Saturday, December 27, 2008

CDO Night Café: Post-Mortem?

When the two-day night bazaar has ended and the weary purveyors have all packed up and gone their separate ways, those with hefty profits having driven away a-celebrating while whose who lost in their enterprises are content with nursing their hurts, what is left at the scene?

These random shots in and around the plaza, scene of the excitement the previous two nights, starkly reveal an ugly underbelly of a city grown beyond its capacities to take care of many of its dispossessed citizens, many now reduced to being nocturnal denizens of the dark and seedy corners of the city and eventually uninvited tenants to the plaza.

Taken at about 7:20 am Sunday, the occupants of the plaza are shown in various sleeping positions allocating for themselves whatever little comfortable niches they can find, dead and unmindful to the flexing flurry of activities typical to an awakening city.

One elderly gentleman though asleep looks decently dressed and ready to travel, with his neat bundle of luggage serving as props to his arched body cozily adapted to the size and contours of a smallish plaza bench. A spot to sleep for!

Others in literally hard places – cold, dirty, and rough sidewalks, or concrete plaza benches not even comfortable enough for sitting in. Others go for the more spacious concrete benches near or surrounding the several statues of famous men revered locally and nationally.

Surprisingly one still senses the self-same stubborn peace and serenity we always associate with sleep, especially deep sleep, viewing their arched bodies and unwashed faces. Overall, showing the unmistakable signs of how hardy life is on the streets –deeply dirty clothes, badly sunburnt skin, and unnaturally aged faces showing even among the younger ones.

In other areas, clusters of neatly dressed young adults looking well rested and refreshed occupy the unused benches, happily giggling amongst themselves. Definitely not residents of the plaza and more like students waiting for their rides or friends to some happy excursions. The area is noted as a meeting place for those who signed up for white water rafting in the city’s now famous river.

Thus, everything appears well and good. And the city moves along to another day.

And lastly, another stolen shot - shooting back at yours truly:

Related articles:

Nite Cafe Revisited

CDO Nite Cafe - Still

Scenes Around Divisoria Park - 2

Scenes Around Divisoria Park - 1


  1. Geez Amadeo, you make it sound like the existence of homeless "plaza" street people is all well and good. Your photos and your descriptions make me feel sick, especially when you describe how the well fed non-plaza-ites are able to blithely go about their business right next to them, apparently oblivious. Everytime I see a dirty faced, rag wearing child in Manila, or right here in AC, I feel anger. I'm mad at society for ignoring and discounting them, including "the church," but mostly I'm mad at myself for being unwilling to do much to help them, other than to hand over a few pesos every so often. I have to say, this post of yours is one of the most disturbing I've ever read.

  2. Sorry to rub your sensibilities the wrong way, Phil. I suppose I had wanted to generate such repulsion so that some things could be done.

    This is not the first attempt at pictorializing this sorry condition. I had tried it on several occasions but sent them instead to some closely-knit email groups I used to be a member. And expectedly, they engendered some anger and but mostly helplessness at a situation that has been festering for quite a while. Then just as quickly any interest created died.

    What could I do for these poor people specifically?

    I have no answer, other than as you stated handing over a few pesos when the occasion arises.

    Maybe some have made this type of a life one of their choices? I do not know.

    I justify myself by resolving to assist in ways I know how people in such similar dire straits in ways other than direct dole-outs. Like giving them opportunities to learn or to continue earning a livelihood suspended or not started at all due to absence of resources such as capital. This I have promulgated in a couple of ways – active membership in our credit union and actual infusion of capital for livehoods undertaken by people already in our employ.

    And it is a sad commentary of our times, when the rest of our lives continue on unaffected by these conditions around us. But these are the realities.

  3. Their choices? Hmmm. Maybe so, for the adults. but what renders my soul are the kids. I can't help but to feel anger at a system that allows them to live like that.

  4. Phil:

    You should witness the steady stream of beggars and mendicants along city streets of the old hometown, with most women clutching little infants or toddlers in their arms. Exposing these fragile individuals to all the harsh elements of city life - sun, dust, exhaust fumes, traffic hazards, etc. Many obviously using these infants as their ticket to compassion and ultimately to some pesos from all the kindly souls accosted.

    I shudder when I think of these things, but there is only so much one individual can do or hope. A government grossly neglectful and unmindful is such a huge impediment to set aside to get the ball rolling for the rest of society to follow.

  5. Aha! Finally! That last paragraph completely covers my sentiments. Yes! But its not just the government; the churches need to step up. So many churches and so little involvement outside of their own walls.


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