Back to ‘future’

In 1981, The New York Times published a special titled “Marcos aims a new aid program for the poor.”

It came out on 27 September, page 13 of Section 1.

The article basically said that the World Bank had noted, “despite increases in gross national product averaging six percent yearly in the last decade, some 60 to 70 percent of Filipinos are poor.”

Over 40 years later, the situation is not much changed. People still complain of unequal distribution of wealth, although the biggest difference lies in the fact that the world we live in is, undeniably, much changed.

If we are to revisit futuristic films then and now, we might be tempted to question how these creative minds came up with the concepts for fictional work detailing aspects of our reality today.

A case of projection? The result of collective consciousness?

Who knows?

These past years have made us confront such realities, intensified by the pandemic and its economic effects, and the advent of a war affecting more countries around the world than the two in actual conflict.

Chief among the problems of the world is climate change, followed closely by food security.

They are quite basic: The air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the food we eat. Today, these essentials are in danger.

To put it in another context, we never had to wear masks just to go out of our safe spaces; pretty soon, our 1,100-plus islands could number much less; and we could be facing a shortage of more vegetables, if not a massive spike in prices of food.

These are our realities, and somehow the movie The Voyagers comes to mind at this point.

In this work of fiction, a group of young men and women are sent to outer space to look for a habitable planet, as the Earth was dying.

Climate change advocates have been shouting about this for a long time, but no one seems to be listening. It is not a joke to think about a future where humans may have to “eat” pills designed to nourish the body — certainly not the soul! Pass me the steak, please, er, that slop they are passing off as beef these days.

The signs are upon us. For instance, ever heard of alt-meat?

Just like its nickname, alt-meat refers to alternative or substitute meat. These are made from vegetarian or vegan ingredients.

I recently tried the latest of alt-meat-based fast food, and must commend some of these popular brands for coming up with good-tasting versions.

The Food and Agriculture Organization says in a report that interest in “alternative protien sources has been rising mainly due to changing mindsets. People nowadays are more concerned about their role in a world where there are “growing environmental and ethical concerns around traditional protein production practices.”

Pretty soon, we may have to contend with substitute ingredients for our favorite dishes because supply may become scarce and production may not cover demand.

This means that if the first Marcos president in 1971 said, ‘’The time has come to achieve true economic growth in all its social dimensions,” it is not the same as the second Marcos president saying, “…you cannot build a strong economy unless you have a foundation of a robust agricultural sector, which assures food supply even in emergencies…”

Both target self-sufficiency, but because circumstances are now different, some things will definitely change.

The past yields lessons, but when past realities remain in the present, it only means we have not learned at all.

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