Sitio Damayan


Sitio Damayan is home to a small community of informal settlers in Vitas, Tondo Manila who rely mainly on charcoal making for their livelihood. Unfortunately, most families earn around less than a hundred pesos a day or about two US dollars – a fraction of the four hundred peso minimum wage. Deprived of any assistance from the government, residents in this area break their backs every day in an effort to bring food to the table. Workers collect large amounts of wood from all over Manila to be burnt into charcoal. This painstaking process takes about 3 days to complete, leaving each worker an average of 3 hours of sleep each day.

Surrounded by the stench of garbage, haze and heat – not to mention the hazards that accompany their work – the people of Sitio Damayan persevere everyday. Perhaps the true value of what they do is not seen in the meager change they receive in exchange for a hard day’s toil. But rather, it lies in their knowing that what they do, insignificant as it may seem to others, is an honest living, one that demonstrates true courage and strength in the face of poverty.

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