Kakha Tuka Tuka Kakha

The people in the barangay (village) of San Vicente in Sumilao, Bukidnon have a very interesting way of defining poverty. It’s not through household income nor poverty statistics, but with a very quaint analogy.

The way they see it, you are either kakha-tuka or tuka-kakha. The former means that you scratch the ground as in a chicken (kakha) before you peck it (tuka). Basically, you have to work hard before you can eat.

To me, it was reminiscent of the Tagalog saying “isang kahig, isang tuka” which literally means one scratch, one peck. It describes a hard life: for every day of hard labor, there is meager food on the table.

However, those who are tuka-kakha have it worse. They peck the ground before they scratch it. This means that they have absolutely nothing, but need to eat first (usually on credit) before they work. This makes them caught more deeply in the cycle of poverty because today’s income has to be used to pay for yesterday’s meal. And you never know when that will be enough.

But the people of San Vicente, bless them, are doing their best to escape this cycle. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a barangay development planning session with participants with as much awareness, enthusiasm and fire as they had!

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