Crowd-Source & Curated Progressive Pinoy Perspectives

Richeline Mascarinas


Rich Mascarinas, a junior Journalism student, Quezon City

The Working Children of SM North Edsa

  • July 19, 2011, 2:48 a.m.
  • = Responses

A lot of kids are still at work.

I’ve always feared crossing busy streets since I got hit by an FX sometime in my high school. Maybe this is one reason I look up to kids I always see in the streets on my way home and in the streets on the way to SM North Edsa.

These kids are of the same age I guess, based on their height and their other physical characteristics. They are all wearing dirty ragged clothes while some don’t even wear slippers. They run in the middle of the street as if the streets are nothing but their playgrounds and the cars that they try to avoid are nothing but their toy cars. It's as if they're playing patintero with the vehicles.

These kids go up the jeepneys with envelope on their hands. They’ll give each passenger an envelope, and this they do why the jeepneys are moving. The envelopes are already worn out, unconsciously painted dirty white by the kids’ hands. These envelopes have notes written on it, like “Palimos po konting barya pang kain lang” or “Meri Xmas po” during Christmas season.

Most of these kids have with them little drums made of cans covered with cloth which they play after giving the envelopes to the passengers, like musicians in entertainment shows who get paid after their numbers.

However, these little musicians do not always get paid. Most of the time, no passenger even gets a single centavo from his or her pocket or purse to put inside the envelope. Some go on with their head banging while they listen to music through their earphones, while others look away and stare outside the windows.

Oftentimes, passengers shout at these kids for them to leave the jeep because the driver won’t go on driving with them inside or with them holding on to the bars of the jeepney's entrance. Some drivers are scared that they might fall off.

Also, countless times have I heard of passengers saying these kids are only being used by syndicates or their parents are just too lazy to work for their families. I don’t see the latter as enough reason to generalize. I also see a lot of adults, some of them I believe are the parents of some of these kids, selling rugs to the drivers despite the scorching heat of the sun.

I have seen these kids for so long but it's only now that I took time to write about them when a question came into my mind while watching news.

News often show DSWD workers talking to minors who are either abused by their parents or accused of petty crimes. If the DSWD workers can be there on t.v., then why can't they be where these kids are? Why are these kids not yet being taken into custody by the DSWD? After all, their parents seem to be incapable of providing their needs. The streets of Kalayaan, Visayas and North Avenue are busy streets, how could the people of DSWD escape them? I would take it as impossible if not one from the DSWD ever saw these kids.

But I had a second thought. If the DSWD were to act on this and they managed to get every single kid doing child labor in the streets, will it actually solve the problem? At first glance, may be yes. The streets would be free of beggars and the tourists whom the government have always wanted to please might even clap! Then I felt a little stupid.

Of course, it won’t. Lack of employment opportunities for the parents--stemming from their lack of education-- would only drive their future kids to do the same work. Or if it were really the syndicates to blame, then they’ll just continue their operations and haunt for other kids until the judicial system gets all-too impressive. What then could solve this problem if it cannot be isolated from the many other problems in the society?

Well, I have another reason for looking up to those kids running to and fro the busy streets that I fear – their courage to face the thousand problems of the country with smiles on their lips. I’m also considering their talent in singing beautiful indigenous melodies accompanied by just the right beat of their little hand-made drums.

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