What did I learn from Touring the Slums (Part 2)?


7. It’s tough to be educated in Baseco.

There are two schools closely located in Baseco. The average teacher to student ratio is 1:75. When I was a child, the average is 1:45.

The big problem is not the student-teacher ratio. Personally, I feel that the largest problem is the road to school comes with a lot of temptations.

There are makeshift piso pay net centers in Baseco. A sample of Piso Net computers from OLX:

Piso pay.jpg

For many boys, it’s hard to stay in school if you are tempted with Php 1 for 5 minutes of computer and Internet use. That’s why, many piso nets do not allow children wering uniform to okay during schooldays.

There are many children who are also NOT in school in Baseco. How can you be encouraged to go to school if many of your friends are not, and are playing in their free time?


There aren’t a lot of children who would like to go to school. Many of them, given a choice, would rather play than study.

Given that many parents work to sustain their families, and there are so many kids per family, it’s really hard to monitor each and every child’s education. Given harsh circumstances, it’s better to ensure that the family is fed instead of ensuring the kids stay in school.

But there is less of a future to those who do not have good education.

Many kids in Baseco do not have the luxury of a good education. And hence, will remain in the cycle of Baseco till they too will have families.

8. There aren’t a lot of assistance from politicians.

The Baseco slum dwellers compared their experience with a Dutch NGO who brought 18 doctors, a lot of medicine, and ZERO media, to a very popular politician who went for a medical mission last year with 3 doctors and busloads of media.

Have you ever wondered why such charity is widely reported in the news? It’s because they  brought their own photographers to document the event!


Here in Baseco,” they stated a matter of factly, “They (politicians) only come during elections. And if they come, for sure, they will bring media.”

That’s the sad thing: Everything is just a publicity stunt.

Filipino politicians care less about their fellow countrymen than the white doctors who flew in all the way from the Netherlands, brought medicine and gave it out for free, and saw 150 patients every day for 7 days.

And here lies the hypocrisy of the Philippines: We always tell ourselves that we should love our own. We should love our countrymen. And yet, we fail them when they need us the most.

9. Gina Lopez did a lot of good in Baseco.

Surprisingly, the people were very appreciative of Gina Lopez’ work in Baseco.

Her mangroves still live in the area. Systematically placed, they protect the dwellers from large tides and adds greenery to the trash.


Gina built a community center, which ironically now has the name of Cynthia Villar on it. Technically, it was Gina Lopez’ project which Cynthia Villar finished. However, it is Villar’s name that is on the small building.

Much of the trash was cleared away though some remain. Garbage is collected twice a week in Baseco to keep the trash from piling up.

So authentic help is available for Baseco dwellers. It’s just that help came from the private sector, and not really the public one.

10. Pagpag isn’t something that’s eaten by all.

Baseco slum dwellers eat dried fish or mollusks, the latter of which can be bought from the local fishermen. They do not really eat the famed pagpag, which is leftover foods from restaurants that’s already thrown away but collected by scavengers to be recooked and sold to the poorer population.

Pagpag isn’t super expensive — around Php 20.00 can buy you a bag. Php 50 will get you a larger bag.

I saw where they sourced the pagpag,” our guide said. “It’s what the pigs eat.”

At the end of the day, many of the Baseco slum dwellers are still people, and they refuse to eat food fed to the pigs.  Still, it was good for me to ask and satiate my curiosity.

If you would like to see the slum tours by yourself, you can always sign up for Smokey Tours and they usually have a tour per request!

Have a good weekend everyone!

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