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Children in the Philippines: “No Time for Play’ What brand of sugar are you using right now? Where was it made? Do you know what went into the making of your sugar? It could be the blood of a child, the sweat of a child, the tears ofa child. Now, as I read about child labor, I look down at the pack of sugar I am using. I twist it around in an attempt to get a look at the tag, I can read the plain white tape into the tag: “Manufactured in Negros Occidental”.
As I slowly put the sugar on the table, I think about what it means. Negros Occidental is the major producer of sugarcane and a major home to child labor.
According to DOLE, an estimated 3 – 5 million working children are there in the Philippines. As likely as not, the pack of sugar I’m using is the product of some unfortunate child forced by circumstances to work away his or her childhood in a sweatshop.
It feels sad that what we use as our daily commodity is the work of the poor Filipino children. “The child is the father of man. ” This famous line quoted by William Wordsworth refers to the importance of the child for the development of society as well as for the all-round development of the human race.
Childhood is the time to garner the best hysical, intellectual and emotional capacity to fulfill this duty towards the nation and to one’s own self.
However, this simple rule of nature has been crippled by the ever- growing menace of child labor. If one conceives the idea of child labor, it brings before the eyes the picture of exploitation of little, physically tender, illiterate and under-nourished children working in hazardous and unhealthy conditions.
As what we saw last Tuesday, September 7, 2010 in our film showing about Social Class at the Educational Media Center of CPL], it is very depressing that many Filipino children are under child labor. In Sudtonggan, Cebu children are carrying piles of marble stone on their head. In Diwalwal, Davao del Norte, children are laborers through the night. Children at about 12 years old are mining in deep tunnels. Mining is a very dangerous Job because going inside the tunnel is a 50/50 chance that you can get out alive.
A lot has already been died inside the tunnel due to dynamite smoke, falling rocks, and avalanche. Many children also died because of mercury poisoning from the fish that they eat because in making gold the ore that the miners collect are mixed with water and mercury and the mercury deposits are disposed nto their lands leading to the sickness of their people and themselves. We also saw in the film, a girl named Angeli Cabrera, a 10 year old girl who lives at Manapla, Negros Occidental.
Angeli used to work in a hacienda (a sugarcane factory) in their place and earn not as much as 50 pesos a day. Due to her work she is always absent lost one of her finger, her classmates used to tease her, she said to her classmates she got wounds not because of playing but because of hard work. There are also cases especially in Ormoc, Leyte where children are told or brainwashed by a recruiter that there is a good Job in their place. The recruiter will bring them into the ship to Manila and force them to work in a sweatshop instead of working in a good job as a saleslady.
The worst part of it is that they are imprisoned. The children are not allowed to send letters to their parents. The imprisoned children struggled in the sweatshop. Hopefully the Kamanglayan Development Center retrieve the children in that sweatshop and imprisoned the recruiter behind it. Now the Kamanglayan Development Center are monitoring children that travel to Manila by the boat and the most successful organization for working children. Can you imagine that millions of children are working nowadays? It’s a mere fact and a big frustration to us all.
More and more children are forced to child labor because of poverty. They had suffered hunger and thirst, pain in the body and pain in the heart. They had sacrificed their life – instead of playing they are working, instead of studying they are sweating. Working children are deprived of playing. Children are supposed to play and not to work in sweatshops because being a child doesn’t last forever. They should enjoy their childhood and be happy with his or her amily; yet it is a big wake up call to us all that not all people live within their means.
Filipino families suffer the economic crisis of our country. Many parents work hard and still cannot fully support their family and that is why children are forced to work because they pity their parents and they work in order to help them. The love that the Filipino children give to their parents is very noble yet the way they help their parents is too much, child labor is not the best way to help their parents. Children are suffering and shouting “No time for play’. Yes, poverty has greatly ruled the land yet when will this suffering end?
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