This was a particularly interesting Friday. Myk and JR, Fils (and KPCer’s) from Toronto, and some foriegners that were volunteering in Manila were interested in visiting some urban poor areas to see how a vast number of their fellow Filipinos lived.

We started went a visit to the Samakana Center in Bitas, Tondo. Next to the housing complex where it’s located is a slaughter house, we are told to listen for the occasional gunshot.

On the other side of the rooftop where the center has it’s library and conducts activities we could view a twin building just like it (these were actually some of the better homes in the area), and past that is the original Smokey Mountain. To the upper right is “government” housing. When someone in our group commented “it’s beautiful” one of the community workers sarcastically replied “ya, on the outside.”

The stairwell was a precarious one with lots of rusted out gaps and makeshift repairs using scrap metal.

Live flies sat on all the electrical lines spiderwebed above. They were literally everywhere, hundreds, if not more.

Coming into the relocated “Smokey Mountain” garbage dump we saw this truck leaving with some dump “employees.”

“Do you want to see the future of the Filipino people,” asked the guy smoking the cigarette. He gestured back, “It’s right there.

The dump has been the home to countless numbers of poor for as long as I can remember.

Some area info:
– Ave daily wage at SM P100.
– Most unemployed in the area. Most jobs of lower status like vendors, pedicab drivers, and then there are those that live and work in the dump.
– many kids dont go to school for lack of funds (transport, school ‘contributions’ eg. have to pay for test papers P15+)
– of those that go to school, most are boys
– few finish up to highschool, fewer college, even if grad from college still the prob of finding work in Phils (they say diff without a “backer”) many try to find work overseas.
– government housing charges a min of P700/mo. rent, higher if not a relocatee (if applied to live there rather than made to live there). The bright colours are courtesy of GK. When someone in our group commented “it’s beautiful” one of the community workers sarcastically replied “ya, on the outside.”

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Right after the dump a few of us went to a rally marking the seven years of the GMA regime. Later at the march a line of cops with shields and batons refused to let ralliers put flowers on the EDSA shrine and even said to the nun and priest in front who asked them to move back one step so that they could lay them on the sidewalk “Please, don’t make us do something.”

* * * * *

Right after that the earlier group got back together, met up with a friend of JRs, and went out to Mogwai’s, Cubao Expo.

This one of my last days in Manila, it was a full one. It is always a sad day when I leave the Phils. I know I’ll be back sooner rather than later…