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Poverty and Survival (part3)

I was originally to start writing how some people find ways to make an income but Wildcat left me a comment with a very moving link to a video.

This video showed how someone goes to restaurants to get their food wastes to bring to his family and poor neighbors.

All over Davao and I would guess most cities here you will see beggars. Kids in dirty clothes will come up with their hands out and will make a motion with their other hand to show they are hungry. Many who do not know English will say “Hungry.” You will see older kids or adult women in dirty rags carrying a child in one hand and a hand out in the other.

They walk through the Public markets, across from office buildings and in parking lots. Security Guards will move them away, to return as soon as the guard turns his back. At many intersections kids will walk up tapping on windows with hands out. Most will leave you alone if you wave your hand off or say “Wala” which means nothing. Some will persist looking at you, tugging your clothes or someway to disturb you.

You will see people going through the garbage pails along the road and many evenings going door to door asking for leftovers. Many will stand there calling for a while and will not listen if we tell them we have nothing.

As I mentioned in the past articles there is a high unemployment and over population here in the Philippines and many go hungry every day. The hard part is you cannot help everyone.

There was a time when a beggar girl would approach me when I was out having a cigarette at the mall. She did not ask for money at first. She would sit near and look up at me. After a little while she smiled and I returned the smile. I asked her what her name was and we talked a little. She was 15. She was in worn clothes and very dirty. After a few minutes she said she was hungry and put her hand out. I felt bad and since she did not come up and just beg, I gave her 10 pesos. The next week she came up to me again. As before she smiled and said hello. She sat and did not ask for money at first. Then a few minutes later she put her hand out and said she was hungry. After I gave her 10 pesos she told me she had a baby sister, can I give her money for her too. I was getting upset, but decided to give in and handed her another 10 pesos. Instead of saying thanks, she then told me her birthday was in a few days and would I give her more for a present. This got me angry and, even though she did not understand, I told her she was pushing my kindness and no more. A few weeks later she saw me and approached me again. I remembered her and just waved her off.

There are stories of kids who beg and have to give the money to their father who spends it to get drunk. I do not know this and remember the same stories in America.

There are some people here that do not even want to help themselves. A friend told me of a girl he met, she was 19 and according to him, she was very attractive. Talking to her he found out she lived in a squatter home with her mother and 3 siblings. She told him no one in the family worked. My friend asked her how they survived, how they got food to eat and things needed. She told him they would get help from friends. This friend knew of someone in need of a server in a restaurant and he spoke to his friend about this girl. His friend told him if the girl could pass the easy employment test he would give this girl an advantage in consideration of getting the job. He told this girl about the possible job opportunity. The day the interviews were scheduled the girl sent a text to my friend to tell him she had a bad toothache and could not go to the interview, but the next day sent a text if he would take her out for lunch. He met this girl and she admitted she did not want to work.

I do not know if it laziness or just so many years of surviving without the need to work they have no incentive to work. The only good thing about this girl was my friend thought he could get the girl to go home with him for some “private” time and he would pay her. Her answer was she was a virgin and would not go home with him. At least she had some morals.

There are charities and foundations here to help, but there is never enough help for everyone. Then there are some I wonder if help was offered would be willing to improve their lives.

I heard of another story about how the city government wanted to help the squatters. They built some low cost housing and moved some families from the squatter area near the river and gave them homes. Part of the agreement was they had to live there for 2 years and then would get the title to the house and lot. Two years later most of these families sold their house and lot and moved back to the squatter area.

There have been articles and discussions I have heard that families have many children with the though the more children they have the more income will be generated in years to come to help support the elders. This is fine since there is no real retirement support here in the Philippines. There are some pensions from the Social Security System, but it is small and only for those who worked the jobs that paid into the fund.

But the homeless and squatter types are having babies that they cannot feed or support and then begging to help them. I found this at the World Health Organization website.

Total population: 86,264,000
Gross national income per capita (PPP international $): 3,430
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 64/71
Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2003): 57/62
Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 32
Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 277/157
Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2006): 223
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): 3.3
Figures are for 2006 unless indicated. Source: World Health Statistics 2008

Here is the same statistics for the United States to compare.
Total population: 302,841,000
Gross national income per capita (PPP international $): 44,070
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 75/80
Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2003): 67/71
Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 8
Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 137/80
Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2006): 6,714
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): 15.3
Figures are for 2006 unless indicated. Source: World Health Statistics 2008

Some do try to help. I was at a Barangy office one day. While we were there I noticed outside many children starting to congregate near the office. First I thought it was to look at the “Foreigner” in the office but that was not the case. Every afternoon the Barangy brings a quantity of Congee. That is a type of rice porridge. Kids would come up with a bowl and they would give it out to all. This is something good to help, but congee is just sodium and carbohydrates but no vitamin or mineral content and very little protein. So what does this do besides fill their hungry stomachs?

Is there an answer? A cure? I do not know, but I do know with the world in such a financial crisis there will be less donations and it will be more difficult for what ever is already being done to continue and grow in such assistance.

45 Responses to “Poverty and Survival (part3)”

  1. Very good article. This is a very complex problem that I have studied a lot. I have a lot of big city experience. I have spent a considerable amount of times slums in Manila, Jakarta, Saigon and many others. I agree with most of the things you said, and I am also feeling sad for this people especially now in the crisis, those will suffer even more. I just lost my job now, I am the negotiating process now. When I watch this moving movie I realize how good life I have. My wish is to do something to help. If the job pays me just living and eating, I would consider doing some kind of charity work for a while.

    • Bruce says:

      Sorry you lost your job. First is to find employment to you can fulfill your dream or retiring here. Once here you can start your foundation to help.

  2. Evelyn says:

    the video is so touching…
    but like what you said it is so hard to help people when they themselves don’t want to be helped..
    they just want to beg and don’t want to work for it..
    they just want easy money..
    i think one of the contributing factors is because of population explosion…
    why would they make babies when they know they could not afford to raise the kids?
    hello to elena

    • Bruce says:

      Like I have mentioned in the past and you know, many families think the more kids the better they will be provided for in old age.
      I feel China had the right idea of limiting families to 1 0r 2 kids.

  3. Evelyn says:

    i just hope we will have that law also in the philippines limiting the children to— how about one or nothing?

    • Bruce says:

      None? First the need to get more people using birth control. I know men hate conduces and I doubt if women would use birth control pills. I do not know if they are even avaliable here. You always hear of girls being “single Moms.” I know young have hormones raging and guys always find a way to make a girlfriend guilty if they do not have sex.
      If the country would like to control the population, they need to educate and have birth control avaliable for all, even the poor.

  4. That is right Bruce. Birth control and education is trhe right way. Birth control pills is widely available at least in the cities in the Philippines, but as you know there is a catholic perspective to it. I am not against religion, but when the head of a certain religion tells the people not to use prevention, I feel like I want to puke. Me myself bought birth control for my then pinay girlfriend in a pharmacy in Naga, Luzon in July 2007. So I know it is easily available ;-). About my job, the unions are strong here, I didnt really lose it yet. Negotiations at the moment. I have a lot of default rights, and when the union found out there are several people employed after me, they get really pissed. Will tell you more later when this is all over.

    • Bruce says:

      Unfortunately with the religious strength and control over this country, I doubt it will happen, also with the poverty, I doubt if ladies or families would spend the money on the pills. The government would not support such a thing with the Church having so much say. So over population will never stop here.

  5. I know, but I answered the question about the availability. Nothing will change. I would like to see the sells records of these articles in the Philippines.

  6. Evelyn says:

    education on birth control?of course we have those but after education nada(nothing)….we lack the power of application i guess..because of the “bahala na attitude”,”hiya”and a lot more..i can’t supply you the other terms right now … there is no support group etc etc….there are not enough lecturers, not enough volunteers to help…
    bahala na=means come what may, who cares,i don’t care,no planning
    hiya=shame,embarrass, shy???(embarrass to buy those birth control pills i guess, embarrass to attend lectures on this???i don’t know— but everything boils down to poverty

    • Bruce says:

      This is true. Also your right about the “bahala na” attitude. I have heard of many girls getting pregnant, the boyfriend runs to the hills or doubts his involvement and then the girls family just accepts it as another mouth to feed.

  7. Evelyn, I agree and I already know about the terms hiya and bahala na. You are right about this.

  8. Evelyn says:

    thanks for agreeing with me, Mr Stefan Lindholm of SWEDEN..I read your commentary and you said you used birth control with your then pinay gf?OH NO,i thought one of our traits is mahiyain “hiya”????and 90% of filipinos are devoted catholics and it is a big sin to have premarital sex for devout catholics..what’s this?????hahahaha..well this can be a good topic for our dear friend,bruce, to talk about in his next blog..
    anyway, rapid population is one of the causes of poverty.i suggest,bruce, that there should be campaign awareness on birth spacing and responsible parenthood…

    • Bruce says:


      You are so right. But there is religion and then there are hormones and boyfriends pressuring with something like “If you love me…..”
      It is not always poverty, I think it is more lust and the need to feel loved.
      I also agree about awareness campaign, but being a “Foreigner” I will stay away from political areas.

  9. Evelyn, I you believe that all young people are staying away from premarital sex, then I am not sure I agree with you on that one :-). It would be easier if premarital people never had sex. Then they wouldnt need preventives at all, hehe. Then, what is the hiya about using it in married couples? Moneywise many cant afford it so that is one of the reasons and, here comes the big one, the pope is preaching about not using it. Hypocricy at a high level if you ask me! Now we’re sliding into another hot topic, hehe. Whether it is against the catholic church or not to use preventatives.

    • Bruce says:

      I have strong feelings about the Church rulings and then not willing to help when their flock listens. They say not to use contraceptives, but then if a family has too many kids and cannot feed them, and go to the Church for help, they get a “you should have thought about that before you made so many children.”

  10. Riza says:

    You know, this story of yours hit home. I’m a solo parent, and not only that, I’m what you can consider an orphan, I have a family but they’re very distant from me (family issues). Since shuttling from work to my children has been hard for me, I stopped working and tried my “future” with working home base, as an independent contractor for those who need a VA. Just recently, I lost a client and my two weeks of work that I’m expecting wasn’t paid. I’m still not getting any news from the other applications that I passed and the ones that I applied for in craigslist. My current source? my american boyfriend. To be honest with you, I’m more worried of losing him because of thinking that I’m relying on him more than I’m looking after myself. One of the many issue that I had is I’m not really a college graduate and although I obtained some, its not enough with what they require nowadays. There were also times when I’m contemplating being an “escort” but of course, I have kids,I can’t afford the humiliation. But anywho, I hope that those jobs that I sent application to, turn around. ^^” Thanks for sharing this.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for sharing such a personal story about yourself. I think you are lucky to have a boyfriend who cares enough to help you and I know, from reading your blog, you will get through this and be a better person and a better parent from this trial in your life.
      A college degree just gets you in the door for an interview. I worked as an Architectural Computer Draftsman for the last 15 years of my employed life and the last few years made a higher salary than co-workers that were licensed architects. Hard work and open to learning on the job and out of work can raise your position in many occupations.

      • Riza says:

        Life experiences is what I have that I can share right now :). But what you said is true, I’ve lined up on interview with people who graduated from top universities and there was an experience that from 1000 applicants, only two of us passed! I’ve worked with one of the top call centers here in the Philippines. Sadly, because of my lates and absenteeism, has tarnished my record that my eligibility for rehire wasn’t granted. I guess, I will just have to wait a little bit more and make the most of my time with my children until they are able to really take care of themselves so I can go and look for work outside the house. Thanks again.

  11. Bruce,
    “I have strong feelings about the Church rulings and then not willing to help when their flock listens. They say not to use contraceptives, but then if a family has too many kids and cannot feed them, and go to the Church for help, they get a “you should have thought about that before you made so many children.””

    Spot on!

  12. Evelyn says:

    bruce, i know that this is a debatable topic..
    life is really sooo hard in the PHIL..
    unlike here that you can easily land a job be it as a waitress, store clerk,cashier ,caregiver (like me)and house cleaning jobs…
    my employer has a cleaning lady and she worked for him for like 20 yrs or so now..once a week ,she comes here and cleans the house and after 2 hrs viola,,she gets $60..she’s from guatemala..we use sign language most of the time because she speaks little english and i speak broken english..hahahaha

    • Bruce says:

      As long as families pop out babies without any responsiblity to have the income to support them and an economy build to keep the rich rich and the poor and working class below minimum needs, nothing will change.

  13. Alan says:

    Great article Bruce but i think the stats provided are way out of date . I don’t say that to criticize you of course since they aren’t yours anyway . But every current population estimate i see now is in the 90 – 92 million range .

    On – line article in Manila Times says the Filipina family now must earn close to half a million peso yearly to ” stay ” in middle class . Given that the ” middle class ” is less than 20% of the population and the ” rick ” are ( ? ) % what does that say for the ” poor ” ? Probably in the 60 – 70 % range .

    Our housekeeper has 5 children including one 6 months old and no husband and no support . The people on the lot behind us can’t afford their 1500 a month share for electric and water so what does the ” boyfriend do ? He makes another baby to go along with the 3 he already can’t support . 🙂

    I don’t know what the answer is for this society but for sure there are no easy or fast solutions .

  14. Riza says:

    Bruce, I will add you to my other blog. Call Center Kitty. I’m redesigning it. 🙂

  15. Evelyn says:

    True enough,bruce, that is why parents should think twice or even 10 times before they would think of adding another mouth to feed..And i strongly suggest that a law should be passed about limiting children to one or nothing for the next 20 years..hahahaha

  16. macky says:

    nice work, bruce. i too share your sentiments about the church.

    an interesting tidbit, since it is related. there is actually a bill in the house called Reproductive Health Bill. it deals with proper govt funding regarding family planning services & education.

    the church, as expected, is opposed to this bill. but there may actually be enough support to get this bill to see the light of day.

    we all know what we see on the surface about moral conduct, church rules & sexuality don’t really apply to what is actually happening in the real world in the philippines.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your response. I am happy when I hit a controversial subject from an American mentality and get agreement from Filipinos.
      Even if the bill passes, will it change anything? We all know laws and Church doctrines are observed when convenient. Also lust trumps all.

  17. Bruce says:

    I wonder how many children are planned instead of being a product of making love. Since no contraceptives are used I doubt if a couple say “Lets make a child tonight”

  18. Al says:

    Bruce, this is not unique to the Philippines. It is very common, however. Kids are being maimed in India so that they beg for some syndicate-for life. If you see a person who’s blind in one or both eyes or missing an arm or a leg and begging in a street corner, you now know why. A poll of homeless people in several shelters in Minnesota was made asking the homeless if they have looked for a job. The vast majority didn’t want to work because they have housing, food and government assistance. A panhandler in Atlantic city was making more money (up to $4,000/week) panhandling so why should he work? Human nature. There are people who will take the path of least resistance no matter how degrading in order to survive.

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.
      I have heard about India and it was shown in “Slum Dog Millionaire”
      I know from myself, when I was out of work and could not find decent work, the depression caused me to just survive and give up looking for a while.

  19. macky says:

    not sure if you read this. it’s a few days ago:

    on your remarks about enforcing a family planning program in the philippines. i think it’s doable. there’s enough doctors & professionals who are aware of the issues. if there is funding & backing from a supportive local government, then it can work.

    in high school, there was a local doctor who would visit class & lecture about HIV prevention & information. the school was ateneo, & yet they were supportive then.

    plus, you have non-sectarian universities like the University of the Philippines system. They will support this.

    The young & educated are already active in using forms of birth control, so it is a matter of funding & support from the higher ups without fear of losing church support for their re-elections.

    • Bruce says:


      I hope there is a way to get it done. I hope the reality and rationalization of such a need goes through. The need to improve the Philippines and quality of life is surely needed as is industry and jobs are needed.

  20. Tigulang says:

    First of all I wish to chastise you for even posting the comment about your friend offering money to a 15 year old girl for services. This is sick not to mention being illegal and I would question your selection of friends.

    To the subject—Yes , there are way too many people living in the Philippines for their economy to support. The movers and shakers in the government are well aware of this fact. They even promote teaching skills that are needed abroad in hopes of creating more OFW’s. The percentage of the Philippines GNP OFW’s create with their investments and remittences tells it all.

    The problem is twofold. The biggest problem is the Catholic church. Their anitquated views on birth control , abortion and large families prevent prosperity in all but the upper classes. These religious beliefs and teachings play right into the hands of the other problem , The Movers and Shakers , the wealthy class. By keeping the supply ( people ) higher than the demand ( jobs ) The people are kept poor and stand no chance of ever changing things. Keeping the people poor also keeps then in control. How are the M&S able to accomplish this? By controlling every segment of the Philippine society. They control or own the majority of the big businesses and industry. They are the government office holders or control puppets placed in or elected to positions making decisions and laws that favor the upper classes. They have it sewed up lock , stock and barrel.

    A perfect example. Maintaing the wealth of the upper class insures their continued control over the country and their power over the common people. This is accomplished by laws of protectionism. As long as they own and control everything , their success is guarenteed. So , what do they do? They pass laws that will eliminate competition. You might ask how can poor Filipino’s compete with the rich? They can’t. At least not without some sort of outside help. The protectionist law that was passed stiffeled foreign investments in the country. The law that kills almost every chance a poor person has of bettering themselves and spreading the wealth and power around to the all of the people prevents foreign investers from owning and having a controlling interest over their investments by stating , NO foreigner may own a controlling interest in any company located in the Philippines PERIOD!!!! It is pretty common knowledge to anyone who knows anything about the Philippines that the workforce pool is a bottomless pit. Hundreds of thousands would gladly go to work in a factory that offered decent wages. What IDIOT , What FOOL or what company would make any kind of sizable investment in a company they had no control over? As long as this law remains on the books , there will never be any meaningful change and the M&S will be in control.

    Protectionist policies at their best–or worst , depending on how you look at it.

    Back in the early 2000’s I was a member of an upstart forum primarily made up of Filipino’s who lived in the states , both male and female and white males married to Pinay’s. There are now many Filipino members from around the world including many from the home country. Those of us ( white males ) who had traveled to the Philippines and had seen the living conditions of far too many over there decided to brainstorm and come up with a way in which to help. It was decided that we would propose to the Philippine government , the creation of a stand alone business venture with no government interference at the same time abiding by their commerce laws. The plan was to have the U.S. at the instance of the Philippine government , initiate a special income tax on all Philippine immigrants to the U.S. Not OFW’s. The tax rate was to be 5% and only for the first five years after their arrival. The money was to be used for setting up a factory in the Philippines and manned by Filipino’s. The management team was to be made up of both experienced Americans and Filipino’s who had lived and worked in the U.S. for at least 10 years and had gained knowledge and experience on how things worked in America. The intent was to get the first factory up an running and making a profit. The next step would be to promote from within giving workers a chance move up the ladder. The profits made along with the continued tax support would be used to start the second factory and the third and forth and the hope was that this would snowball into hundreds if not thousands of factories and jobs for the masses. The hope was that these factories once profitable and being run by Filipino’s would be turned over to those employed there. The promise to the Philippine government was that no products would be made and shipped to foreign countries that were in direct competition with anything currently produced in the Philippines and no products currently available in the domestic market would be dupilcated and sold period.

    The approach to the Philippine government was at a very high level and made in Manila. The idea was almost immediatly turned down with no explanation.

    • Bruce says:

      First I need to tell you, it was me and the 15 year old. I gave her money for food. Services was never in my mind. What I was explaining how beggars keep pushing for money and some keep pushing for more.
      About your long story about the business venture, as someone with so many educated minds I am surprised you never offered compensation to the people you talked to.
      I heard an academic asked how to stop the corruption in the Philippines and his reply was kill everyone over the age of 12.

  21. Tigulang says:

    It wsn’t me doing the promoting. It was done through the U.S. Embassy.

    The corruption age may have to be lowered–LOL

    • Bruce says:


      With the protectionism in the Philippines and the past attitudes of other government interference I understand why they did not listen to the U.S. Embassy.

      Also, I too felt that is was the Church and their views of contraceptive use was the cause of families having so many children. What I have learned and asks Filipinos to confirm is families look at larger families to have more grown working children to support them in older age and to help each other.

  22. Julie says:

    you’re right sir, survival here in the philippines is not that easy co’z of the population explosion…upon viewing the video, i felt pity to my co-filipinos & it’s very hard to explain why there is such kind of suffering. Hunger??? everyone should work hard not to experience it the reality is there…over population? I guess, everyone should be aware what comes next upon making babies…Contraceptives is very important for us to control population.

    • Bruce says:

      Too many have given up or too lazy to better themselves. Beggars get money and the poor constantly ask friends for food or money. When you do that your enabling them. In other words, your showing them they can survive without working.
      Contraceptives only work if used. Men will use the “If you love me, you will let me do it” an the girls will allow it. Birth control pills is the answer, but the shame of walking into a drug store to buy them and acknowledge they are having sex.

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