Philippines and Anti-Begging Laws

Addressing Mendicancy

In a country that boasts a population of over 101 million people, of which over 25% of the population lives below the poverty line (based upon a monthly per capita income of P10,534), it is not a big surprise to see beggars in the streets of nearly all cities and villages throughout the Philippines. Actually, it should be expected. While there is an existing national law that prohibits the public from giving alms to beggars, these outstretched hands continue to exist because there are still people who support their illegal activities.

I see it everyday here in Calbayog City. While I do see some people give foodstuffs to some beggars, others still give money to these mendicants. I sat at a local eatery one day and observed an older man (in his early 60’s) take everything that was given to him and, like a vacuum cleaner, he sucked up coins, paper notes, bakery goods, and leftovers from the eating establishment. I noticed that as he sat there looking decrepit, he would take the most recent deposit from his cup, leaving one or two pesos in the bottom, and secure rest in his “bulging” pocket. His pocket was not bulging from coins, but from a bankroll I seen him extract to wrap a recent P20 note that was given to him. My guess is that he could be making double the average daily wage, maybe more! I also seen a well-kept young woman approach him with a package full of baked goods, like bread rolls. When she handed it to him, he waited for her to walk away then immediately hid the entire package under his shirt and continued with his outstretched paper cup. I can remember giving this enterprising gentleman a few pesos in the past, but not any more! The more I observed this guy, the more I am convinced that he is healthy enough to be working an honest job – doing something.

Beggars-and-Children1.jpg
Exploited childrenI remember my wife telling me of a middle-aged Asian woman panhandler regularly located on the corner of our Wal-Mart parking lot back home in Mississippi. She was seen in the Subway sandwich shop one day ordering a sub sandwich and she tipped the cashier Two Dollars! I’m guessing there must be good money in the begging profession if you find the right corner to set upon!

Here in the Philippines, the Anti-Mendicancy Law or Presidential Decree No.1563, was issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos in June 11, 1978. This law was designed to control and eventually eradicate widespread street begging in the Philippines. According to the provisions of the statute, minors under 15 years old caught begging are deemed neglected children and can be apprehended by the Department of Social Services. Those under 8 years old who are found begging or being used by a mendicant for purposes of begging shall be “rescued” as a neglected child under the Child and Youth Welfare Code. Adults are subject to heavy fines and can be imprisoned for up to four years. While I always knew it was wrong to give these people money, I assumed it was okay to give them food. WRONG! People found giving money or gifts to mendicants are also liable to be fined.

Beggars-and-Children2.jpg
Giving Alms
Since its implementation, the law has been controversial because for the most part, it was ineffective and not only addressed professional beggars, but also religious organizations, Christmas caroler’s, and the genuine poor who were unable to find work. Missionaries were also affected in that they were unable to request donations while preaching, even though these donations were passed on to the church and were not depended upon for their livelihoods. Villagers and poor provincial people moving to cities looking for work claimed that the statute criminalized poverty.And since settling here, we recently became aware that in December 2014, the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) upheld the statute and further forbade the public from offering donations to Christmas caroler’s under the terms of Presidential Order No. 1563. The DSWD has been tasked by the law to conduct an intensified information campaign to educate the public that they only contribute to lawful fund-raising projects and prevent the community in giving alms, except if it will be done through organized and legitimate agencies.

I’m still waiting for someone to knock on my door and include me in the education campaign… that we shouldn’t be handing money over to the needy. And while I am waiting, and since I have apparently been in violation of anti-mendicancy laws since my arrival, I wonder if it is possible to clear the slate and file for a government rebate for the last two Christmas caroling seasons? Just because we were not properly informed.

Next thing you know, the Philippines will pass an Anti-Mail-Order-Bride Law. Oh, wait… they already did that (RA 6955). Sorry guys!

Source: Original blog post – http://livinginthepacific.com/philippines-and-anti-begging-laws/
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Expat Focus Interview

A while back, I was interviewed by Expat Focus, an online magazine for “Anyone Moving or Living Abroad.” That published interview follows:

Randy – Retired in Samar

Randy Landis

Who are you?

My name is Randy and I was born and raised in Illinios but, our family roots have long since been transplanted in Texas. I spent over 20 years with the U.S. Navy, some time thereafter with the National Weather Service, and eventually wound up my second career as a real estate broker. My wife and I lived and worked our last 20 years while residing in Tupelo, Mississippi. I retired to the Philiippines at the age of 58.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We settled in Western Samar, the home of my wife’s relatives. Because of the economic climate in the U.S. at the time, we made the decision to close our two businesses, sell the house and our vehicles, liquidate all the stuff we didn’t want, and moved to the Philippines in July of 2013.

What challenges did you face during the move?

The biggest challenge was detaching ourselves from all the “stuff” we had accumulated in the last 30 years. We eventually decided to keep our furniture and all sentimental things, and liquidate everything else. That which we kept we shipped to our new home in two containers. One other challenge was bringing our two loving pets and the documentation process that was required. Travelling half way around the world with two felines is not an easy chore but, it was worth it in the end. One thing we managed to accomplish before we made our move was to get a good start on building a home here. We purchased property here several years before and over time, did our construction in managed stages. Once we arrived, all we had to do was finish up in time for our household goods shipment. 6 weeks after arriving, we moved in.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes, there are expats from the US, UK, Australia, along with some from several European locations.

What do you like about life where you are?

Although we did choose to settle here because of family, Samar turned out to be a good choice. It’s provincial, with a slower pace of life, lower cost of living, no traffic issues, little crime, and very friendly people. We have a nice home on a large lot with all the amenities possible (especially air conditioning). Samar also offers uncrowded beaches and an abundance of natural beauty you will not find on some other islands or in the larger metropolitan areas. Now that we have arrived, a new mall and major grocery chain is building here.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Generally speaking, life is good. Communicating can be a real challenge as English is not widely spoken among the majority crowd here. Sanitation and environmental neglect is always a concern that requires turing a blind eye to most times. Overall, my biggest issue here are the inconveniences brought on by untimely power interruptions and the generally poor internet service.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest difference has to be food variety. My menu liking is quite expansive so I don’t have a big problem with food choices, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I miss a good steak, pizza, cheeseburger, or some good Mexican food at times. My wife has learned to do very well with the availabiliity of ingredients and has learned to do some hybrid cooking.

One of the more obvious differences here is the loss of space and privacy as families tend to live in much smaller houses and under more cramped conditions. This leads to an under appreciation of overall privacy issues with the population (they do not understand the concept of privacy). Living in a non-secular and predominately christian society has its advantages also as everybody seems to be living on the same wavelength, much unlike where we came from.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Simply, I will say this. Know what you want, where you want to go, and what you are jumping into. Take your time, and never get in a big hurry to get where you are going. If you have never lived or visited extensively to the area where you plan to settle, then “Research” and “Plan” should be the two most prevalent words in your vocabulary. And if you have never been there, visit often before you make the move. Also, anybody moving to the Philippines should be aware that they will be hard pressed to make a living here so arriving with an established income is real necessity. Did I mention having a plan? My Blog documents much of our personal planning, decision making, and the actual moving process that we encountered in making our move abroad.

What are your plans for the future?

Aside from relaxing, maintaining good health and growing older, our plans include some international travel and definitely some local island hopping to visit with other friends and relatives scattered about. I may be Retired in Samar, but that doesn’t mean I buried my bucket list.

Keep up to date with Randy’s adventures on his personal blog, Retired In Samar.

Filipino Time and Poor Communications – Unplugged!

Filipino Time – Unplugged!

I am thoroughly convinced that there are a complete set of Murphy’s Laws… Filipino version, that are in play. Just as sure as the world turns, Murphy could just as well been of Irish-Filipino descent, because the perceived perversity of the universe will just as easily catch up with you here in the Philippines as it will anywhere. In the Philippines, “timing” is everything and is also nothing. It is a phenomenon all its own. It seems to work well and in conjunction with Mr. Murphy’s “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” theory. Timeliness in the Philippines is mainly dependent on a system of timekeeping that is historically unique to the Philippines. And yes, the Philippines is measured by the same 24 hour-long day as anywhere else. There are no shortages of clocks or cellphones, and many people sport watches, but it is the phenomenon of “Filipino Time” that distorts time which is the blame for everything that is good and bad about timeliness. What really needs to be understood about Filipino Time is that there are many underlying factors that dictate all outcomes, much of which can be better explained as being related to timing factors’. In another “Filipino Time” article, The Origin of Filipino Time, I describe the origin of “Filipino Indios Time” and its historical significance. I further confirm that Filipino Time is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “The official timing of the Philippines” and in summary simply means things get done whenever they get done.

Contributing Causes

In my real-time example below, I use transportation as the primary contributing factor which indicates that “Filipino Timing” can never be calculated nor can it be predicted. And because the majority of the population in the Philippines is heavily reliant on public transportation, any single factor alone is only as critical as all the passengers, driver, traffic, and external factors allow it to be. When you take a Jeepney for example, you essentially depend on the ‘timeliness of an entire nation’, and it alone can be one of the single most contributing factors to the variables of punctuality. In addition to transportation, there are a myriad of other reasons that can affect whether anyone ever shows up anywhere on time, and I have included a few additional factors that drive how and why this particular scenario plays out as it does.

1. Transportation
2. Weather
3. Power outages
4. Traffic
5. Communications

Everyone is Waiting For a Jeepney!

Everyone is Waiting For a Jeepney!

The Scenario”

Imagine yourself and 3 friends all agree to meet for some conversation over a few evening cocktails and you all agreed to meet at a pre-determined place at the scheduled time of 4:00 pm. With just the five variables listed above, it can equate to hundreds of possible scenarios as to why this planned get together simply will not happen. Your spouse has gone to the market and knows to be home in time (a unique variable all its own) so you can promptly leave for your 4pm meeting. You must wait until she returns because there is nobody else available to stay at the house to keep an eye on things.

A crowded Jeepney

She leaves the market on time to head home, but her tricycle driver has trouble with his motor. After a few minutes, she unloads herself and quickly jumps into another tricycle and is then taken to her Jeepney pick-up spot. There, she waits through 4 Jeepneys until one comes along that can accommodate her with space for her and two large packages. But, all of a sudden, cousin Jamille (who she has not seen in months) just shows up out of no where, and for nearly ten minutes they swap chizmiz (gossip)with each other (yes, she missed that Jeepney!) until they eventually part ways. It’s another 5 minutes before another Jeepney with a vacancy arrives. Now on board, the Jeepney heads out and just then a large thunderstorm breaks loose with a heavy downpour and frequent lightning. With nervous and frightened passengers, the driver pulls alongside the road for 10 minutes until Mother Nature lets up. While sitting idly by waiting for the storm to pass, the driver realizes that when the rain stops, it would be good time to re-fuel the Jeepney. So he pulls into a station that has a rather long queue of patrons. After sitting in line for over 5 minutes, it becomes known that the pumps are not working due to a power outage likely caused by a lightning strike. So off the beaten path he goes thru traffic, four blocks over to another station where it takes another 10 minutes to complete the re-fuel and get back on the road.

Overloaded!

Ooops!

By this time, traffic after the storm has become congested due to some minor flooding and it’s slow going heading towards the Barrio. All’s going well until the Jeepney loaded with passengers comes upon a large flatbed truck carrying coco lumber (that was overloaded to begin with) that has overturned, dumping its cargo all over the road. After nearly a 20 minute clean-up, traffic once again begins to move. Your wife finally reaches her drop and now spends several more minutes hailing a final tricycle ride for the trip to the house. She arrives home precisely at 3:55pm. When you give her that look and ask “Where have you been? You know I have a meeting!” she responds with “But your meeting is not until 4:00 and it’s not even 4:00 yet!” (Filipino logic.) This is where your most emphatic Bart Simpson impression will most likely be used, as you head out the door.

Helmuts Bar, Alona Beach, Bohol

                 Helmuts Bar, Alona Beach, Bohol

The relatively short trip to your chosen meeting place takes you 25 minutes and upon arriving you think to yourself, not bad, it’s only 4:20pm and I’m the first one here. You are feeling good because you consider yourself “on time” (regardless of how late you may be, in the Philippines, if you arrive first, you are “on time”). You order a beer and relax while waiting on your friends. You order another beer….and another….then your phone rings. It’s one of your buddies who you were supposed to meet up with and now it’s 5:10pm. He inquires of youre whereabouts and you state “I’m here at the Emerald Bar waiting on you. Heck, I’ve been here over 40 minutes and have had three beers already.” Your now confused friend curiously responds “The Emerald?” And you say, “That’s right, The Emerald!”  to which your friend then replies “but my wife said John’s wife learned from your wife that you wanted to meet at the Imelda! By the way, is John and Larry with you?”

Timing and Communications…. It’s More Fun in the Philippines!

*footnote: As a blood pressure reduction and control method (as related to Filipino Timing), it is highly recommended never to wear a watch in the Philippines. I don’t.

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