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Darnel (not his real name) lives with his family in an informal satellite community in the municipality of Calabanga. His parents and grandparents are neighbors in makeshift nipa huts which barely can be considered decent living structures on lands owned by the government, particularly by the National Irrigation Administration, as the site is part of the irrigation right of way. The cluster community in Darnel’s case count up to 12 households. For generations, the likes of Darnel’s family never own a piece of land to call their own nor dream in the distant future of owning one. There are many more informal cluster communities that ring the poblacion barangays of the town.
The boy’s younger siblings study at the nearby Central school in barangay San Francisco while the elder ones are enrolled at the local high school in barangay Sta. Cruz. His father owns a unit of the locally popular foot driven “padyak’ trike with attached passenger “cab” which transport residents from the market to the barangay for a minimum fare of P5.00. At the end of the day, the earning is not enough, as competition is stiff, to support the daily food intake of eight persons. The first trickle of morning’s income are spent for a bag of breakfast pan de sal. Darnel’s mother on some occasion accepts laundry job which is not a rewarding source to augment family finances. Both parents never finished high school.
Decades ago, the huge backlot popularly referred to as “Intramuros” at the parish of La Porteria used to host hundreds of informal settlers until it was cleared of occupants for the establishment of the private Dominican School. Some of the settlers were pushed down into the nearby paddy fields beside the parish which is officially referred to as “Muntinlupa.” Others found their way in some areas in the likes of Darnel’s place.
Meanwhile, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) the Philippine poverty incidence was estimated at 27.9 percent during the first semester of 2012, comparing this with the 2006 and 2009 first semester figures estimated at 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively, poverty remained unchanged as the computed differences are not statistically significant.
The report points out that during the first semester of 2012, a Filipino family of five needed PhP 5,458 to meet basic food needs every month and Php 7,821 to stay above the poverty threshold (basic food and non-food needs) every month. These respective amounts represent the food and poverty thresholds, which increased by 11.1 percent from the first semester of 2009 to the first half of 2012, compared to the 26.0 percent-increase between the 1st semesters of 2006 and 2009.
The food threshold is the minimum income required by an individual to meet his/her basic food needs and satisfy the nutritional requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), while remaining economically and socially productive. Put another way, the food threshold helps measure food poverty or “subsistence,” which may also be described as extreme poverty.
Taking serious note about the NSCB study, many of the people in the likes of Darnel’s family not only are the poor among the poorest but really, really dirt poor.
(With notes from the NSCB.)