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Manila life and Province Life. The dilemma of Filipinos

Updated on February 13, 2014

Inequality in action … high-rise buildings tower over slum dwellings in Manila. Many feel the rich wield disproportionate influence.


Consigned at the extreme margin of the hot, densely populated and humid city of Manila, is a man named Pablo. Just like many others within the nooks and cranny of the city and its extensive rapidly growing suburbs, Pablo is not alone. He has already spent 75 percent of his 39 years on earth scavenging the remnants of the city’s waste. Thin, swift, sun-baked skin with “hard-worked” skeletal figure, he once stood to be counted as one of the country’s poor, living under $2 a day. He had just finished his daily routine of roaming the busy streets scavenging wastes from the roadsides waste bins and from shops and restaurants, the ones from the later will serve as his family meal for the next hours. Sitting and sweating profusely in the hot and smelly shade of the cross-over bridge, he thought for a while and realized that he needs to segregate the wastes before selling them off for a few change to a junk shop in the nearest suburb. Without wasting much time, a lot need to be done before the three of his five children ranging from ten to three years old, return from the streets begging for money. While the pregnant wife stays out most hours of the day, her job is selling few boxes of candy and cigarettes until night hourfrom a distance street leading to one of the big malls with the fourth child; the only girl among them. Scattered within her location are similar families and member of the city’s poorest group whose lives and routines are being directed by factors beyond their control yet hold still a fat portion of their destinies in their hands by the reason of the choices they made and also, the manner they choose to respond to life’s challenges of being poor.

Banaue town hilltop views Ifugao Province Philippines


A visit to some of the provinces within the beautiful Island of the Philippines left me with no doubt that better life lies in the choices we make and less on government or other contributing elements of civilization. The provinces are rich in fresh crops, clean air, clean water and nice home to keep families warm and secured from any sort danger. For instance, in Banaue; my fiancée’s place of birth, a municipality endowed with an ancient architectural rice terraces, built and culturally designed to soil and feed the inhabitants thousands of years ago until date, lies an undisputed asset and crude engineering structure for any community that has adopted sustainability in her dictionary. To my surprise, like the other provinces I have visited; just a few of young people live along with their relatives and friends of which their means of livelihood is farming. The rest are in the cities and abroad for a greener pasture jobs.

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Floodplains and vulnerable lands are commonly used as informal settlements and judging from reports about manila sprawl, the settlement pattern of the Metro Manila urban poor is generally scattered, located wherever there is available space and opportunity to work or beg. Although majority of them are comfortable in their ordeal, they seems to be a parallel line of reason as to why they choose to stay in squalor, undermining their vulnerability to natural disaster. The reason, according to them, is usually and I quote “this is our land and our right”... We shouldn’t be denied of our right to live”. However this truth may seems, the reality is that majority of them have choosing to co-exist with danger and pity.


There are trade-offs to make the moment one chooses to hang on the scale of life. However, it becomes necessary that one make wise choices in order to reduce the odds of life.The hope that tomorrow will be better has to be subordinated not only by our hard-work but also smart choices and sacrifices to get us there. This truth is timeless and any attempt to deviate from it, by not delaying gratification, or making a long term goals and plans while paying some prices along your journey, would land anyone into economic chaos- especially this time when the other elements of life are govern by how stable our finances are.

Life, as it is defined; is ones choice. The hard things and the unfathomable circumstances that happened to us as we journey along are not fate but more or less part of life itself, a part that we carved through our choices. They are lessons and tools designed by nature to serve us to be wiser and smarter next time we make decision. I believe everyone is sensitive to these signals when they warn us that our path is not the road that leads to fulfillment in life. Reality confronts man on a daily basis and there is no one, if given the power to foresee the future, would choose to be poor, yet we hold the key to unlock whatever door we choose to pass in order to get to our fate.

The question that kept me worried and provoked my writing over the state of people I have seen in the islands is that “ can’t people just stay back at their comfort zones if there are no provisions made by their government or if they are ill-equipped to face the city life than to endanger their lives living on the edge? And why would people still give birth to too many children under such circumstance.

Typhoon victims in the Philippines.



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