Monday, August 21, 2006


There's nothing new with the all the stories about the hopelessness of the Philippines -- of wanting to leave for greener pastures abroad, of economic and political crises, and of the growing gap between rich and poor -- but perhaps what doesn't get enough press are all the different ways that Filipinos are coping. Here are some stories:

The young gentleman pictured above is a sculptor and itinerant salesman from Bacolod who travels once in while to other parts of Negros to sell his wares. His sculptures are made from driftwood, each one taking him a couple of days to finish. No formal training, he says, it's just a skill he picked up. His work could stand a little bit of improvement, but as it is, it can already fetch a high price given the proper marketing and avenues for sales. Can you say eBay? But the poor fellow doesn't even have a cellphone.

For the less-skilled urban denizen, here's a Filipino twist on what seemed to me like a predominantly American idiosyncracy: the walking billboard. I came across this young man in Cebu, promoting a fast food chain.

And, of course, there are the traditional means of earning a living. These are fishermen unloading their catch on the beach of Rizal Boulevard after an early morning fishing trip.