own and claim them as our athlete and pin our pride on them. There's a word for that: poverty-porn.

We are so attached to poverty that we cannot move beyond it. And so, we make do with one athlete at a time, a wild card, an unexpected miracle. For this one athlete that we revere for over a decade, tens of thousands of other potentials have gone to waste.