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.
Some 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.
I 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.