Filipino street children, those that are homeless and live on the streets are unavoidable in any city in the Philippines, at least those that I have been too. They can be a source of irritation for most but there is some joy there. After all, they kids even if they are street kids. Last night I met a street kid that could speak English. So far we have not talked much I did gain a little insight into his situation and what it is like for him is likely to be the same for many more. I do not know if I will continue to try to talk to him though. You will see why. I want to share what I have learned so far.
He and others hangout at a nearby Filipino quick service hamburger joint. A Fast food business named Angel’s. It is not a full service one like Jollibee, McDonalds or Burger King. I can get four tongue rash causing cheese burgers for 72 pesos which is less than $2. Not quite as cheap as the ten cent burgers we use to get at McDonalds or Krystal but very close to it. I prefer to get Hungarian sausage though because I get less sugar filled bread that way. The hamburgers are rash causing, to me yes. It may be just a yeast infection but I do not think so. The buns are full of sugar, a problem for any diabetic in the Philippines. The bread is generally very high in sugar here. The burgers are spicy too so that might be causing it, I do not every add spices. It likely would not happen to you. A yeast infection is a problem for some diabetics as well as people with compromised immune systems but that usually shows as white covering on the tongue. Can be quite painful if it gets to that point. What I have happen is red spots and streaks and a sore tongue. I have been eating a lot of them and I do not react as strongly to them as I first did. The first night I got them, I ended up eating eight of them as I was very hungry at the time. Plus they were good. haha
The child’s English is a bit limited or he is shy, I’m not sure which but probably both. This could end up being a series of articles as I learn more. That would be nice but I doubt it. This is the kind of thing I like to write about. Real life in the Philippines, this is how I learn and how you can learn about the details of living in the Philippines. For me, that includes a desire to understand the people, their culture while making a few assumptions as possible. Getting street children to talk has not proven easy. I am always curious about their story.
This boy comes and goes, he is a little older than some. I think the people next door help them a bit. There is a group of them, most are younger than this boy. Most are boys but there are some girls too. The boys move around and the girls usually do not seem to stay on the street as long. I am unsure if they get government help, find an abusive situation where they live or find someone that will help the female child.
I would like to help some of them more if I had the ability, but bringing them into my room would be a crime and stupid. People just assume you are up to no good too. That is not a good thing. How did we get to the point that a few freaks make the majority of us look bad if we try to do something good?
If you live in the Philippines and develop a reputation for messing with the kids, you very well may end up dead, if not arrested. I have seen cases where some foreigner ends up dead, supposedly at random but the talk on the street is the he was a pedophile. So that kind of help is out of the question. I would be in trouble fast and probably brought up on charges of human trafficking before it was over. There is also a good chance I just might get robbed. It probably is not the wisest move one could make for that reason alone. It can be done, going through the proper channels and spending the right kind of money but just doing it casually would likely not go well for me or anyone else. Every guy that gets into trouble here says he was trying to help. Some might actually be trying to help. Often though that help includes helping themselves and ignoring the law.
Filipino Street Children Happy with Nothing
I hope I can talk to him more but I learned a bit about situation. He claims his mother died and he has no family. That is completely possible. In his case, it is a complete lie! If he is just a dope head that ran away from home he would not tell me that. He says he doesn’t know where his father is. He looked sad when he said that but I am sure any beggar can act a little bit. I believed him, still that does not mean any of it is true. Far too often, some young Filipina looking to be loved tries to please a Pinoy. She ends up pregnant and he ends up gone. However, I know his mother is not dead. I asked him how long he had been on the street, “How many years? He sand he said he did not know.
I had noticed the night before that he and his two younger male friends were laughing and having fun. Some kind of secret humor that escaped me. Tonight after I realized the boy could speak English, I asked him if he liked living on the street and he said he did. He explained he had all he needed and showed me his cardboard bed. Yes, that is a true story folks. I know this is real, I see him sleeping on that cardboard bed on the sidewalk just outside my hotel. Not every night, some nights I find this trio sleeping on another nearby sidewalk.
But a woman that lives next door told me his mother is not dead as she tried to hit him with her purse when she learned of that and after he just asked me for money again. You see, to make sure he understood, I asked her to tell him that if he kept asking me for money I would never give him money again. I usually will not give money to people right at my hotel. I am going back to that rule because if they know where you are they will harass you. This kid though really angered me a last night. He just would not stop. He won’t ever get another peso from me. So he lied, yeah who hasn’t? The constant asking though, that I won’t put up with. I’ll just go into ignore mode and probably stop trying to talk to him. I do mean constant, five request a minute sometimes. One thing I will not do is give to those trying to harass me into it. Asking for something hoping I’ll give just to shut him up. He has the wrong person. If you are in that situation, anger is not a good idea either. Master ignoring them. Do not just pretend to ignore the harassing type beggar, actually do it.
I feel sure that he would prefer a home but maybe one without rules. Something probably did force him out. He does need help but since he knows where I live and will not leave me alone, he will not get any more help. I think he was saying that he preferred the street over the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). They do round up the street kids from time to time and put them in housing but I suspect many, if not, most make a fast get away and return to the streets. He has a home he could go to someplace and chooses not to go. Perhaps just a wild, uncontrollable seed. Perhaps he has a good reason not to return home. Home for some kids is not really such a good thing.
One foreigner told me they are just kids that do not wish to live under their parent’s rules so they run away. I really do not think, for most of the Filipino street kids, it is that simple. If they have parents they likely found them to be abusive. It is true that some are just born bad most of these kids do not seem bad at all. A lot are under then years old. They are babies.
They could live at the DSWD. The DSWD will provide help, send them too school and feed them. I know one Filipina that grew up there and is now an
adult. I can see where a child that is used to living on the street by the time the DSWD finds them and now prefers that free life over the structure and rules of adults. Those that prefer the shelter over the streets likely do stay after one the DSWD round ups. I do not know how often they do it but from time to time the DSWD rounds up the street kids. Many of the kids make their escape as soon as they can. That sometimes happens when they are at school.
I do not really like that the kids beg at the eateries. I am surprised they allow that but they did in Bogo City. I have not had any child tap on the window while I was inside McDonalds or Jollibee’s here in Cebu city though. That use to drive me insane that is not the way to do that in my opinion. I did eventually master truly ignoring it. It also bugs me that they will walk past 100 Filipinos and not ask for a thing but ask every white person they see for help. I do see Filipino’s helping the homeless. I see them giving them a few coins in most cases. I just do not wish to be covered up by beggars when I walk out of my hotel door and if I give to the kids just outside their will be more of them. They will drive you insane if you do it at home. Yes it is only a peso but for me 100 pesos a day does matter. Some meals are less than 100 peso for me!
Still they are kids and they are in need of help so I suggest you when you encounter them during the day, help them with a peso or five peso here and there. Do you small part and maybe others will do the same. It takes about 44 pesos to equal a single dollar. A peso is not even a dime and you are telling someone you care. I think that message is the more important one myself.
Yesterday, I gave a kid a peso and he said thank you. I do not usually talk about what I give because I think it is improper to do so. I do not give for a reward and those that do give then go around telling about it seem to be doing it for that reason. To tell others ‘Look me, I’m so good.” Do it to help a hungry child. I do not know if they are lying to me or you or how they will spend the money but I have seen children buying food from and eating at Angels. I have also seen them eating the scraps others left behind.
Once while I was at Angels, I had two of them tell me that the other one would spend the money on drugs rather than food. They are kids people do not expect for them to act like adults. One was a much older boy, in his early teens and way too pushy for my liking but they are kids. The worst kind of kids… teenagers haha.
Helping them may help a little bit to keep them from going up with a hardened heart. Maybe it will not help it does not matter. There are few things in this world I am sure of anymore but helping a child is a good thing and I am sure of it. It is the right thing to do regardless of what they do with it.
Money You Give to Street Kids in the Philippines goes to the Syndicate?
Sometimes this is true. There is organized begging here. If you give to kids around popular tourist areas that is likely what will happen to part of it. The kid gets part of it. That child is being exploited but he also needs help. You need to know that you could be helping very exploitive rich people. I personally try to avoid that but I will not let that be an excuse not to help anyone. If the mob gets a few peso out of me then they will just get it.
Organized begging also happens near parks. Entire families sometimes go to these parks from far away for the sole purpose of begging. You will see the use of old people with canes and other props. Blind people too. They may or may not be blind. The canes and other props are probably real. They are often at the most popular intersections and I suspect that is always some kind of corruption going on since it is illegal to give money to those beginning on the street. Yes, technically it is and I do not know the penalty or if it has ever been enforced. That the police allow this dangerous activity to go on at the busy intersections is suspicious to me. If you are in a taxi, the beggars come up and tap on your window. Sometimes yelling “Hey” as they do. With a little practice you can learn to look hard enough and show no compassion at all and they will not stay at your taxi for long. I can see I am getting better at that because they use to surround my taxi and stay until the light changed. Do not show anger, just a total lack of noticing they are in the same world as you. That will make them go away sooner. Anger means you are noticing them and if they can bug you into rolling the window down to make them go away. Giving them money will not make them go away. They may go but more will replace them soon afterwards. In these situations this is usually organized begging and I think there are people more in need of a few coins and that actually get to keep it themselves.
Do as you wish but these are my personal guidelines. What you do is your business including doing nothing at all. I do not want to know what you gave to whom. I really do not want to know. If you give nothing, I do not want to know that either. Save your excuses for yourself. It is none of my business but I do not buy the excuses either. I see too many men that don’t mind giving as long as it to a cute sexy skirt.
I will ask you to help when you can. Like all things be smart about it and you being here and taking the time to read this will give you some education into when and where. I do not claim to know everything but I have learned a little by actually living here for six years and interacting with Filipinos at every chance I get.
The Need is Real: Street Kids Need our Help
There is real need out there. Massive amounts of real need by people that would give you their last peso if you were in need. Good people that would never harm your or steal from you. Poverty here is not like poverty in the USA and probably other Western nature. I do not see the culture of “If you will not give to me or I cannot earn, I’ll just take it from you” in the Philippines. At least not in abundance like poverty stricken areas in the USA tend to be. Some limited areas of the Philippines could be different than Cebu, I know what Cebu is like and it well represents other areas outside of Manila. Manila and the National Capital Region (NCR) which includes Manila seems like a vastly different place in many ways but many of the people here I know do still hold traditional no beliefs and ways there too.
I want to leave you with one more picture. The quality of the photo is poor as it is a little out of focus. It tells the story. There is a kid under that blanket. I watched a foreigner be very rude to him today. Called him a “Punk” and various other names. I know they can be a pest but look at this:
Like ghost in the street but they are children. You think you have hard trying to deal with these pest? Do you really? See above. I am human, sometimes I need to reminded because I know I’m conflicted by this situation but in the end it is about that kid sleeping on newspaper for a bed.
Please tell me about your experience with street kids, both good and bad experiences. Use the comments below. If you find this article to be useful, please share it on your social networks.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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