How Can I Help? Poverty In The Philippines


On August 15th, I will go on a first time vacation to the Philippines and I am excited to return to the Asian continent.  It wasn’t even until this year that I started to have an interest in getting to know the country but I think it will be an experience for myself.  I joined this site today to gain insightful knowledge on what’s to come and I am glad to have read up on a lot of things.  

I saw a recently posted article titled “Surviving on Pag Pag in Manila” and this absolutely stunned me.  I’m a pilot (captain) in the U.S. Air Force, deployed 6 times, flown several missions over the Middle East, but what I saw here is something I did not expect.  During my times in Iraq and Afghanistan, the memories remained in my mind when we were out on patrol and handing candy out to local children.  While back on base, it was sad to see children on the other side of the barbed wire asking us for more candy or anything else we had.  This is truly what humanitarian relief efforts is all about and I was honored to have taken part in it.  

In the video, the lady selling the bags of garbage chicken straps for $0.50 a bag is just shocking to me.  Also, seeing the little boy begging his mother for a piece of the pag pag was even more of a tremor.  How can anyone survive on 20 pesos per day and I am curious to know what the Philippine government is doing to resolve this problem?  

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I have always been active in community involvement and in my spare time, myself and Ed have helped out with DAV (Disabled American Veterans).  We currently participate in soup kitchens and I enjoy making/serving meals to the poor.  I have also coached in the Special Olympics and loved seeing the reaction of the participating athletes.  In retrospect, I saw the comments some users have left on the video and how it is dangerous in the city of Tondo.  How I looked at it is that I have already been in more than enough hostile environments and situations in my career but I really want to know how I can assist those little kids.  

When it comes to the beleaguered, I have a melting pot for them and do what I can to assist.  This video has truly taught me at how blessed I am to be able to go out to eat when and where I want compared to these people.  If there’s a way that some of you are familiar with to help out, let me know and I’ll see what I can make happen on my end because this is just absolutely disturbing. Thanks.  

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  • shineamen

    i am not aware of what PI government is actually doing for poor peoples in the philippines, but its seems that rich filipino people and middle class people doesnt care much about their poor filipino ‘bros’.

    A poor filipino girl i know was looking for a job as a maid; she said to me that it is difficult to find a job here in PI cause rich people are selfish and dont care about poor people.

    i found out the same attitude In Ivory coast where i was living as a teenage with my family. Rich native people, especially the ones close to government or having high status in administration absolutely didnt care about their poor ‘bros. Maids preferred from far to work for a white guy than for a native rich guy, who treated them pretty bad.
    ingat every one

  • Mango Shake HA!

    Sounds like you’ve been about the world via deployments and such so you know how the rest of the world works. I get around myself, and can agree it is truly shocking the first time you experience the haves vs. have not’s in person. Best thing one can do, in my opinion, is try and not focus on the tangible (money, clothes, food) but rather the intangible (fix computers in a school, build a shelter, teach a skill, etc.). Volunteering your time in some constructive way…like you do here in the States (good on you for doing that by the way!) would probably do the most good for the most people. If you can teach someone, or a group of people, something you know — aside from being a pilot…because jets are expensive…you give the most precious gift – knowledge which can help turn a life around. I’ve seen it happen first-hand and there is nothing like it in the world. Give it a try. There are a ton of charities which can use a helping hand. Good luck Capt.

    • Zeus Dog Dog

      I just read what you posted. I have never thought of this, Thank you SO much. I have been thinking of how to help the people of the Philippines. I am not a rich person so I thought I could do nothing but your right. I can teach them what I know. I have 20 year’s knowledge on all phases of construction. I have a degree as a Ophthalmic Technologist and I am currently an Acoustic Designer. I will do my best God Bless

  • salamiha

    I’ve developed a belief over time in supporting initiatives to help other countries, but only when restricted to situations in which they truly don’t have the capacity to help themselves.

    I’ve volunteered for a city hall in the Philippines, working in a library. The local government plays good lip service to the library, but only provides enough financial support to keep the electricity running and pay the salaries. The library director, while I love her to death, is excellent at playing the pity card when encountering a foreigner whom she thinks might be able to help the library in some way, whether by providing materials (books, computers) or whatever. I’ve later come to learn that this was actually encouraged by the city mayor. The city could be funding for materials if they wanted to, but they instead rely on the assistance of foreigners. A well-stocked library at no cost to the government. What’s not enticing about that?

    Recently in Ghana, the country launched a program to start teaching computer skills in every senior secondary school (high school) in the nation. They didn’t have enough native teachers with IT skills to support such a broad program, so foreign teachers were brought in to the schools to help get the program started by teaching the students and training native teachers so they’d be equipped with the skills to do the teaching themselves later on. I was one of these teachers and did this for two years. This seemed to be an effective use of outside help. While far from a perfect program, the results were quickly evident. This program is still ongoing, but with more and more Ghanaian teachers in the drivers seat every year.

    The Philippines has many well-intentioned people who want to help the poor: endless charities, missionaries, Peace Corps, etc … Some of them are outstanding and generate real results, but it’s also easy to get into these things all fresh and rosy-eyed, wanting to save the world, especially when the plight of some these people so easily pulls at your heart strings. Often these initiatives end up creating a dependency situation, capitalizing on your idealism and with native populations never learning to help themselves, and this of course is ultimately counter productive. It can be a brutal world out there, but in many cases it’s the people we’re trying to help who are the ones best suited for the job. A child never learns to walk on its own until you let go of its hand.

  • shineamen

    salamiha, i appreciate your conclusion:
    “It can be a brutal world out there, but in many cases it’s the people we’re trying to help who are the ones best suited for the job. A child never learns to walk on its own until you let go of its hand.”

    learning people to get skill or to teach in their own country is very important.
    generally speaking , education and school are ideally one of the keys against poverty.

    i heard about different foundations and organizations helping poor children with ‘mobile school’.
    lately, i watched a documentary movie about young filipino shoolgirls, schoolboys and students doing this mobile school help;
    children were very thankful for that.
    The young guy who created that mobile school in Manila streets, got an award in the USA one year ago i think. What they are doing for poor an uneducated children touched me a lot.
    ingat everybody

  • Brendan

    Bro, I advise that you take heed to the indicators given by the previous posters. I say this simply because what you and I witnessed together in the Middle East is entirely dissimilar to the Philippines. The poverty in the Philippines is so distinct in where it really jerks you inside and is unforgettable. I do not say this to degrade the country but as you know, I lived there when my old man was in both Subic Bay and Clark.

    I understand that you’re ready and willing, but have you placed enough logic into this predicament you want to be involved in? There are still good people out there who long to assist the downtrodden like you and realistically, I suggest that you leave it to the powers that be for the time being. This is a timely situation and suitable outcomes do not take place overnight.

    I guess I’m just thinking safety procedures for you guys but on your upcoming trip, I don’t think too highly of it if you plan on going to Tondo to just start handing giveaways. It is just not a safe place for you and the gang to be at so I’m telling you to give it a lot of thought. Meanwhile, let’s take it down just a tad and come up with an action plan to see what we can do when you guys return. Your community work is effortless Tailpipe!

  • Charlotte AF

    This article is absolutely on point, but the sad part is that this problem has been ongoing for years. I last visited the Philippines in 2010, stayed in Manila for a couple of days and the poverty made me tremble. It is nothing like I have ever seen before and while visiting a restaurant, I saw three hungry children outside and I felt compelled to help. I asked them to go inside with me but they all shook their heads and said no while the manager immediately stopped me. He said they were not allowed inside and my response was if they don’t eat, then I won’t eat. I purchased three value meals and watched them all eat outside.

    I consider myself a tough chick with thick skin, but as soon as they were finished eating and I had to go, my eyes became watery. My take on these signs of famine is that the Philippine government should reassess their priorities and properly handle the poverty issue. After reading several articles and having watched the news on the country, it surely doesn’t seem like the homeless/hungry are even thought of. At this point, I can only hope that several charities and other such organizations would be willing to help.

    I hope you were successful in this endeavor, Capt. I respect those who truly want to make a difference and act on it. On a personal note, it is an honor to serve this country with you sir.

  • HomerPH

    poor people are everywhere in the world

    but if ur poor and hungry in ph its so hard for me to understand that, every time i go inside mcdo i see people often not finishing their french fries, or leaving meat on the chicken or coke in the cup, and many times its in the outside sitting area, when i sit next to the table it takes sometimes 20min for the worker to come and clean off the food and trash it, if i was a hungry ph kid i would just come there and get some free good quality food for free. so why r they still hungry, i dont understand

    also, many of then try to find little easy jobs like helping cars back up from parking spaces around the streets and stores, why not try to wash cars or motorcycles whole people go shopping, i mean they can just get some sope bathrooms and i often see rags or cleaning towels on the street so they can use it.

    i really dont understand how can there be hungry and poor people in the world, there is always a way!!!