Manila: Philippines, No end to misery at Manila’s ”Happyland” slums
A young girl wanders through the corridors at Happyland slums. Manila, Philippines. Saturday, July 1, 2017.
One year after Philippines President Duterte’s land slide election win the plight of more than 600,000 residents of Manila’s slums in suburban Tondo is getting worse. Poverty, severe malnutrition and disease is an everyday reality for the residents living within the putrid area just a few kilometres from central Manila.
The worst of the conditions can be found at Tondo’s ‘Happyland’ BRGY105 where the population has grown from around 3500 in in 2006 to more than 12,000 today.
Happyland is literally built around a dump, or many dumps were people daily wade through rubbish looking for anything of value. Tons of chicken scraps are collected from takeaways garbage bins; recycled by boiling the sold to hungry families the the slums for a few pesos.
The stench, heat and storms create a toxic combination of disease, but inadequate government health services mean the people of Tondo’s worst slum just get sicker and sicker.
Alan Niewald, founder of Las Vegas based US non profit Kilos Bayanihan, says the problem at Tondo is magnified at Happyland and has become a multi-generational trap.
“Education is extremely important in the Philippines but most children do not attend school because the parents have to choose whether to feed their children or send them to school then possibly not have enough food to feed them. I’s a tough decision!,” Niewald says.
“There is a lack of opportunity to improve their lives. There should be more livelihood or community training programs available. There is also the age restrictions that most employers have. This also makes it harder to find a job. Most of the homeless are usually from the province that come to Manila to try and find a better life but end up homeless.”
Niewald admits: “I don't see anything being done by Duterte to change anything.”
On his first anniversary Duterte declared he wanted to give every Filipino “comfortable life for all”.
Duterte should try telling that to the forgotten people of Happyland who live a daily nightmare.