Life on the streets

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014


THIRTEEN-year-old Jegger, who hails from Tagum City, lives on the streets in Davao City. This, he said after his mother left him with his grandmother in Ramon Magsaysay Avenue because his father can no longer support all seven of them in the family. His mother is a housewife while his father is a street vendor.

Just like other street children, Jegger is on the streets because of poverty. And since he is just 13, too young to get a suitable job, he begs.

"Salamat sa Ginoo naa man pud nuon manghatag ginagmay. Kana ra pud ako ipalit-palit ug makaon kay among makaon sa balay, kung naa man, kulang pa halos namo (Thank God, there are still those who give. This is what we use to buy food, although it is never enough)," Jegger said.

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Jegger said he hadn't seen his mother and father since he was left with his grandmother. He added that as much as he wants to go back to Tagum City, he knows his life there will be the same here, even if he will be happy to see his parents and four siblings, he would rather stay here.

Ten-year-old Dodong, who hails from Panabo City and also lives on the street here, said his mother entrusted him to his aunt in Bankerohan because his mother can no longer take care of all eight siblings. He went to school - on and off because her aunt also has her own children to care for.

"Na ko diri sa dalan para manglimos, kay kung mag tambay ra pud ko kanunay sa balay sa akong auntie, wala man gihapon ko'y buhaton didto. Unsa, maghulat lang ba daw ko pa kan-on? Sa kalisod kay akong mama sige ra pud panganak unya dili man diay mi kaya niya buhion maong naa ko karon diri (I beg because if I don't then all I will do is hang out at my aunt's house where they'd ask me if all I'm going to do is wait to be fed. My mother kept on giving birth although she cannot provide for all of us that's why I'm here)," Dodong said.

Dodong said life on the streets is never simple, but a kid like him who has no other choice will learn. Asked if he wants to return to his parents, at one point he said yes, but only if life will be better.

"Pero kung ingon ani man lang pud gihapon ang kinabuhi, ingon ani na jud akong kinabuhi. Sa dalan na lang ko kay bisan gamay matagaan (If our life will be just like what I have now, then I prefer life in the streets because at least people give me something here)," he said.

Dodong said he is not averse to stealing if he must. He has been in jail several times, anyway, but only because of violating the curfew for minors.

"Okay naman lang ko sa ako kinabuhi ingon ani, kapoy na eskwela, kapoy hilabina kung wala'y kwarta imong mama ug papa. At least sa dalan libre tanan (I'm okay here. I don't like going to school, it's tough especially if your parents do not have money. At least everything comes free on the streets)," Dodong said.

Eleven-year-old Benjie, who hails from General Santos City, echoed the same. He, however, do not know how get here in Davao City. He said he walk away from their house when he was confronted and scolded by his mom, for his bad behavior.

"Pag naa ka aning dalan na nag puyo, makat-unan nimo manginabuhi ug imoha lang. Wala nang kahadlok. Ug maka-timing ug mga rugby boy, imbarguhan pa gani mi kung unsa naa sa amo, ana lang. Dili pwede na hina ug luya-luya ka kay di ta mabuhi ni ana (You will learn everything on the streets. Fear is forgotten. When I encounter rugby boys, they'll even take everything that I have, but that's how it is. You can't be a weakling here, you will die)," Benjie said. He left home in General Santos City after he was scolded, he said.

Eleven-year-old Ranie, who hails from Surigao del Sur, and temporarily lives in Quezon Boulevard, said he also left their house because he was scolded by his father. But for him, he would rather go home than stay longer on the streets.

"Maayo man gihapon tong naa ka sa imong ginikanan bisan pa sa tumang kalisod kay naa man kay masampit. Diri sa dalan, o malingaw gud gihapon ko labi nag naa kay mga higala, makakat-on pud ka manginabuhi sa pa agi na imong nahibaluan, pero lahi pag naa gihapon kay ginikanan (It's different if you are with your parents even if you are poor. Although I enjoy being with friends, and you also learn how to make a living on the streets, but it's different when you are with your parents)," Ranie said.

Melody Flores, a banana cue vendor on Bolton Street and San Pedro Street, told Sun.Star Davao that she had seen these children on the streets several times, running, hiding, and begging money and food from any passerby.

"Kung wala'y limos mag sige ra pud na sila pangayo sa mga paninda diri pud sa dalan, tagaan pud namo aron dili magsinamok (If no one gives them alms, they would ask from us. I give them just to shut them up)," Flores said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman earlier said its office targets a reduction of about 80 percent in the number of street children/families in highly-urbanized cities nationwide by the end of 2014.

Soliman said the target is not only for street children in Metro Manila, but also in Davao City, Iloilo, and other highly-urbanized regions so to primarily ensure that children are staying in safe areas and not roaming in the streets.

"The plan may look and sound as quite ambitious, but I believe that in partnership with the local government units (LGUs), this comprehensive program for the sector of street children and their families will certainly be achieved," Soliman said.

DSWD Davao Region director Priscilla Razon added that another effort being undertaking by the agency is to reduce the number of the street occupants through their "Balik Probinsiya" Program, where the department provides transportation assistance to those onto the street desiring to return to their homes.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 04, 2014.

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