Despair is only a few steps away - Part One
Despair is only a few steps away, each day Ann and I go for a walk or when its cooler we go cycling around the area called Sibulan in Negros Oriental one of the larger Filipino Islands. We pass through a beautiful tropical garden that is kept neat and tidy by its Filipia owner and her Swiss partner, there’s a pristine clean swimming pool and many rare orchids some in magnificent bloom.
Once past the main gate we are then greeted by the sights of poverty, one amazing thing the Filipino poor keep themselves clean, but the ragged clothes tell the true story. However those in deep poverty not only look ragged but dirty as they can not afford the soap to keep themselves clean.
Yesterday evening whilst walking pass the local Catholic church we noted the many beggars sitting and crouching at the church gate, some where singing Tagalog or perhaps cebuano songs, see a sample on youtube. Where as others shook a tin with a few peso to draw the attention whilst showing the desperations of the plight of being to old or crippled to work and no family to care for them. I took the chance and broke the local law by giving these poor people a few coins my loose change. It’s illegal in most cities and towns to give beggars money.
We walked on to the local market to buy vegetables, rice and fish, Ann likes to also buy dried fish of which I eat my self but never let her cook it in the house due to its horrible smell when being cooked. Many poor Filipino’s that come from a poverty ridden background and achieve to get a good education a good paid job. Where as they are able to buy fresh meat and fish, are seemingly hooked on the taste of dried fish. Perhaps my own addiction to rice of which I need to eat every day is just as crazy. I realized that after my 4 year living here, when I took my yearly vacation in China or Hong Kong.
In the market the main fish on sale that day was very small fish of which is extremely cheap at 40 peso a kilo (US$0.70 cents, 35 pence UK). However we bought the bigger fish at 100 peso per kilo. (US$ 2.10, 1 pound 5 pence UK). We see the rice prices had risen the cheapest 17 pesos and the high grade 35 peso per kilo this must be having a great effect on the living standards of a poor family with 8 or so kids.
A warning to those thinking of taking a holiday in the Philippines, but not just only to enjoy but to help bring hard cash into a poverty related economy. Don’t buy your food in fly infested markets or eat from street vending stalls whilst on holiday. It’s took my stomach many years to be immune to the nasty bugs, in fact I am more immune than Ann my Filipina partner. You will however be very welcome here, but like everywhere else in the third world paradise has its hell.
On my evening walk I took some pictures to give you an idea what its like in a provincial town in the Philippines.