Traveling through the Philippines you wonder about the prosperity of the country and its inhabitants. Being a tourist gives you a unique position as an observer of day to day life and often what touches me most is about what you can see about the children living there. It is easy to close your eyes and not see, but maybe you want to be real about it.
Some frightening facts:
– the income gap between the rich and the poor was wider in the Philippines than in Indonesia and Thailand, indicating serious inequality in the distribution of the country’s economic gains. It is noted that the income of the Philippines’ richest ten percent of the population was in fact twenty times the income of the poorest ten percent.
– According to the data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, more than one-quarter (27.9%) of the population fell below the poverty line the first semester of 2012, which is a 1% increase since 2009. With over 98 million Philippines in the country that is a substantial number
When I was travelling through I saw a lot of happy children. They seemed to not be able to get enough from playing in the water, enjoying slinging from palm trees and pretending to already be a fisherman.
Meanwhile you couldn’t ignore though that they aren’t all in the happy circumstances that playing is what preoccupies them most of the day. One evening we were eating on a terrace in El Nido at Palawan overlooking the port. It was 9 o’clock and we saw a girl of about 8 years old with a head torch walking through low tide. She was catching crabs, and while you might think that she was eager to make some pocket money, her mother picked her up an hour later counting the crabs that she caught and taking the basket from her. And at Bulabog beach in Boracay we noticed some strange deeper holes. It turned out that each afternoon around 4pm a little boy came to the beach and started digging which seemed the entrance of a hole. He too was trying to catch crabs. At the other end of the beach the boys were playing in the water, and it probably wasn’t hard to imagine where he would rather be.
With over 27 mln Philippinos living below the poverty line, children will be affected and be part of the labour force form an early age. You do hope though that while contributing to family income from a young age they are enabled to go to school and be given a chance to step up on the income ladder from their parents.