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Poverty and Survival (part 2)


In the first part I mentioned about the lower end housing. This is the people that have some trade or job. Their houses are small with little extras. It is true they do have concrete walls and a roof over their head. They rent or own their home and lot.

There are people that are called “Squatters” These people find a vacant piece of land and construct a shelter. There are also squatters that find a vacant home and just move in and take over.

dsc_0003Some are concrete and look like a normal, but poor housing. Then there are some made from coco lumber framing, either woven bamboo panels or even rusty corrugated panels for walls. The roofs will be corrugated metal thatched grass or even covered with canvas banners previously used for advertising. A lot of these houses have dirt floors, no electricity and no running water. If they have electricity, it might be stolen power taped into someone else’s power feed.

masonry-houseI was once in a neighborhood and there was a thin power line running down the street on the top of bamboo poles. At each residence there was a tap running to their home. The street was unpaved and it had ruts and muddy. Waste water ran down alone the site of the road in shallow trenches, not even the normal drainage canals.

I have seen wood framed structures with canvas banners for wall and roof coverings. Seating outside is wood boxes or rough nailed together benches. Cooking is over a wood fire burning on the ground with a pot above it.

In America and probably in many other countries waterfront property along a river or the ocean is prime real estate. You see large expensive homes or maybe nice fishing cabins. Here it is different, you see squatter areas. The rivers are brown with pollution and where does this go, but into the gulf. I remember driving to the airport in Manila and going over a bridge, along the river you saw squatter homes all pushed together and the garbage and think river scum probably 6 to 12 feet wide along the shore.

There are parts of Davao that has nice neighborhoods. These are subdivisions. They are usually gated with security. And there are neighborhoods that have nice modern homes mixed with very lower class homes.

Now, there is something interesting with squatters. I have not been able to find actual documentation but I have heard something about “Squatters Rights.” This is something about if squatters is on untitled land and someone buys that land to build they have to either relocate the squatters or pay them to move off the land. I heard about a big development planned in Manila. It was to be two large condo buildings with a shopping mall. The developer found the land and was getting ready to start the contracts with engineers and architects. Then they found there were over a thousand squatters living on the land. The cost of relocating all of them was too much so they stopped their plans and started looking for other land.

I have a Filipino friend. He is in his mid 50’s and had a good life, is married and has children. His wife and he had the opportunity with the help of a friend to open a jewelry store and pawn shop. Over time their business increased and they were able to buy a commercial lot and build their own building. There business flourished and life was good. Their children went to college and immigrated to the States. Then one day a problem with his wife. I do not know the details except he moved out. They filed for a legal separation. But here court cases can take years to go in front of a judge. It has been 5 years and it still has not been to court. His wife has control of the house and business and the man now looks for odd jobs or gets help from friends. One day he told me he was locked out of his boarding house for lack of rent payment. For a time he would spend his nights on a piece of cardboard in one of the parks.

This is the plight of many Filipinos. From all the years of this beaten down life, some just live in squatter homes, scrape for survival and have no idea how to move up from the life they have.

The photos are not necessarily squatter houses, just some types of lower cost housing.

Next I will discuss how these families are able to get their money for survival.

10 Responses to “Poverty and Survival (part 2)”

  1. Riza says:

    It was a nice post about your observation, most would think of us as “not knowing how to use toilets” people. Thanks. =)

    • Bruce says:

      I do not think that is correct. The only thing some here do not know how to do is flush without a pail of water. (joke)

      Only taxi drivers perter a wall than a CR.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. Riza says:

    Haha! Well, that’s basing on what I’ve heard from one of our client in the call centers. They even thought that we still live in huts, that’s because they think that we’re a very poor country, but they were surprised to find cars and lots of it on the streets, and skyscrapers are everywhere. You can imagine their disappointment with pedestrians and the traffic! LOL!

    I’ve also added you on my blogroll.

    • Bruce says:


      Well there are ignorant people all over the world, some can even search the internet. hahaha
      Tell them to visit my site.
      Please change me on your blogroll to American in Davao, it is more informative than just Bruce.
      I will add you now too. Thanks.

  3. Alan says:

    The squatter issue is an interesting one . My wife’s father hass squatters on a piece of beach front property he has . LOL 🙂 We once visited some friends of my wife south of Manila where Ayala was building some nice homes . The wife’s relative worked for Ayala and according to him after Ayala paid squatters to move and provided them with a new location the squatters took the money and left ” temporarily ” but just came back to another portion of Ayala land . :-)Sort of ” If you will pay me once why not pay me twice ” . 🙂

  4. laagan says:

    Hi Bruce.

    I would like to thank you for your kind words about my plight. You were absolutely right to say that I have a better life than most people. And I am ashamed to admit that I often forget that. I can be really selfish. Reading this post reminds me of that. I still feel down these days but not as bad as before. I have my faith to thank for that.
    PS. sorry for not visiting your blog also. I have been up to my neck with work these days. This schedule will continue until next week. Gosh…i feel like I am wasting my life 🙂

    Good luck

    • Bruce says:

      Do not apologize, we work hard and when things go wrong or life gets difficult, we think of our lives. No matter how rich, poor, lucky or unlucky we become, there will always be someone better or worse.
      I understand being busy and I am glad you remembered to come back to visit.

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