Child labour is common in The Philippines. More than 4 million children work as fisherman, hunters, farmers, factory workers, street vendors, and most commonly as scavengers; collecting recyclable materials and scraps to exchange for cash. Most of these children are male, aged between 10 and 17 years old. Quite often they are the primary income earners for their families, as unemployment is very high. The conditions in which some of these children work are very hazardous. Heavy lifting, physical hazards, and work related injuries are common.
The inhospitable and overcrowded slums around Manila are symbolic of modern day poverty, where there are illegal squatter camps everywhere, deteriorating government housing projects, as well as many people engaged in illegal jobs and activities. Recent government initiatives on eradicating slums and squatter camps have had very little impact.
More than 70,000 families live along the edges of the nearly 30 waterways in Metro Manila. The tin and wood dwellings are tightly packed in, sometimes 3 stories high, with no sanitation and very little natural light. Garbage collects in the waterways and clogs its drainage system, so that any slight downpour or typhoon causes flooding in many communities. Metro Manila also has a combined septic and storm-water system so that when it floods, human waste is expelled onto the streets.
Families send their children out to scavenge, as they don’t have the resources to feed them. Many people do what any parent would think impossible to do, and just abandon their children to the street. Many other children become orphans due to the high mortality rate, mainly due to illness and crime. This has led to the world’s largest population of street children. In Metro Manila alone, there are at least 100000 street children.