Suffer the Children

Part 1: Child laborers in a Benguet rock quarry

Part 2: Child laborers in a Benguet rock quarry

Every time we hear some people (i.e. NGO or DSWD workers) talk about child labor in the Cordilleras, our reaction would be something like, “Duh, you don’t know what you are talking about. What’s wrong if a kid spends some of his time feeding pigs, or gathering water, or planting rice during weekends? It is character-building if you ask us.”

Admittedly, our not-too-favorable reaction on the issue is shaped by our personal experience. As a child, we had to do our share of work and it helped us learn the meaning of responsibility. Also, the work we were made to do didn’t prevent us from being a kid or from having fun.

However, after watching the videos above of children working in rock quarries, we realize that anti-child labor advocates do have a point, i.e., that child labor does exist in our region and that it is not as harmless as we first imagined it to be.

Note: The quality of the videos is rather poor but they are certainly worth watching.


11 thoughts on “Suffer the Children”

  1. it makes me remember of my childhood. not that i have been forced to work when i was younger (may be have worked a bit to some extent)but makes me feel bad to see children who do not enjoy their childhood days. along the road, when they become an adult, either they will tell their children they did not enjoy their childhood or do the same to their children (as some do) because of what they have been to.

  2. the ‘child labour’ that I’m used to only involves helping around in the farm….giving the pigs their bath was more play than work and making gabyon the soil was good for building upper torso strength and definition…..i guess i was lucky….

  3. There really is child abuse in the region. But on whom does the buck FINALLY fall? On the parents left with no choice but to make their children work or on the State that does not foster an environment of choice?

    Friends, in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, Sisa was a woman who loved her children deeply. She did not stop her seven year-old son Crispin from working as a sacristan. Cripin would be tortured to death later on. No one who read that very poignant novel ended up hating Sisa.

    Of course, it is also a reality that some parents abuse their children. They let their children work while they have a good time. Worse, they sell their children to white slave traders. To my knowledge, cases of this nature are not yet documented in the Cordillera.

  4. when i was a child, nagtitinda me ng pandesal early in the morning, then balot in the afternoon , then during saturdays nagtitinda ng gulay kasama mga kapatid ko, we go to the kaingin with my grandma and grandpa,…nu pinaggagapas apannak diay talon makigapas with 30/day noon, agtimbon ken agmula…eventhough people criticize me and my sisters because why would my father a judge and my mother a district supervisor allow us to do those things…simply because they want us to learn and teach us how to live…now we can do everything at home, we can live by our own…my little brothers and sisters who didn’t experience what we had before has nothing to do, even cooking is a nightmare to them, even washing their own clothes…

    so i enjoy those days of my childhood, a training on my part…now i can tell stories to my son just like what my father did “Idi dakami ag iskwela idi, maymaysa badu me, adayu pagpagnaen me, ket nakaiskwela kami met” ganun ba hehe

  5. what’s striking is that those concerned seem not to be fully aware of the extent of the problem. or could it be a another case of ‘we know the problem exists, but unless we have the funds, we can only turn the other way?’

    and the children get sick…

  6. Hi Abella,
    Yeah it really is sad when kids are given more than what they should bear. And as you said, there’s the possibility that they will do the same to their kids so the cycle would go on to the next generation. Thanks.

    Hi Nashman,
    I guess I was lucky too. Thanks.

    Hi Daniel,
    Oo nga. At first I wasn’t sure whether to believe it. But no one can argue with the video images, so totoo talaga. Thanks.

    Hi Chyt,
    >> They let their children work while they have a good time. Worse, they sell their children to white slave traders. To my knowledge, cases of this nature are not yet documented in the Cordillera.

    Hopefully, there will be no such cases to document. But then again, we can never be sure. I used to think that there is no child sexual abuse in Cordi tay ammo tako nan inayan only to be told stories of such abuse.

    I agree that the state has the responsibility to build an environment where these things do not happen. Thanks.

    Hi Nats,
    Thanks. Your comment about telling stories to your son made me smile. I guess we are lucky in that we didn’t have an easy life so we were made to work.

    Eh mga bata ngayon, as you said they don’t know how to do simple things like cooking their own food. Medyo spoiled na sila with all these technology that makes life easy hehe. Thanks.

    Hi Pagano,
    I think its partly because we are used to seeing children who are working…so hindi kapansin pansin ang problema.

    As I said in the post, nothing really wrong with making our kids work. What is worrisome is when they are made to sacrifice other opportunities such as education because this does not help them realize their full potential. Thanks.

  7. What part of Benguet is this located? The only concentration of limerocks that I’m aware of is in Irisan, way above the dumpsite or “little smokey mountain”!
    Can the Benguet solon buy these people quarrying even those inexpensive masks?? Or Health Centers provide them at least….
    very sad scene especially the mother carrying her child while doing hard labor…..

  8. Hello,

    I thought it was illegal to hire children labourers in mines.

    Or is it not in Pinas?

  9. Hi Trublue,
    Not sure where it is located. Thanks 🙂

    Hi Manila Bay Watch,
    It is illegal. Pero these kids are working with their parents (so they are not actually hired) in rock quarries (not the mines). Thanks 🙂

  10. im really touch and while watching this one.a five year old carrying a stone just to survive.i cant blame mother doing this to their own son but sometimes,we must realize how hardwork we give to our children.i have also a 3 kids and i still remember when my kids want to help me cause of this hardness of life.i let them sale plastic at the age of 7 think.that must be accurate in their age.and when they turned 11,i let them help me to sale vegetables after co mothers,its not bad to let our child help us to work,but we must see if it is accurate in their age.5 years old is too dangerous for them to work at that kind of hanap buhay.siguro,yang kita niyo sa ilang araw is not enough to buy medecine if they get co mothers,open our eyes.
    comcerned mother.

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