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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Our telephone line has been restored! I wonder when the wire thieves will strike again???? They were able to steal the wires lots of times already and there were failed attempts in between. One time they were already able to cut the wire but my brother was still awake so that he immediately went out to check when he noted that his internet connection got cut off and the culprits run away. This last time he fell asleep but it was a good thing since some people told him there were 5 people that did it and he could have been in trouble…

Oh well… that’s the downside in living in a depressed community. Lots of thefts from what have you… wires, clothes, water meters, grills and rails (anything that has steel or metal content that can be sold in the junk shop), electricity and water (for illegal connections)… of course only a few people do it and some are not even from the place. Most of the people there are just busy with their daily existence, many are decent!

This brings me to this picture sent by an online friend from the US.

He asked me if this picture of squatters he found in the internet is similar to the place near my area.

Well, some of the dwellings are the same… made from scrap woods, coconut lumber and GI sheets but some actually looks better compared to the 3 dwelling layers of scrap woods shown here. But what is shown is just one stretch along the railways (which is still being used by the way) while ours is a maze of dwellings in roads and eskinitas (alleys).

Many of the squatters in my neighborhood now have unfinished concrete walls made of hollow blocks and they are side by side other dwellings. There is no uniform size as it depends on what area one is able to appropriate for himself. A lot have a second floor with plywood as walls (some even uses hardiflex) and coconut lumbers (I saw one with steel braces) as posts and GI sheets for the roofing, many of these were bought as second hands though. If you look inside, many of them have a small colored TVs and you could even hear many singing along with the videoke. Some have electric stoves (mostly those with illegal electric connection) and washing machine too. Some have cables (illegal), they just give a one time payment for the installation and they could watch all they want since their electricity is also illegal. I heard that they just pay a minimal fixed monthly rate, to whom, I don’t know, and they could use up all the electricity they need. Of course, they won’t have electricity when the Meralco (Manila Electric Company) people comes along and cut them off but it doesn’t take long for them to get connected again… then lots of time the usage would be too much that the transformers explode!!! Their waters used to be free flowing while we had to wake up at inconvenient hours before just to be able to fill our containers but ever since Manila Waters took over, our water system has improved a lot and the illegal connections have slowly been minimized. I’m hoping for the same with the Meralco, that they are able to cut all illegal connections so we don’t have to bear the burden of paying for system loss charges.

Now there’s actually a big market for general merchandise in depressed areas and the richer people there are those with big sari-sari (variety) stores and the money lenders to the vendors there… ahh not to forget those who have appropriated (or bought rights from the previous dwellers) spaces and built concrete structures (some 3 stories high) and rent them out for HUGE amount. They could do that since the locations are usually convenient—good access to transportation and very near commercial/business areas!

Of course, I’m talking about those units you see along the road and bigger alleys where I pass through, there are others that are still made of scrap woods and the people really poor, but eventually they will replace the scrap with better materials as they progress in life or if the original dwellers opt to sell their dwellings to others who have more means than they have.

Hey, I have nothing against squatters that are really hard up. My parents started out renting a barong-barong (shanty) when they got married. When papa was still alive, he would tell me how blessed he is because he just wished for their own barong-barong before but we were able to build a decent home in our own lot… of course, they worked for it.

When we first stayed in our community there were already squatters around us… not as many as they are now, but sometimes late at night I’ll hear shouting and when I turn off the lights, I could see groups of people fighting and some throwing homemade spears… When people started coming in and they were setting up more concrete structures papa told me that in a way it was better since now that they are not transient anymore, they would be protecting the place more and the crime would be lessened. He would just say that he wished that there was some order in the way they build their homes.

There had been some trouble too when the legit owners of the land wanted to use it or sell it and the squatters would protests and fight and make unreasonable demands. That’s actually one side I’m really sad about… they have not even considered that the owners pay the government taxes and they would not even allow them access to their own land??? They should at least leave peacefully when the owner already needs the land since they were able to use the land for free for a long time. Some were even given relocation sites by the government but just decided to settle back to the place since it was convenient for them.

Sometimes, when I would think about the people that are already given relocation sites but still go back or find another place then demands for relocation site again when they are forced out of their new place… I would wish that the government would take their pictures and fingerprints and get vital information (including those of their immediate families) and put it in a DATABASE. And the government should check this database every time they would give low-cost housing or relocation sites or other similar “valuable” incentives to these people and if they still try to avail even if they are already in the database then they should not be allowed and if they still do not want to leave the place and cause trouble, then they should be punished!!!

What kind of punishment???

Well, since they insist on staying there, then they should not be allowed to leave the place anymore. The government could make a structure using THEM as walls and roof and floors. There should be a special glue to hold them together since nailing them would be too much! The more people, the bigger and higher the structure! They would only be allowed to get entangled from the structure when they promise (and eventually fulfill it) to help in community development.

Okay, this is never really going to happen…just a crazy thought since sometimes no matter how I try, these things also brings me down and I would wish that the government come up with something that will help them without tolerating ABUSE!


Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Those people you described made me think of what I once learned, "Poverty is a mental disease."

8:11 AM  

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