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Poverty and Survival (part 4)

In the previous article I wrote about all the poor and unemployed Filipinos and how some do not like to work. In this installment I will discuss how some unemployed find was to earn money to support their families.

One of the problems in Davao is parking, especially in places downtown. Few businesses have parking and many of the ones that do have parking limit it to only their customers which is understandable. Well, when I have been downtown, you will see men out in the road pointing to a parking spot. They will help guide you into your spot and then keep an eye on your car while you’re out doing your business. When you return, he will guide you out of the spot so you do not hit the vehicle behind you and will watch for oncoming traffic. Then you give them 5-15 pesos for their help.

At the public market, again parking is hard to find. There are a few areas for parking and each of these areas is manned by an attendant. He will wave to you to wait or where to park. Since many curbs are high, he will watch the front so you do not crash your bumper. For this we give him 15 pesos which is the normal parking fee here. We always park in the same area and have gotten to know him to joke with. I do not know but I assume he has to give a percentage to the management of the market.

At the market, there are many that will walk around the mall selling bags of calamansistreet-vendors-2, a small lime type of fruit used as a condiment, garlic, small shallot type onions. Most are sold by your children to help make money for their meals and snacks during the week when at school. These children will also offer to help a shopper carry their bags. We have 2 little girls that will help us and through them we have met some of their friends at the market.
At intersections, besides the beggars you will see people selling small bags of peanuts or a “taho” which is a warm chocolate beverage with sago beads which is either made from soy beans or tapioca.taho

There are also people selling small towel squares which many people put under their shirts by their necks to help absorb perspiration and protect their clothing. Many use this too when riding the jeepneys or walking to hold over their nose because of all the vehicle exhaust.

There is one young man we see often at one of the intersections. He looks like he might have Cerebral Palsy. Instead of just begging as many disabled do, but he will walk up, look for leaves in your windshield wiper well, or bird droppings on the window or hood and will clean them. We will give him 5 or 10 pesos. This man, even though it is not a major service, at least he is offering a small service to earn a little money.

Another way some make income is by selling fruit. Filipinos like to eat oranges and grapes for a healthy snack. By many of office buildings or areas where there is a good flow of foot traffic you will see men with bags of oranges or grapes selling them to passersby’s. They sometimes will walk by cars when stopped at a light. One will stop by and say hello and ask if I want to buy grapes. Unfortunately when I see him I am having coffee to kill some time before I head out to some meeting and do not want to leave fruit in the car to heat up during the day. I talked to him one day, he is in his mid 20’s, married with one child and supports the family with this business.
Filipinos eat 5 to 6 times a day. Their meals are usually lighter and smaller than we usually eat in the States. For many it is a plate of rice with some fish, meat or vegetables. Because of this they have snack or marinda about 10am and again around 3pm. During the mid mornings and afternoons you will see mainly ladies, but sometimes men with a carryall with some type of cake or bread for sale and some with banana-q which is a fried, sugar coated banana on a stick. These people buy their wares from a bakery or vendor and go office to office selling them at break times.

Another way of making money is finding in garbage or buying plastic, corrugated boxes, metal, wires, broken fans and even car batteries. You will see men pushing push carts or carts welded to the front of a bicycle. They will go down residential streets either calling out that they are buying or stopping at garbage containers looking for items to sell. Some is sold to scrap businesses or with broken fans and appliances to locations that fix and resell them. Many things we would throw away in America, here they will repair.

Another big business you see here is selling cell phone loads. Most people here do not buy a monthly cell phone service. Instead you buy a load. Either a load card for a set amount where you send a message to a number and with the activation code in the text or an E-load where the vendor sends a load from their “Load wallet” to give you amount you paid for. You can buy as little as 5 pesos which would be good for 5 text messages to the same cell carrier to as high as 500 pesos. With a 500 peso load you get 85 free texts. With this, you will see stores, kiosks in the mall to a street vendor in a crude wooden stand covered with banners displaying which cell carrier they sell loads for. The profit is very small, but with Filipinos living with their cell phone in their hand and constantly texting, they constantly need a load.

You will also see these crude wooden stands selling anything from foods, candies, loads, beverages. These stands usually pay no rent and someone sits all day just waiting for customers.

These people are not rich and earn very little profit, but these people are at least trying to earn enough to support themselves and/or their families instead of begging.

19 Responses to “Poverty and Survival (part 4)”

  1. Evelyn says:

    In General Santos City, Bruce, if you go to the public market,you will see young children who would help you find and guide you to a parking area.. we pay 3-5 pesos..because if you don’t give them, they will try to remember your car and then the next time you park, poor car will be mutilated…
    there is a so called child labor law but i think again in the Phil it is not implemented…

    • Bruce says:

      I agree there should be child labor laws protecting them from sweat shops and such.
      Kids at the market here are nice and respectful and trying to make some pesos to help there family or to buy their meals.
      In America kids would mow lawns, or if in a snow environment, shovel walks for neighbors. I feel there is nothing wrong with that.

  2. Riza says:

    You have a very good and keen observation about your surroundings, and since a Filipino’s lifestyle is diverse, you still hit the bulls eye in terms of the generality of it (I hope I said that right LOL). I like how you lay down your thoughts about how Pinoy live. It’s really interesting to know that somehow, someone not Filipino-skinned is giving us justice. I want to share to you this lyric in a song, written by one of our famous song writer here, Ryan Cayabyab, the title is Paraiso, originally performed by a young group called Smokey Mountain…it said “This tired and hungry land could expect some truth and hope and respect, from the rest of the world.” Thank you very much. I’m glad I found your site.

    • Bruce says:

      I try to share my observations and thoughts. I am happy when a Filipino supports my observations and not feel I am insulting their country. Thank you for following my site and helping me know your country.

  3. julie says:

    sir bruce, you are very observant person. you describe every detail of the scenario you have observed & experienced. I guess you’ve started to embrace Filipino lifestyles hahaha…that’s why you’re married to a Filipina. regards to ma’am elena sir.

    • Bruce says:

      I try to write as honestly as I can to describe life here from what I observe. Sometimes the truth is difficult to understand but it is what I see.

  4. Billy Escobar says:

    I remember my past couple trips back to the motherland. You see the most beautiful of things and the most heart breaking sights ever. Being poor is bad but being poor in a third world country is terrible. I’ve seen them all and walk through them ghettos, slums and Projects. Right now Detroit is resembling a 3rd world country.

  5. Per says:

    Another big income is loaning out money. The interest is high. Or loaning out food “selling by credit”.
    As I discussed with my friend in Davao about how she could make a living that I would sponsor, she suggested making foods and sell by credit. I refused. I said that this system of loaning and selling by credit is not safe for her (if the person cant pay today, what says s/he can pay in 2 weeks?) and that it is part of what keep poverty going (constant in-debt). Id rather she would work as a cam-girl than perpetuate poverty by this loaning system. But since she didnt want to work as a cam-girl, it ended up that she bought some pigs and opened a rice field. 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      Many small businesses that give credit have some type of enforcer to collect. Other times, if they are neighbors, the shame of not repaying will make them cover the payment. The 5/6 lenders have a strong arm for collections. I have heard, ff it is documented, the lender can go to the Barangay Captain and he will go with you. If they cannot pay, you can take something of equal value fro their home.

      • Per says:

        Thanks for the info. OK, so maybe its “safe” that she could get her money back, but my main objection is that it perpetuates poverty, as people are kept in constant debt, and I dont want to contribute to that. I didnt send her money to prey off others, but to make her and her families life better by productive income.
        Anyhow, now she has 5 piglets a sow and a rice field. You should see the smile on her face, when she got the piglets! 🙂
        Also, my other thought with the pigs and rice field is that even if they cant sell much and earn much money, there will always be food to eat. I will talk with her about expanding it with some foul.

        • Bruce says:

          With the pigs, it probably all read smells fowl. (had to put that joke)
          You sound like a good man and have found people to learn from you and have a better life because of your guidance. I commend you.

  6. Almon says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I am glad you made this website. I feel more closer to my homeland. Yes, I was born and raised in Davao City. We immigrated here in the US way back August of 2000 and never been home until now. I miss all the things I used to do there like bar hopping, karaoke bars, eating in bbq places, etc. I believe there are a lot of changes already. Because it was my childhood dream to come to america, well I say life is very good here but you have to work for it. I am thinking to go home and retire there someday. But I will not wait until I am in the 60’s. Perhaps maybe when I am 50 so I can still enjoy the rest of my life. Thats 10 more years….I will be visiting Davao maybe next year. Which part in davao City are you living?

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. Pass me along to your friends. I too know how it is missing things you had avaliable for years of life. I live in the Bajada area. I hope if you visit, you will contact me and we can swap stories.

  7. Almon says:

    Thanks for that quick reply. Good you are living not too far from where I grew up. My childhood place is in Mandug. Actually our family house is still there. My Mom is the little mayor there or what they call Chairman. If you happen to go to Palos Verdes to play golf,you can see the barangay hall along the way. She is so dedicated to serve in our community. I cant even ask her to visit here in California, she always say that the people needs her there… cant wait to visit davao, do you believe that there are lots of nights that I have been dreaming that I was there. I am planning to work on schedule where I can be here in the US for 6 weeks then go home there in Davao for 3 weeks days off. Yah man!! I have to meet you when I am there…Hows the red horse beer and the san migs?? I miss the bagaybay and the native chicken bbq..

    • Bruce says:

      I have not been to Palos Verde. I have my clubs, but have not played golf for about 12 years. Need to go to driving range to see if I can hit a ball. The San Mig and Red horse is fine as my friends say. My drink of choice is 7&7 with Seagrams 7. Unfortunately they sell everything but Rye Whiskey in Davao, so I just drink my cokes. Native chicken BBQ, anorexic chickens. 3 Bites and your dine. hahaha

      • Almon says:

        There you go! I hope they sell crown royal or wild turkey. I like those with coke on it. did you like the kinilaw/tuna? I can make some of those here if Costco or albertsons have some fresh ones. cheers man..

        • Bruce says:

          I do not know about Wild Turkey, but they have Bourbon here, but no Rye Whiskey. No Crown Royal, or any Seagrams product. They do not even have any Canadian Whiskey such as Canadian Club. I like sushi grade, thin sliced tuna, but not a fan of the chunky tuna in Kinilaw. I will eat it, but do not care for the chewiness.

  8. Almon says:

    I can imagine you are sitting in one of the internet cafe or cafe restaurant either victoria plaza ao in gaisano mall??
    or maybe they already have other malls there…it was not too crowded way back in 2000. One thing I remember is the karaoke bars open until 2am then go to colasas bbq or eat bolalu soup. Do went out like 5 times a week a year before my flight to the US. because I believe my life will change at the time I will start a new life in the USA…it turn my world around when I arrived here in the US, but it was my childhood dream to come here in the US, so I have to deal with it. As I said, I will still comeback and retire in the Philippines.

    • Bruce says:

      There are 5 major malls here now, plus a few little ones. The newest is SM mall in Ecoland, then there is NCCC Mall at the intersection of Maa and MacArthur. There is Gaisano Illustre downtown. Giasano South and Victoria in the Bajada area. There is a new Robinsons Cybergate, but it is just a strip mall with a market. Ayala is building a huge business center and mall across from Emcor on J.P. Laural. And talk of a SM mall where the old Lanang Country Club was.

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