Jerlyn Flores was a former Night High Scholar from Siena College, Taytay, Rizal who graduated at the end of S.Y. 2010-2011. She is now a 1st year college scholar at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, majoring in BS Marketing. She is part of the Bosch Class of 2010.
For most of my life, I have lived in Upper Cuatro Brgy. San Juan, Cainta, Rizal. It is a squatters’ area, a place where you can see poverty: many children, shanties, unemployment, gambling, drugs, etc.
As I wake up each morning and look around outside my home, I and see and hear adults gossiping about the lives of others; doing nothing instead of finding ways to earn a living; I see and hear children crying, playing, running around, and coming from all directions. Sometimes I wake up hearing neighbors having family squabbles, shouting and exchanging hurtful words with each other. Sometimes neighbors fight with each other, threatening to kill one another. I have become accustomed to these kinds of scenes.
During weekends, there is some kind of gambling going on near our house, like cock-fighting or cara y cruz (a type of coin game). It seems like a ritual to the men as they choose to gamble their money on things like that, instead of spending their hard earned money on food for their kids; they choose to gamble for the chance to double the amount of money they have.
I see others drinking liquor early in the day accompanied by a videoke machine or some kind of music DVDs, singing their hearts out. Sometimes I wish they would keep their talents to themselves because of their not-so-good or out-of-tune voices. There is drinking and singing till the wee hours of the night. I have gotten used to it but sometimes I sleep late because of the noise. Sometimes I wake up late at night to the sound of voices quarreling, glass breaking or things being destroyed – by people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many of my neighbors quarrel because of money. I hear wives asking their husbands how they will survive without money to buy food for the family. Sometimes I hear husbands coming home late, and when they don’t find any food to eat, start throwing things in their kitchen.
Each and everyday on my way to school, or wherever I am going, I see how overly populated our place is. I see people living in shanties or what they call “houses,” with so many relatives squeezing themselves into a very small space – a living room, dining room, bedroom, everything all-in-one room. Aside from having a lot of kids in one household, they have other relatives coming from the provinces, trying their luck in finding jobs here in Manila. If not that, then it’s relatives who are unemployed trying to find shelter with other relatives, adding to the host family’s expenses.
Poverty and unemployment rate are so high in our community. That is why there are so many teenagers who are not fortunate enough, who stop their schooling after high school and sometimes there are those not fortunate enough to even finish high school.
Teenage pregnancies become rampant. Sometimes some of the teenage mothers are younger than me. They used to hang-out with friends, doing things like drinking and other activities not good for teenagers like us. Their parents are unable to watch or guide them because of so many other things they must attend to.
I am lucky enough to have loving, God-fearing and family-oriented parents who guide us and advise us or sometimes reprimand us gently whenever we make mistakes.
Now that I am about to finish high school, I want to pursue my studies and finish college in order to have a career and a good job and to be able to provide my family a better future; to leave this place to find a better home where I can find peace and harmony and better surroundings. And I hope to fulfill my dreams in the near future.