They dot the landscape in contrast with the western style, Manila skyline. These communities often sit at the base of new condominiums, markets and other public structures. Wildcat villages as they are referred to are places where families live in extreme poverty but where you can buy and you can sell most of the necessary goods and services. And there are very narrow roads winding their way through these villages.
The houses are mostly wooden structures, some metal and some stucco in great disrepair and divided up into rooms for rent with families living on top of each other. Each tenant also pays for water and electricity in addition to the rent…
The houses are owned by landlords but the land may be owned by individual military or the government. The people living in the structures are referred to as squatters even though they pay rent.
Jen, my friend and organizer asked Mariselle if we could visit her village. Mariselle does cleaning at the condominium where we stayed. As usual, Jen could engage anyone and everyone!
Mariselle who looked in her 30s was two months away from having her 3rd child. Joey, her husband met us at the condo complex and we all took a taxi to their village just minutes away We turned down a small narrow road into a world of broken commercial and residential structures and fractured dreams. Mariselle and Joey live in one room with an outside area to wash and hang clothes. They pay 8,000 pesos a month plus water and electric. Joey is recently unemployed and Mariselle makes 20,000 pesos a month. Add food, clothing, medicine, transportation…well you do the math. Welcome to life in the Philippines. Jen explains to me the pain she feels about conditions in her country.
The abundance of fruit and vegetables grown in the Philippines along with the availability of rice and seafood should translate into a hunger free society. Unfortunately, this is not the case and national politics along with the world economy rule the day. One American claimed to me that the Philippines should appreciate all the call center jobs we have lost to their country.
In the Philippines, call center workers fear losing their jobs to China. And the finger-pointing continues.