On the eve of the 2022 Philippine General Election, 1in3out travels to Barangay Real Purok II in Calamba, Laguna for our monthly outreach. In less than 24 hours, the country’s 67 million registered voters will cast their choices in as many as 18,000 political positions ranging from their local community representatives and all the way up to the country’s executive leaders.
Purok II is nicknamed “Kabute”, the Tagalog word for “mushroom”, given by surrounding locals for the houses and people that seem to just pop up overnight. Sadly, this squatter community has been in existence since the 1980s. Since then, the community has seen its fair share of elections with candidates promising a better living condition, affordable to free housing, and monetary compensation in exchange for the citizen’s vote.
This particular Sunday, the children roams the dirt roads of Kabute as most of the adults spend the day at City Hall to join the last minute campaign efforts of their chosen officials. The kids are happy, could be healthier, accustomed to the lifestyle they were born into. The pandemic has gravely affected their education as the majority of the families doesn’t have access to a phone or tablet for online classes. Even worse, the community doesn’t have electricity. Every house is relying on shared electric extension cords and outlets with its origin unknown to even the people of Kabute.
But even before the pandemic, Kabute has relied heavily on the nearby river that has been their primary source of water and plumbing. Even before Covid shut down the world, the people of Kabute has survived on small hustles and panhandling. Illegaly residing on an abandoned government land, city officials at any time can take over their property and cast its residents out.
As always, 1in3out aims to bring happiness to the people even for just a day. We arrived with hundreds of bagged clothes ready to be distributed. Each family also received canned sardines, bags of ramen noodles, and packs of instant coffee. Enough for a modest meal or two for a day, and that’s one less day they have worry about food. All these were made possible by generous sponsors and donors from Southern California. Kababayans half-way around the world helping Filipinos in need. Maraming Salamat!
***We've also included an interview with Tita Carina, one of the town's locals, as she tells us how life has been during the pandemic. Including a quick lesson on how Purok II got it's KABUTE nickname.