Malate – Home to the Homeless

Written by: Sajid Peña. 12 January 2014

I am a Filipino living in an area of Manila called Malate. The neighbourhood is probably best known as the entertainment district. It is a thriving tourist hotspot, jammed with numerous mid and lower end hotels. Home to a congested galaxy of bars catering to all tastes, massage parlours, money changers, karaoke rooms, eateries, and an increasing number of homeless people.


During my relatively short time of living here (9 years) I have witnessed a concerning growth in the number of families living on the streets. Recently I spent some time taking photos and talking to a few of them to try and understand why they end up here.


Just two blocks from where I live, there are around twelve families sleeping on the sidewalk. Each family has an average of five members. This is just one small community of many. The reason they have settled in this particular spot is that, it is opposite the bay, and near a Pension House, owned by a kindly patron.


The first time I approached a homeless group here, I was surprised by their reaction. The initial family I spoke to were very hostile towards me. They said they didn’t want to talk to anyone. They were suspicious, and believed people only wanted their stories to make money out of them. I tried to explain that wasn’t my aim, but the husband told me to go away. I decided to leave them and look for others that may be more willing. There was another family nearby, but they showed no interest in me. Instead they were concentrating on the piles of empty plastic bottles and scrap cardboard they had collected from the streets, and were now sorting ready to sell on for recycling. I resolved to come back the following day and try again.

When I returned the next day, I took with me three full bags, containing both new T-Shirts and second-hand ladies clothes – a charitable donation from visiting UK friends. I walked back to the same place, where there were around seven or eight families sitting around. I began handing out some of the clothes, and the mother from the day before approached and asked me for some. I gave her a T-shirt. She pushed for more, and it was difficult to share the clothing equally.


An older lady spoke to me. I politely introduced myself and asked her name. She told me she was called Imelda. I respectfully asked if she would be willing to be interviewed. She confirmed she would be happy to chat with me the next day.

The third day I arrived to meet with Imelda, she introduced me to her partner Danny. She told me they had been together twenty years. We sat together and Imelda gave me an insight into life on Manila’s streets.

Imelda is 56 years old, and Danny is 42. Like most the men there, Danny is a pedicab driver (bicycle with sidecar). They don’t own the pedicabs, but rent them for 110 pesos a day (£1.50). The amount they earn varies – on rainy days they get a lot more customers, or very hot days, when commuters are unwilling to walk short distances. On a good day, he told me he makes 300 pesos (£4).


Danny is from Catanduanes, Bicol region. He was left alone with his violent father after his mother died young. He decided to escape his strict father, and hid in the back of fruit lorry, which brought him to Manila. He has lived on the streets ever since, surviving by searching rubbish bins and selling whatever he can find. He did briefly get a small grant from a local politician to attend school. He completed grade 7 - first year of high school, but it was hard with very little money, so he dropped out to try and earn more by collecting/selling garbage.
Imelda is from Bulacan province. After her husband died, she decided to come to Manila to search for her daughter who had left a year or so before. She found her daughter, who was living under the care of Danny. Imelda and Danny fell in love and the daughter met another man. She now lives with this other man on the streets just near Imelda and Danny.


Danny works days and nights looking for passengers, but there are some days when they have none, so he still searches through garbage. They live on M.H.Del Pilar Street, right by a grand condominium block with swimming pools and bay views. Imelda is friendly with a caretaker of a building next door. He sometimes allows her to use the toilet and provides water for washing up. It’s unlikely that any of the homeless families here regularly wash because there is no facility for them. You see many of the kids splashing in the bay, but the water is badly polluted and evidently causes illness and eye problems.


Whilst I was giving Imelda some extra clothes I had with me, to thank her, I could see some of the other women were not very happy. Imelda told me they were envious of her because she was friends with the caretaker. She said they were always watchful, spying on everything. They gossiped and were very jealous if someone received some money or other charity from a passing good Samaritan.


I asked her what she and the others did at Christmas? As it had recently passed, did they all have food together? She smiled and said no, because they were not all friendly here. She told me someone kind had given her a bowl of spaghetti and macaroni salad. She said her and Danny ate it in their little house. She showed me what she meant by little house. It was the pedicab sidecar with covers rolled down on the side. This provides their only form of privacy from the constant openness of living on the street.

After seeing Imelda, I became friendly with another lady called Kelly. She was 39 years old, with 3 children. Kelly first came to Manila from her province in 1994, when she was 19 years old. An agency had arranged for her to get a job working in a restaurant here. She said she had been tricked, as she had to work for five months with no salary to cover the agency’s costs.


On arrival in Manila, Kelly met her first boyfriend. She said they were happy in the beginning, but she was aware that he was a violent man. He was part of a gang, and it wasn’t long before he started to beat her. She was in a very vulnerable position, with no money. It wasn’t until he murdered another gang member that she finally decided to run and get away from him.

Kelly came to Malate area, and began selling cigarettes, candies and crisps on Quirino Avenue to drivers waiting in traffic. She met another man named Marco, and they rented a room on Nakpil St for 300 pesos a month. They got married and eventually moved next to The Ambassador Hotel near Quirino Avenue, paying 700 pesos per month.

When Kelly had her first child – Alex, she said they were very lucky to be living so close to Ospital Ng Maynila. A government hospital that provides free treatment.


In 1995 Kelly and Marco were told that the house they were living in was an illegal dwelling and would be demolished. She said they had nowhere else to go, and eventually the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) came and tore down all the shanty residences. Kelly told me they lost everything they had – all their possessions. The government promised them new housing outside of Manila, in the meantime Kelly and Marco began sleeping rough on M.H. Del Pilar Street where other homeless families had settled. Now 19 years later, they are still living on the same patch of sidewalk. Kelly said the government housing never materialised, and now she thinks of this small piece of grey cracked concrete as home. She said ‘It’s our place.’ They sweep it, they keep it tidy and orderly. Stacking their meagre belongings on a wall behind them.

Over the years since Kelly has been on Del Pilar St, many bars and coffee shops have opened up in the nearby area along Roxas Boulevard and the Baywalk. They welcomed this as a good sign, it gave them hope that it would bring more people they could sell to. But the police stopped them from going on to the Baywalk. If they were caught, they would be taken down to the precinct. Kelly believed that the Baywalk was only for rich people, who could afford expensive coffee and nice clothes.


During the period of Mayor Atienza, Kelly said that homeless men were rounded up by the police, and taken to the outskirts of Manila. There they were stripped of their clothes and dumped with no way of returning back.

I asked Kelly about her daily routine. She told me that she would wake at 4am and buy pandesal rolls for her, Marco and her three sons – Alexander 12, Kenneth 9, and Mark Antony 3. She would buy four pandesal for 12 pesos. If she has a few pesos more she will buy a cup of 3in1 coffee and share it with Marco.

Kelly will then prepare the boys for school. Marco usually gets a jug of water for washing from a sympathetic neighbour, but this isn’t always available. Kelly said that even if the boys are unable to take a wash she still sends them to school, as school is more important than washing. Marco will then go out on the pedicab looking for customers.

Marco rents the pedicab from the friendly Pension House. If a day goes past when Marco does not receive any fares, the owner of the Pension House will let him settle up the following day. He sometimes even provides them with spare food.

Kelly usually spends the morning chatting with the other homeless, and then at noon goes to collect the boys. If Marco has had any passengers, she will pick up some lunch from the corner carinderia. If Marco does not have enough, she will only buy lunch for the boys, and a cigarette for herself to curb her hunger.




A typical meal for them is a bowl of plain rice with a small drop of soya sauce or oil on top. Very rarely are they able to have something to accompany the rice. At weekends the Pension House often provides food for them all, and other homeless families arrive from Lunetta to share. Then they sometimes all swim in the bay together.

Kelly told me they have to be constantly wary and alert in case the police come round. If the DSWD (Department of Social and Welfare Development) are with them, then the women and children are taken into custody near City Hall. They are usually held for 5 days and have to pay a bail of 220 pesos. The men are taken to Precinct 5 UN Police Station, and also required to pay 220 pesos bail before being released. Kelly said it’s very hard for them to get the 220 pesos bail, but even worse is that the men are used as human punch bags and beaten by the police; it can be many days before they recover from the bruising. She added that this rarely happened around election time. Kelly thinks that the local politicians and Barangay officers always want to make a good impression in the neighbourhood.


When they are released by the DSWD and return to the street, often other homeless has taken their possessions, and they have to plead to get them back. Kelly was once taken by the DSWD for five days. She asked the DSWD why they are doing this, why are they taking her? She was told that they have to because the government had issued a memorandum stating they should.

The DSWD put them on a workshop that states they will provide new housing, and help them with getting work. But Kelly said that they all know the new homes are miles out of the city, and away from main roads, where there are no jobs, and expensive to cover travel costs.


Kelly was both friendly and at ease with me. She spoke freely, and seemed happy to chat about anything. We even talked about her private life. ‘There is no private life here,’ she laughed. I asked her what she would do if she became pregnant for a fourth time. She replied that she had been negated, and wouldn’t want any more responsibility.



As the sun set over the bay, and I left Kelly for another night on the street, I found my emotions in conflict. It is hard not to feel sympathy for her, but I also struggle to accept her chosen course and reasoning. I know her belief, that the capital’s streets are paved of gold is not unusual, however she appears blinded by it. She has spent almost 20 years living on the street and still remains positive. Is this positivity admirable, or sadly misplaced? A large proportion of Filipino’s (me included) living and working in Manila come from the provinces. Life there may be simpler, but there is always enough food, family support, schooling and shelter. Our essential things to survive are in no shortage. Those that leave, do so with a motivation to achieve much more, either in education or work, and do so with the knowledge that they can always return.




BRIGHTON PRIDE 2013

Some photos I took on my phone during the Bright Pride 2013. The happy friendly people! X









@BrightonPride

GIVE UP TOMORROW SCREENING IN MANILA & CEBU

Finally, Give Up Tomorrow is soon to be shown in Manila and Cebu Theatres!

GUT is a documentary film about a young boy, Paco Larrañaga who was sentenced to jail for a crime he couldn't possibly have done. For 15 years, the whole family and those who believe he is innocent still yearn for the day that Paco will walk away from jail as a free man and vindicated.

Give Up Tomorrow is directed by Michael Collins and produced by Marty Syjuco.

Let us all watch the film and support Paco's battle for justice!


YOU KNOW YOU'RE A FILIPINO IF...

  1. You nail all your photographs on your walls in the living room.
  2. You say comfort room instead of rest room.
  3. You say for take out instead of to go.
  4. You point with your lips.
  5. You nod upwards to greet someone.
  6. Your nickname is BOY or OTOY.
  7. You ask for Colgate instead of toothpaste.
  8. You eat underdeveloped duck eggs.
  9. You pronounce the word ALREADY as OLREYDI.
  10. You say KODAKAN instead of take pictures.
  11. You refer to your refrigerator as "pridyider".
  12. You say "pliers" when you meant "flyers".
  13. You cover your sofa with plastic.
  14. You have a Last Supper quilt on your dining wall.
  15. You drive a Mercedes Benz with maroon seat covers.
  16. You have a rosary on the rear view mirror of your car.
  17. You have a Santo Niño shrine in your living room.
  18. You're standing next to big boxes at the airport.
  19. You say "HOY" to get someone's attention.
  20. Your car chirps like a bird when you back up.
  21. You have a collection of Bruce Lee and Charles Bronson movies in VHS and Betamax.
  22. You have "Best of Slow Rock" cassette tapes in heat proof casing.
  23. You call somebody "PSSST!".
  24. You drink with your friends and share the same glass, passing it around.
  25. You say kutex instead of nail polish.
  26. You're the plane passenger with the biggest hand-carry luggage.
  27. You don't want to eat the last piece of food on the plate, but offer it to others.
  28. You say "ano" this and "ano" that.
  29. You say that everybody is your cousin, niece, etc.
  30. You say things bit backwards like stick bread instead of breadsticks.
  31. You drive a jeep with your family name written on the back.
  32. You have soy sauce circles on your tablecloth.
  33. You wash and reuse styrofoam cups.
  34. You collect items from hotels and restaurants "for souvenir".
  35. You smile for no reason.
  36. You find dried up rice morsels on your shirt.
  37. You add unwarranted "H" to your name, i.e. "BHOY", "JHUN",
  38. You put hands together in front of you as if to make a path and say, "Excuse, excuse".
  39. You consistently arrive 30 minutes late for all events.
  40. You prefer to make acronyms for phrases such as "OA; for overacting or "TNT" for well, you know.
  41. You own a karaoke.
  42. You own a piano that no one ever plays.
  43. Your car still has the plastic covers.
  44. You have a giant wooden fork and spoon hanging somewhere in the dining room.
  45. You have a giant wooden tinkling dancer on the wall.
  46. You have a Mercedes Benz and you call it a CHEDENG.
  47. Your mom or sister is a nurse.
  48. You have aunts or uncles named "Boy", "Baby" or "Girlie".
  49. You have a family member that has a nickname that repeats itself, "Deng Deng", "Ling Ling", "Bong Bong"
  50. You dip bread in your morning coffee.
  51. You add "Sir" to names to be polite like "Sir Bong-bong", "Sir Don-don", "Sir Mon-mon".
  52. You are late, and your excuse is "It's too traffic in EDSA".
  53. You bump to people while walking because you are busy texting.
  54. You have a high-end cellular phone and you think it will make you a better person.
  55. Your top priority in your daily activities is texting.
  56. You shout while talking on your cellphone.
  57. Your topic while eating are celebrities.
  58. Your life goes around on Facebook and Twitter.
  59. You go to the mall everyday, not to buy or eat, just "window shopping".
  60. You piss on the street next to the "Bawal umihi dito" sign. **(Bawal umihi dito = don't piss here)

AdU GRADUATE NOW AND IN THE FUTURE

“Graduates from Adamson University are 99.9% top-ranking in any board exams!” said CHED Commissioner Nona S. Ricafort, Ph. D.

No wonder that many parents from the upper class in Manila send their children to study in Adamson University. The tuition fee is a little but the education their children get is excellent.

The population of the university is more or less 15,000 students this school year. Half of them are new enrollees, and most of these kids are from the prominent families in Metro Manila. Only few are from various provinces in the country and mostly, they are politician’s children studying law, engineering, business management, or mass communication.

There are so many courses to choose from and all of these courses are globally competitive, as it has been proven that Adamson University has the highest amount of top ranking board examinees in every course among other universities in the Philippines.

“It’s not about the money. When my son finished his studies, I saw the great benefits of it right away. Now, he’s working in the biggest company in the Philippines,” said one mother of an alumnus.
Surely, decades from now, most companies will only employ workers who graduated from Adamson University. Few more years, most employees working in big firms will be graduates of Adamson University.

**Article written in Feature Writing class in Adamson University (Mass Communication Department) – 2011

THE BIRTH OF SINGLAND

Far away there is a hot exotic land called Singland. It was named after King Sing II, who was an ambitious and power hungry ruler from another nation who had sent his devout followers to conquer the indigenous inhabitants of Singland and open it up for trade. Prior to being called Singland there had been many names given to this formation of lush and fertile islands, but the name Singland resonated with the its people as they were well known for their three favourite pastimes – Eating, Sleeping and Singing. King Sing II had very strong beliefs, and in the name of his faith he sent armies to many different lands all across the globe, not just Singland, to help spread his gospel. And although the teachings of his faith were designed to encourage peace and love to all fellowmen, it seemed he was willing to slaughter anybody who may happen to have alternative views.

And so it was, that Singland became occupied by King Sing’s conquistadors for many, many years. In particular they chose to settle in the North of Singland. The South was a more hostile territory, which previously had been ruled by Sultans and Datu’s who were not willing to concede their native land to outside invading forces quite so readily as their Northern neighbours. Occasionally, the Northern indigenous people rose up against their foreign intruders, but their rebellions were quickly quashed. There was one man in particular who stood up, a brilliant, brave and bright scholar. Peacefully, he continuously questioned the legitimacy of these invaders ruling over his fellow countrymen. However, he was eventually silenced in the face of a firing squad at the young age of 35.

The vassal’s of King Sing II that were sent to Singland to spread the word of his faith, were chosen for their high moral standing and celibacy. However, once they arrived in Singland they soon realized how far away from both their homeland and controlling master they were. Many of them became corrupt and took the law into their own hands. They behaved brutally towards the native people, and broke their vows of celibacy. They took local mistress’s, and very soon a new population was being born, a breed of bastards with mixed blood.

This continued for 300 years, the people of Singland being suppressed with the gospel of King Sing so much, that it had become part of everyday life, it was now a part of their psyche. They had become true believers, unwilling to accept an existence without it. During this 300 years, the outside world had changed considerably, and King Sing II had long since died. His home nation was no longer the superior force it use to be, and now his successors had foolishly gone to war with another more dominant power, and after just 4 months of conflict, they had been forced to surrender several parts of their empire, including Singland in exchange for peace and gold.

Initially, the people of Singland were overjoyed, their singing became even more melodious and beautiful as they welcomed the arrival of their new liberators, but it soon became apparent that these liberators had ideas of their own, and granting Singland its independence was not one of them. These liberators had kindly faces, but behind their smiles and generous words, lay an obsessive aggression for acquiring territory for their own benefit. Once the Singers got wind of this, they soon stopped harmonizing and began to fight. The liberators (or Patriots as they called themselves) were taken by surprise at the bloody opposition they faced, they had not envisaged such stubborn grittiness from this normally passive, happy and friendly race. Fighting the locals, cost the Patriots far more in lives and money than it had getting rid of King Sing’s Army. This bitter conflict went on for 3 years before the Singers and their uninvited guests – the Patriots, settled down and mapped out a more peaceful coexistence.

For the next 39 years life was pretty good in Singland, the singers and the Patriots living together in a fairly amicable way, until suddenly all hell let loose. A vast world battle had erupted a couple of years before, which Singland had no part in, but now it was spilling out on to their shores. Within 3 weeks the Patriots had fled with their tails between their legs like scolded dogs, and in their place arrived the most sadistic invaders to have ever landed on Singland soil. The next few years in the history of Singland were probably their most distressing. Because of the sadistic nature and sad looking eyes of their latest invaders, the Singers gave them the name Sadinese. The Sadinese ruled Singland for over 3 years, installing a puppet as its president which they controlled. Many Singers were tortured and killed during this time, until eventually huge numbers of Patriots returned and a massive sea battle took place between them and the Sadinese, while on land the Singers also fought against the Sadinese, forcefully repelling them from their islands for good, and at last achieving their rightful independence from any foreign nation.

EPILOGUE
Unfortunately the old fashioned teachings of the faith indoctrinated in them from King Sing’s henchmen, has fuelled the rapidly growing population of Singland, and in turn plummeted them into poverty, as there are just too many mouths to feed. And in order to survive the years and years of colonization, the people have absorbed corruption as part of their everyday life, allowing the rich to become richer and the majority to lead poor and wretched lives. It is time for the Singers to stop praying for a better future, and start acting. They can still follow their beliefs, but take a good look outside and see how others have modernized their views, and adapted their faith to fit the 21st Century. And it is time to say no more corruption. The people who serve you are elected by you, you have the power to change them. We no longer want public servants that are there to feed their own nests, we no longer want law enforcers that bully and stink of extortion. These are the very people we should trust and be able to turn to when in trouble. Stop being submissive, stand up and SING! 



GIVE US BACK OUR SIDEWALK

MANILA could be a great place to take a walk. In the late afternoon, when the sun is almost down, and the heat of the day dissipated, what better time to take a leisurely stroll and observe the hustle and bustle of our streetlife. There is often a cooling breeze, particularly blowing in from the Baywalk, near where I live.

A few weeks ago, I walked along Adriatico Street on my way to Robinson’s Place Shopping Mall. The road is actually quite clean and well maintained, maybe because of the big Pan Pacific hotel taking prime position along it. A bit further down there are the usual smaller shops - offering laundry services, moneychangers, and Viagra vendors loitering on the corner.

Just after passing the old decorative Chinese Temple, opposite the Pan Pacific, the sidewalk is blocked! The Hostel 1632 has decided to obstruct the public sidewalk with their pots of unpleasant looking green plants. It wouldn't matter so much if they had placed these unnecessary and unattractive obstructions before the sidewalk, on their ample parking area, but instead they have chosen to be totally inconsiderate to pedestrians, which are now forced to walk in the road in front of approaching traffic!

I’m not sure if they think their hotel owns that pavement, or if their manager is just stupid.

G I V E   U S   B A C K   O U R   S I D E W A L K !

LET'S DO THE RIGHT THING

“Devil worshippers…” whispered the man next to me, after watching the news on TV about RH Bill supporters demonstrating in the Senate of the Philippines.

I would have explained to him that if some people support the RH Bill, it does not mean that they are devil worshippers. Alternatively, we also know that it doesn’t make you a more moral person if you are averse to the RH Bill.

If my stand is for the RH Bill, this does not define me as an immoral or bad person, arguably it makes me a more responsible and caring person in comparison to those mindless and ill-informed people that oppose it.

THE RH Bill is a reproductive health bill that aims to guarantee universal access to methods and information on birth control and maternal care in the Philippines. The RH Bill does not (as many people mistakenly believe) promote abortion. Its aim is to create awareness amongst Filipinos about the country’s rapidly increasing population, and address the relevant factors.

In the past, it would have been taboo to even mention the word ‘condom’ in the Philippines. Much worse to openly debate sexual issues publicly. But this is the 21st century and being the 12th most populous country with a staggering 101,833,938 million population compared to 60,703 million just 30 years ago – NOW is the time to act!

In my opinion we need to educate every Filipino, to help alleviate the country from plummeting even further into extensive poverty. As the population grows, so does the level of poverty, but how can we educate all of them? Just this 2011 school year, there were not enough classrooms to accommodate all the school children! Before we even start to educate them we need to provide more classrooms and teachers, and offer more books that provide sexual education for every grade school student. Could this be a good start?

Unsurprisingly the Philippine Catholic Church is resisting the RH Bill. Do they have the right to meddle with state affairs? Is it not because of their outdated sermons that the Philippines is burdened with such poverty? When will they accept modernity and realise their unwavering stance is causing misery amongst the very people they are meant to guide and protect? If we continue to allow the church to keep people ignorant in family planning matters, more and more children will be born into families that cannot afford to feed and clothe them.

A colleague once asked me, “Why don’t we give every newborn child to the Catholic Church to feed them?”

The church would reply, “No, we already have too many to feed. We need more donations for the church.”

Bollocks! They are more concerned with maintaining their wealth and power, but what about the rest? They are eating good food whilst the rest of the country starves.

It really made me laugh when Carlos Celdran waved a placard written ‘Damaso’ before the mass in Manila Cathedral. ‘Damaso’ is the antagonist character in Noli Me Tangere of Jose Rizal. It’s just so right.

WHY DO WE WANT THE RH BILL?

The Philippines has a population of 101.8 million. It’s ALREADY over-populated.

Women are NOT made for childbearing and child rearing only. They should be allowed to enjoy the benefits of physical intimacy while maintaining a successful and productive career if they choose to do so.

To counteract the Catholic Church wishing every woman to be impregnated each time they engage in sex, unlike Virgin Mary who conceived without having sex at all.

Population decline helps strengthen the economy of a country. Take a look at just two particular examples within Southeast Asia – Japan and Singapore.

Having many children is NOT an asset, unless you own a big shopping mall or an airline company. But even successful people only have a few children. Maybe you could sell your babies to make money? Only then would a bigger family be considered as an asset.

The Catholic Church asserts that the RH Bill will encourage immoral activities. Are they of the belief that no single Filipino engages in pre-marital and/or extra-marital affairs currently? Do they honestly think that if RH Bill is passed, most Filipinos will grab a condom, and before long the whole country will be participating in a national orgy?

The RH Bill will NOT teach children to have pre-marital sex. Ironically it will help prevent so many single Filipino girls having unwanted pregnancies or teen pregnancies.

Its interesting to note the hypocritical attitude of the priests, bishops, and men of clergy who oppose the bill, when it is well known how expert they are when it comes to having sex – the legendary masters of erotic affairs.

The Catholic Church wants to continue manipulating the country and bury the destructive truth about their religion. Why can’t they be fair to the people? Their minds are as devilish as their actions and narrative.

But above all else, the primary goal of the RH Bill yearns freedom and choice for women. In the third wave of feminism, let’s give our sisters, our girl friends, our cousins and every Filipino woman an educated choice. And along the way, help all straight and gay men to live freely, with low expectation of infecting or being infected with HIV.

Let’s get the RH Bill passed!



SOCIAL MEDIA: ANOTHER KEY TO SUCCESS

One of the youngest and most noteworthy correspondents in our time, Mr. Joseph Madrigal, 25 years old and has already travelled half of the world interviewing a wide range of prominent people, in his quest to gather news and information, and tell the truth to the world.

His tale is one of the more unusual stories that have been publicized. It was a year since his graduation when he was not doing anything and could not get a job. He applied to the biggest television networks in the Philippines, but to no avail. He had no luck, and little prospect of securing any position.

Since he had so much time on his hands, he spent much of it online looking for work, but increasingly more on social networking sites. Mainly communicating with his friends who would post photos of themselves staying in different places throughout the Philippines. Throughout that time, he was still living with his parents. However, when he was online, he blogged about what was happening in the country. He wrote anything that was current and meaningful, not the usual nonsense on so many profiles. He then posted on his social networking accounts each time he makes a blog entry. He constantly updates his accounts. He had various blog sites of different topics aimed at different audiences, with varying views. All of which were a great success.

“It took me about six months before I realised that the number of readers of my blogs, and people who enjoy my articles were increasing!” said Eduardo.

This gave him tremendous self-fulfillment during the time he was down on his luck, and depressed about his lack of job prospects. Then, out of the blue, someone from a news network sent him an email asking I he would like to go for an interview.

“There’s something very witty we liked about this guy,” said the network manager of the news company, when asked about Mr. Madrigal.

And, this was the start of Joseph’s successful journey. But, before we ended our conversation, he told me:

“Recently, I checked my Facebook account to catch up with what everyone is doing nowadays. I was appalled to see some of the posts and shouts of my friends in my news feed. Most of them posted such silly or trivial things, but more worse, the made posts that spew hatred against others. I think this is not the meaning of social networking. Isn’t it much more worthwhile to use Facebook for something beneficial to yourself and to your friends?”

That said it. I guess people who do the same will oppose, but well, that is his opinion. Unfortunately, I agree with him.