Rizal valley community victim of development

By Reynald Ramirez

Some 1,400 families in San Lorenzo Ruiz Village have navigated through gutter-deep floodwater for more than four years, the effect of new housing projects and road developments in surrounding communities.


A child wades through filthy floodwater. Residents use bicycle to move around their community. Photo by Reynald Ramirez


Residents of San Lorenzo Ruiz Village Phase III in Taytay, Rizal have lived with a flooded road since 2014.

Emily Barran said the last time she walked along the 200-metre dry road was four years ago.

Barran said she wears rain boots to carry her two children to school every day, “I can’t let them go to school with wet socks”.

Residents have to balance themselves on a walkway as wide as a ruler to move around their village. Some residents volunteered to build the walkway for the community.

The water level in San Lorenzo Ruiz can be as high as four feet especially during typhoon season.

Catch Basin

The village is a marshland and has the lowest elevation in Taytay, Rizal.

People in San Lorenzo Ruiz became the victims of progress when roads in surrounding barangays were elevated to deal with flooding. As well, rapid urbanization and housing projects are happening around the area.

Because of this, San Lorenzo Ruiz became the catch basin of water from the more elevated area.

Health Concerns

Stagnant water from flooding creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos and can increase the transmission of communicable diseases such as malaria, leptospirosis and hepatitis said the World Health Organization.

“There are a lot of mosquitoes here in San Lorenzo especially at night,” said Barran.

Last year, eleven people were diagnosed with dengue in San Lorenzo Ruiz Village, said the Department of Health.

Residents suffer from athlete’s foot from wading in filthy floodwaters.

Barran has lost count how many times she has suffered from this fungal skin infection.

Flooded urban areas are also prone to bacterial infection like leptospirosis caused by exposure to rat urine.

When the floodwater level is higher tricycle drivers tend to turn down passengers going to San Lorenzo Ruiz. Residents also have to pay higher fare rate because tricycle drivers have to take the longer route to avoid the flooded road. Photo by Reynald Ramirez


Urban Poor

The local government of San Juan under the leadership of then-Mayor Joseph Estrada moved some 2,000 informal settlers from the city to the 17-hectare land in San Lorenzo Ruiz in the mid-1980s.

Families living along the Pasig River were also moved there under the Proclamation 704 of Former President Fidel Ramos in 1995.

Families living in San Lorenzo Ruiz are part of Metro Manila’s urban poor population.

Barran said they remain in a flooded community because they are poor. “We were left with no choice.”

Government Response

The local government of San Juan acquired the lot for their relocated residents in 1984.

San Lorenzo Ruiz is in Taytay, Rizal but the local government does not have jurisdiction in the area. The land title of San Lorenzo Ruiz has yet to be transferred from San Juan City to the local government of Taytay, Rizal.

San Juan City Legal Officer, Atty. Romualdo Delos Santos said the city government of San Juan is working to transfer the title by 2019.

Until that happens, Taytay Municipal Engineer, Ronaldo San Juan said no road elevation and drainage system projects in the village can begin.

San Juan said in anticipation of the land transfer, Taytay is working on the master plan for a drainage system and a road elevation project in San Lorenzo Ruiz Village.

Emily Barran and some members of the homeowners’ association started a petition to get the projects in the village fast-tracked and see the end to the flooded road outside their front doors.






Rizal valley community victim of development

Environment officials trace Boracay’s cesspools to underground pipes illegally built by locals

By: Katrina Domingo

Environment officials uncover a makeshift pipe discharging wastewater barely a foot beneath Boracay’s famous white sand beach

Government workers try to unearth a pipe that has been illegally discharging wastewater into the White Beach. The government has been trying to rehabilitate the island that has degraded over the years due to rapid modernization. Photo: Katrina Domingo

BORACAY ISLAND – Strong winds that blew along White Beach carried a pungent odor that reeked of feces and decaying food as environment workers found a murky puddle amid the powdery shore.

The workers dug into the fine sand to trace the murky water’s source and found some sandbags concealing a pipe that discharged dark-hued liquid and soapsuds.

“This is definitely waste water because it has a foul smell. Treated water would not smell as bad,” said Richard Fabila, the Environment Department’s officer in charge for Boracay Island.

The puddle was discovered a week after the island was shut to tourists in late April to give way to a six-month rehabilitation ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte. The president earlier said the island should be cleaned as it has turned into a “cesspool” over the years.

The blue pipe’s origin was traced to the nearby Sitio Manggayad, a residential area behind the beachfront stores located along the island’s Station 2.

Village chief Lilibeth Sacapaño said she allowed residents of low-lying areas to build their own drainage systems to avoid flooding in communities during the rainy season.

“When they asked for permission to build their own pipe, they told me it would only be used to discharge storm water,” Sacapaño said.

“I never thought they would abuse the discretion we extended to them,” she said.

The Environment Department has dismantled the pipe, but a recent Ground Penetrating Radar scan showed about 15 to 30 other illegal pipes were buried in different parts of the 4-kilometer beach.

“We will excavate those pipes because we can’t say Boracay has been cleaned if those discharges will not be stopped,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.



Water gushes into a drainage pipe that was intended only for storm water. Environment officials say this proves that locals tapped into the drainage system because water continues to flow through it even when it is not raining. Photo: Katrina Domingo

The wastewater problem of the island is largely due to businessmen and residents skimping on bills and sewer fees, said John Michael Santos, general manager of Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC), one of the island’s two water concessionaires.

Barely half of all business establishments in Boracay were connected to the sewage system, while only 5 percent of households were connected to it, data from the BIWC showed.

“If all houses and business establishments here are connected to the sewer, about 11.5 million liters of wastewater should enter our treatment plants daily. So far, we only treat about 6.7 million liters of sewage a day so 3 million liters of wastewater is unaccounted for,” Santos said.

Only two of the three villages in Boracay have sewage pipes connected to a treatment facility that filters wastewater before discharging it at least 600 meters away from the shore, data from the Municipal Sanitary Office showed.

Large resorts in the lone village that does not have a sewage line rely on septic tanks and sewage treatment facilities, data showed.

The government does not keep a record of the number of residents in the area and if each household has a septic tank that is emptied through syphoning services, an employee from the Sanitary Office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

“There’s no way to know which houses tapped into drainage systems, and which ones were properly connected to sewers unless we excavate all pipes,” the Sanitary official said.



The government has invested P1.4 billion to build larger drainage systems equipped with filtering mechanisms to solve the flooding problem in the island.

The Tourism Department’s infrastructure arm has been handing out information materials to educate locals about the difference of drainages and sewers, but the government has yet to allot funding to construct additional sewers in Boracay.

Cimatu said the government will first focus on filing cases against the likes of Sacapaño and other individuals who have been tolerating the discharge of wastewater into the beach.

Under Boracay’s Municipal Ordinance 307, households and establishments that fail to discharge wastewater into sewers or septic tanks will have to pay a P2,500 (approx. USD50) fine or be imprisoned up to six months.

Under the Clean Water Act of 2004, establishment that pollute any bodies of water in the Philippines will have to pay P10,000 to P200, for every day of violation.

“Irreversible water contamination” shall be punished with up to 12 years of imprisonment, and a fine of P500,000 “for each day the contamination continues.”

The hidden cesspools of Boracay are one of the many problems of the island. The government also vowed to solve the problem of illegal settlers on wetlands and forestlands, congestion, and the lack quality jobs before the island’s expected reopening in late October.

Environment officials trace Boracay’s cesspools to underground pipes illegally built by locals

More females in Nepali footwear industry

Five years ago women made up 20% of the workforce in the footwear industry in Katmandu. Today they are 50% and growing. Women are filling the labour shortage in Nepal created as men leave to take better paying jobs abroad.

Ramu Sapkota

Female workers step up to fill the labour shortage in Nepal’s footwear industry. Here women are stitching at Kiran Shoes Manu Manufacturers, Maharajgunj Kathmandu on 17 April 2018. Photo: Ramu Sapkota

17 April 2018. The hall of Kiran Shoes manufacturer hums late Tuesday afternoon as 225 women are busy stitching spectator shoes.
Manu Tramang left her hometown of Narathan at 17 after completing her school Living certificate.
She came to Katmandu and for the past six years she has been working at Kiran Shoes, stitching Gold Shoes.
Back then most of the workers were men but her uncle got her the job. The company gave her six months training and at 23 she is a veteran.
Over the years Tamang has watched the population of her shoe factory change.
Kiran Shoes is one of 150 shoe manufacturers in Nepal that employ 23 hundred 73 workers people, according to Ministry of Industry data.
She resisted neighbors who suggested she go abroad to earn more money. “I do not like to work at abroad if I got good job at my home country living with my family,” Tamang says.

Women a majority
About 1500 women of all ages work at Kiran Shoes. According to the company five years ago women made up 20 percent the workforce. But at Kiran Shoes it’s grown to 63 percent.

Kiran Shoes run 10 shoes stitching factories and employ 2,373 workers. Human Resources Manager of Kiran Shoes, Gaurav Basnet says industry is planning to hire as many as 2000 more female workers within a month.
Another footwear manufacturer in Katmandu, Coseli Challa Jutta has 35 female employees out of a workforce of 55.
Kamala Thapa from Dolakha district has worked for Coseli making upper of shoes for the past 10 years. Like Tamang she wanted to stay at home.
In 10 back when I was started to work here, majority were male. It was difficult to communicate with male worker because they did not treat us as male worker. But now It has good environment to here as female.

The manufacture of shoes is big business for the Nepal economy and it’s growing.
Data from Footwear Manufacturer’s Association of Nepal (FMAN) Nepali industries generate 19 billion rupees annually.
Chairman of FMAN Rabin Kumar Shrestha says 50 percent of workers in the Nepali footwear industries are female. “Five years ago the number of female worker at footwear industries was 20 percent.”

The growing number of women entering a traditional male profession is due to a labour shortage; record numbers of men leaving Nepal for overseas jobs.
Data of Department of Foreign Employment shows more than 1.8 million men went to work abroad in fiscal year 2015/16 – big increase from 2009/10 when 303,771 men went abroad.
Kiran Shoes HR manager Basnet says female workers are needed to fill in the space left by the men.
“To encourage female we are running the training program. It will make easy for them before started to work.”
As an incentive Kiran Shoes provides 10 thousand Nepali rupees allowance for each female during training.
Marketing Chief of Coseli, Khadka Shrestha says females are more likely to stay in the job than male workers because men immediately leave the job when they get a new opportunity.
Coseli’s current training program has 76 females of the 80 participants.
“Female workers give good business for us because they work hard,” he says.

Women are stitching shoes at Coseli ChallaJuttaindustryon Wednesday, 18 April,. Photoic: RamuSapkota

Life Changed
Steady employment at footwear industries has help to change the lives of female workers life.
Manu Tamanag earns 13,000 in a month working for Kiran Shoes. If she works overtime, she earns more money.
She spends salary for food and clothes. If money is saved she deposits it at her bank account.
When she started working at Kiran Shoes Tamang’s relatives and friends criticized and insulted her for taking a job that is for a lower caste (Sharki).
But Tamang says time has changed their views. “Friends tell me to seek job for them at footwear industries.”
Kamal Thapa, earns 25000 a month working at Coseli.
Her salary goes to pay her son’s school fees and food. She says now there is no need to demand money from her husband.
She got respect from their family member and society because she became self empowered.
Second Vice President of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal, Neeru Rayamajhi says more women in footwear industries shows that the paradigm shifts of Nepali society.
She says, “It is great achievement for society because now women are not only limited in their household work.”


More females in Nepali footwear industry

Davao human trafficking survivor leaves old life for designer home craft business

A human trafficking survivor learns handicraft skills and earns a stable source of income working for a local craft organization.

Bonding over braiding. Olivia & Diego founder Yana Santiago (right) visits Jay Ann (left), the lead artisan, in her rented room in Davao City every few weeks. Yana gives Jay Ann raw supplies and gives details about the next orders. They also discuss ways to improve the designs. Yana also takes this chance to see how Jay Ann and her son are doing. Photo: Keisha Halili

Jay Ann slips off her slippers before climbing the wooden staircase to a room on the second floor of a wooden house. She have been living there with her five-month old son for the past three years. She slowly pushes open the wooden door and tiptoes inside, careful not to make the wooden boards creak. Jay Ann is used to being discrete, entering rooms that look just like this one, and quietly submitting to nameless men who made her do whatever they want with just a few paper bills.

But this room is different. The four walls are hardly the size of a sedan, but inside, she makes a living out of making bracelets and necklaces out of upcycled old clothes.

At 28, Jay Ann is one of the 824 survivors of human trafficking in Davao City. She left the sex industry in 2012 to start a new life as a crafter. She now makes bracelets for Olivia & Diego in the comfort of her home. The Davao company sells handmade accessories by upcycling old t-shirts and combining it with colourful yarn.

Jay Ann is the lead artisan and loves her new life.

“Mas maayo diri kay walay amo. Naa lang ka sa balay, mukita na ka. Asa pa ka ana. (I prefer to make a living this way because I don’t have a boss. I work from home but I earn),” Jay Ann said.

Human Trafficking in Davao City

 Talikala, Inc., a non-government organization that helps survivors of abuse and human trafficking, estimates that in 2017 around 4,000 females are sex workers in Davao.

They range from nine to 74 years old with around 60% 2,400 younger than 18, the legal age for sex workers, says Talikala Executive Director Jeanette Ampong. But only 900 of all sex workers are registered with the city government. Davao is the only city in the country that has laws to protected sex workers.

 Social Entrepreneurship as the Solution

 Santiago and a group of friends created the company in 2013 as a spur of the moment decision to sell a product at a local bazaar in the city.

In 2014, they decided to expand to communities of women around the city and make Olivia & Diego a social enterprise.

One of the groups that responded was Lawig Bubai. Its members are survivors of human trafficking in the city. Talikala helped organize the group in 1995 to “unite, develop, and empower” them, said long-time member Lory Pabunag. They are given livelihood trainings, counselling, and legal advice.

“The women who did the trainings were perfect because the quality of their work is great. And they can even do better accessories than me and my friends,” Santiago said.

Santiago provides the women with the cloth, scissors, yarn, and other materials to make the bracelets. She used to deliver them to the Lawig Bubai center within the Talikala compound.

Jay Ann and seven other women from Lawig Bubai were the first to train in bracelet making in 2014. But now, she is the only one left in her batch.

“Ang uban man gud kauban nako reklamador. ‘Ay, dili ko ato kay sakit sa kamot.’ Bata pa man pud gud to sila. (The others in my group complained a lot. ‘My hand hurts.’ They were too young to understand,” Jay Ann said.

Santiago estimates that beginners produce an average of only five pieces per day. The tedious braiding process makes their hands sore from pulling the cloth.

That used to be Jay Ann’s average. Now, she can produce up to 30 pieces in a day. Jay Ann makes at least P30 for each bracelet. During peak seasons, like summer or Christmas, she earns up to P17,000.

“Sakto ra para makatigum gamay. Akong nagasto pampalit sa gamit sa bata. (I am able to save sa little. I buy things for my son with whatever is left),” Jay Ann said.

Weaving Into the Future

 As of this year, Olivia & Diego has regular clients from Canada, USA, Japan, Malaysia, Belgium, and Germany. As their orders increase, Yana aims to train other members of Lawig Bubai to become future artisans.

Jay Ann hopes that her success making handicrafts, earning an honest income and raising her son would encourage others to leave their old lives behind – for good. .

“Lipay na kaayo ko diri. Dili nako itago kung unsa ko sa una sa iya. Pero karon, kabalo ko ma-proud na sya sa akoa. (I’m happy with what I’m doing now. I’m not going to hide who I was before from him. But I think he’ll be proud of who I have become),” Jay Ann said.

Baby Ibarro cries at the sound of his mother’s voice. Jay Ann picks him up from the hammock and hands him a ball of yarn. The baby smiles.


How to Make an Olivia & Diego Bracelet

Davao human trafficking survivor leaves old life for designer home craft business

What Access to Credit Means for Unbanked Filipinos

Many microentreprenuers in the Philippines struggle to find the money to start or grow their businesses

BY Marishka M. Cabrera

Financial inclusion anchor photo
Weary bike riders take a breather in a pares and mami stand along a busy highway, one of the more than 800,000 microenterprises in the Philippines.            Photo: Marishka M. Cabrera

On Sunday afternoons, 35-year-old Carmelo An sells pares (beef brisket on rice) and mami (noodle soup) beside a gas station along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. On weekdays, he is outside a nearby university to sell to teachers, students, and their drivers.

An, like many entrepreneurs, left his job to start a business. He worked as a lead man in a construction site.

But money to set up his business was not easy to come by. Unlike middle class businessmen who own property and have other assets, An didn’t. He couldn’t go to a bank for a loan. Without access to basic financial services, such as a savings account, insurance, and an affordable credit line he turned to Iglesia ni Cristo, the religious group, for help.

Ang laking tulong [noong puhunan] sa akin. Nag-resign ako sa trabaho ko na walang kasiguraduhan na magkakaroon ako ng trabaho (Capital is important to me. I resigned from my job without knowing if I will be able to find a new one),” An says.

An’s predicament underscores the plight of many unbanked Filipinos. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank, shows only 4 out of 10 adult Filipinos have savings. Most of them keep it at home instead of banks.

An’s pares and mami stand is one of the more than 800,000 microenterprises in the Philippines. Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) make up 99% of all business establishments in the country. They account for more than 60 percent of the 7.7 million jobs generated in 2016.

Yet many microentrepreneurs still face barriers when it comes to starting and growing their businesses. The number of borrowers from the micro, small, medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector went down from 1.6 million in 2016 to 1.4 million in 2017. Almost half of the Filipino adults surveyed by the BSP had outstanding loans, with the majority borrowing from informal sources, such as family, friends, and informal lenders.

In An’s case, the church gave him the P5,000 ($100) working capital.

An bought a cart and two cauldrons, all second hand, from a relative. Within a month, he made back the P5,000 investment. He returned the money to the church, but they gave it back to him to re-invest. Soon he had earned enough to buy a new cart and a motorcycle.

Now that his business is established, An earns about P1,500 ($30) a day and on good days he can earn as much as P4,000 ($80).

Microentrepreneurs seen as risky borrowers

Dr. Gilberto Llanto, president of the government’s policy think-tank, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), says banks are reluctant to lend to low-income borrowers because they view them as a bad credit risk.

“It becomes a chicken and egg problem,” Llanto says. “There is no relationship simply because I haven’t given you a chance to establish that relationship because I don’t want to entertain your business. [As a bank], I’m more comfortable with the middle class people.”

In the same way, microentrepreneurs like An find banks complex and intimidating. An does not have an bank account and instead keeps all his savings at home. He applied for a cash card once, but lost it when his wallet was stolen.

Nahihirapan ako kaya hindi na ako nag-avail ulit. Kasi maraming kailangan, marami kang pipirmahan. Minsan yung pinipirmahan mo, hindi mo maintindihan (I found it hard so I didn’t avail of it again. There were so many requirements, so may papers to sign. Sometimes I couldn’t even understand what I was signing),” recalls An.

Solving the problem with technology

New tech companies are attempting to solve what traditional financial institutions are failing to address.

For example, Fuse, the microlending arm of local telecom company Globe aims to provide access to fair credit to the unbanked or underbanked sector.

Through a mobile wallet GCash, Fuse integrates a credit scoring system that can assess the credit worthiness of a borrower based on transactions.

“With this technology, everybody gets a fresh start where lenders won’t base off their decision from your past credit card history, savings, or loans behavior,” says Kim Seng, head of lending at Fuse.

Based on company data, so far Fuse has distributed P315 million in loans to 26,000 borrowers since it was founded in 2016.

“It is trying to address the injustice from the status quo—the opportunities are exclusive to the rich. The poor have very limited options that’s why it is hard for them to lead better lives,” Seng adds.

Along with Fuse, other start-ups are also in the market. Loansolutions.ph is a web-based platform that matches borrowers to banks and other lending institutions. Lenddo is a company that does credit scoring and identity verification using what they call non-traditional data, such as data coming from social media.

The goal of these companies is to allow more people to borrow from banks and other lending institutions. They do this by verifying the identity of the borrowers and assessing the risk on these borrowers—activities that many banks find time-consuming and costly.

Making financial services work

The BSP recognizes in its 2017 report on financial inclusion initiatives that digital solutions can significantly reduce transaction costs and expand reach. This allows banks and other financial institutions to serve the “hugely untapped low-income market.”

In 2000, the BSP formulated regulations that allowed local players to offer electronic banking services, Llanto says. Since then banks, telecom companies, and tech start-ups began offering digital financial services.

For physical banks, Llanto adds that the BSP relaxed regulations on documentation, ID requirements, and unsecured loans to encourage rural banks to engage in microfinance.

It is about making financial services work for new entrepreneurs like An to give them better opportunities to get out of poverty.

“I’m not saying that everyone will be successful, some will default, some will lose money in their businesses. But with financial inclusion you give them a better chance,” Llanto says.


What Access to Credit Means for Unbanked Filipinos


by Alexis Carlo A. Corpuz

  • Same-sex couples look to LGBT legislation filed in Congress in their quest to get the same benefits as heterosexual couples
Reverend Crescencio “Ceejay” Agbayani presides over the holy union of a couple in Hermosa, Bataan, Philippines. In a country that has no marriage-equality laws, unions performed by Reverend Agbayani are ceremonial and are regarded as a declaration of the couple’s love for each other.
Photo: Alexis Carlo Corpuz

The air-conditioning hums in the background as Reverend Crescencio “Ceejay” Agbayani of the LGBTS Christian Church Inc delivers his sermon during the holy union of Marc and Dimple in a small resort located in Hermosa, Bataan some 133 kilometres away from Manila.

“Sexuality is not a choice, but love is.”

Couples that make that choice, however, find themselves facing a lot of barriers. The Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country forbids same sex marriage. Like most countries in Asia, except for Taiwan , the Philippines has no marriage-equality laws. In fact, the Family Code of the Philippines states that “Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman.”

As such, same-sex couples can’t get legally married. Therefore, they don’t have the same legal and civil rights and privileges of heterosexual couples such as receiving a partner’s employment benefits, the security of having communal property, insurance benefits, and being able to adopt.

There are no official statistics on the number of Filipinos who identify as LGBT but an SWS survey found that a substantial number of Filipinos support the protection of the LGBT community from discrimination.

Love conquers all

Dimple (left) and Marc show their Certificate of Holy Union after undergoing the ceremony. Same-sex marriage is not recognized in the Philippines and the certificate carries no legal weight. Photo: Alexis Carlo Corpuz

About 50 friends and relatives of the bride gathered to celebrate the union between 30 year old Dimple, a Filipino transwoman, and Marc, a 77-year old man from Belgium.

The two met on a Facebook group for lady boys and according to Dimple, “We’ve had an on and off relationship for the past two years. We talk on Skype all the time.” Dimple says their conversations usually revolve around what Dimple is doing in the Philippines while Marc talks about his three children from his previous marriages.

It is their first time to see each other in person.

Dimple said the holy union was Marc’s idea. She said during one of their conversations, she mentioned that a friend of hers underwent the holy union in Manila and it was presided over by Reverend Agbayani.

Asked if she had any qualms about taking such a big step so soon, she answers “Wala naman yun sa tagal. Nasa feelings yun ng isa’t-isa.” (It’s not in the legth of the relationship. It’s how you feel for each other.)

Dimple says that the age gap, language barrier, and differences in culture doesn’t matter. She says their feeling for each other are clear. “Minsan mahirap magkaintindihan dahil pareho kami hindi magaling sa English, pero naiintindihan namin ang actions ng isa’t-isa.” (Sometimes its difficult to understand each other because the both if us aren’t comfortable with English but we do understand each other’s actions.)

LGBT Legislation

While the Philippines is one of the most accepting countries in Asia of the LGBT community, It was only recently that the House of Representatives approved the Sexuality Orientation or Gender Identity (SOGI). The bill criminalizes and prohibits discrimination and violence on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

But the lower chamber has yet to approve the Civil Partnership bill to legally recognize and protect the union of couples who do not marry in church, including LGBT couples.

Section 11 of the proposed bill will ensure “all benefits and protections as are granted to spouses in a marriage under existing laws, administrative orders, court rulings, or those derived as a matter of public policy, or any other source of civil law,” shall be granted to civil partnership couples.

Both bills are being championed by the country’s first transgender congresswoman, Geraldine Roman.

However, these bills are facing stiff opposition from Christian groups and the Senate.

LGBT legal recognition

Dimple puts on her wedding gown as a friend helps a few moments before her holy union. Photo: Alexis Carlo Corpuz

Belgium was the second country to legalize same-sex marriage and Marc is surprised the Philippines does not have marriage equality laws. Gender, he says, shouldn’t be the basis for loving someone.

“If you love someone then (its) ok! Boy or girl (its) ok.”

Before he met Dimple, Marc had been married and divorced twice and has three children.

He says gender makes no difference “Man, woman it’s the same. Love is love.”

Because the Philippines does not recognize his marriage to Dimple with only a certifiace, he cannot take her to Belgium. Although the LGBTS Christian Church has issued a Certificate of Union, Marc is doubtful the Belgian government will accept it. As such, he says bringing Dimple home is “impossible.”

Because of this, Marc plans to fly to the Philippines every year but he admits that it would be too expensive. He says “I will find a solution. I always find (a) solution.”

For her part, Dimple says that it while would be great if the Philippines finally recognized same-sex marriage so that LGBT couples could finally receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples, and clarifies she did not marry Marc for financial security.

According to her, “I’m just happy I finally found someone who accepts me for who I am and I can spend the rest of my life with.”




Car wash boy

Twenty-year old Francis Arsenio traded his schoolbooks and pens for rags and vacuum cleaners to work as a car wash boy and help provide for his family.

Tire Black.
20-year old Francis Arsenio shines a red sedan’s tire at a car wash shop in Pasig.
Car cleaner Francis Arsenio wipes the interiors of a sedan.

Francis was enrolled in a short course for automotive mechanics in his hometown Laguna, but had to drop out due to lack of funds. Lucky for him, his cousin in Metro Manila owns a car wash shop – the closest he can get into to pursue his love for cars.

Car wash boy