‘Naghahanap-buhay lang kami’ (We’re just trying to make a living)

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Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

That’s how those loggers and charcoal makers at the Ipo Watershed in Bulacan describe their illegal activities, according to my FB friend and natural plant conservationist Fredd Ochavo As if “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami” gives them the permission or license to do what they want to do regardless of possible grave damage to lives and properties when strong rains or even weak typhoons come to visit. Remember what happened with Typhoon Ondoy and the flooding that visited Metro Manila and parts of Luzon?

How often do we hear this comment? “We are just trying to make a living.” And that seems to bolster their audacity to break the law and cause problems to many people and damage to property.

Nowadays, there are big traffic jams in Metro Manila because of some 15 road projects being undertaken simultaneously. I remember a previous report by a Japanese agency about the causes of traffic in Metro Manila, without road projects. The biggest culprit was the wrong use of streets and sidewalks. The cost of these traffic jams run up to the billions of pesos. This does not include the serious dangers pedestrians are exposed to when they walk right on the streets instead of on the sidewalks.

These examples happen just along the short strip of V. Mapa Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila, from Old Sta. Mesa Street and Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard.


Parts of the street and sidewalk being used by two tire-repair business (I even wonder if they are a duly registered businesses paying appropriate taxes) causing traffic at any time of the day. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Storeowners extending their stalls into the sidewalk or even the street. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Karinderias (street food hawkers) extending their makeshift vending tables onto the sidewalk and positioning their tables and chairs on the sidewalk and their barbecue grill and paraphernalia right on the street. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Itinerant vendors of roasted peanuts, fishball, fried chicken, fresh pineapple, bananas, vegetables, plastic wares, “ukay-ukay” and other items parked and doing brisk sales along the street. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.

Sidewalk vendors operating on the sidewalks and even the streets. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Jeepneys stopping here, there and everywhere unloading, loading passengers or waiting for potential passengers who are still working or inside the houses or maybe still sleeping. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Delivery trucks and other vehicles parked on sidewalks. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Jeepneys occupying several lanes and making the area some sort of a terminal or garage. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Protective cover for a house construction that extends onto the sidewalk, forcing people to walk on the street. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

A noisy and menacing (or playful if you are fond of dogs) watchdog, leashed and tied to a lamppost. I am not sure if this dog has received some anti-rabies shots. “Kailangan sa hanapbuhay.”

V. Mapa Street is a very busy street widened to accommodate vehicles coming from San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Marikina, Makati and other places. It is busy 24/7. And it could get clogged anytime of the day, not because of the number of vehicles that use it, but because of all of the above obstacles.

And nobody is minding it. No police presence around. The barangay officials of Bgy 594, 595,596 and others seem resigned to this kind of lawlessness and the danger they pose to people and property.

This is totally unacceptable to law-abiding citizens who have been deprived of the use of the sidewalk and street to lawless and unscrupulous entrepreneurs who might not even be paying proper taxes, if they ever pay their taxes. Yet they are using public areas without shame and without thought for the welfare and safety of people. “Naghahanapbuhay lang kami.”

Unfortunately, this disrespect for the law and fellow human beings is replicated in many streets and sidewalks in Metro Manila.

Should we simply accept such lawlessness, which has now become the norm and has seeped into our culture? As one neighbor said, “Pinoy, eh.” Grrrrrrr I am glad, though my heart is bleeding, that my grandson will now live in Canada where people are courteous, polite and respectful to each other.

Feedback to moje629@gmail.com

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3 Comments

  1. Bonifacio Claudio on

    Sa maikling salita eh “huwag kang magnakaw ng pagkain kasi kasalan yan sa batas ng tao at sa batas ng Diyos”… So ang solusyon ay huwag kang magnakaw at mamatay ka ng dilat sa gutom. Hindi ba mas dapat eh (1) bigyan mo ng makakain o (2) kaya ay bigyan mo ng ibang paraan para siya makakain para mabuhay? Ang mga pang-uuyam bang ganito ang solusyon sa pagdurusa ng mga kapuspalad? Dapat ay alamin ninyo ang tunay na dahilan sa pangyayari ng paglabag at kung paano mabibigyang solusyon ng GOBYERNO para sa kabutihan ng lahat, lalo na ng mga kapuspalad. Those who have less in life should have more in law… Live & let live… Ngayon ay iminumungkahi ninyong gamitin ang BATAS para upang lalo kaming dustain at isadlak sa kawalang pag-asa DAHIL kaming kumain-dili ay laging mali at makasalanan sa pagpupunyaging makakain para mabuhay dahil sa kawalan ng pagkakakitaan… You are adding insult to injury?! OK, bawal kung bawal, pero ang tinutungo po naming kumain-dili ay TULONG para HANAPBUHAY ng hindi kami makalabag ng batas sa kagustuhan naming maibsan ang matinding gutom para kami naman ay mabuhay kahit paano. Huwag naman po yung basta na lang ninyo kami pahihintuin dahil sa BATAS at walang TULONG-HANAPBUHAY kasi ay para na rin ninyo kaming binawian ng buhay. It’s so easy to talk about being law-abiding when the tummy is full. So OFFER also other ways how we can eat 3 times a day… “Live & let live”… Dapat dahan dahan lang ang pang-uuyam sa aming mahihirap kasi wala naman kaming PDAF at DAP. Aren’t you barking at the wrong tree in proposing how to alleviate the miseries of the Filipino?

  2. the author need not blame these people for their mediocre reply and assertion. its like blaming the end result and outcome as presented by the tangibles presented to them. instead of blaming them, one should endeavor to find what is real source of the problem that brought them to the present situation and try to solve the root cause. enforcement of laws and ordinances will just worsen the situation and the divide among the haves and the have nots since opportunities are made available mostly to the haves. if only the government provides the infrastructure and makes social services more intuitive and responsive to the actual needs of the have nots and open more opportunities to them to earn a living decently, then the chaotic situation we are in now will improve – maybe slowly and painful but it would be a good start.

    i’m quite sure if given the chance and opportunity, any person will choose to do things the right way and will contribute to the common good. i rather see them as victims of inept and corrupt system of government, which mostly favors those who are in power and have the resources, than nuisance!

  3. Hindi katwiran ng may malasakit sa kapwa tao ang nagsasabing “naghahanapbuhay lang kami”, hindi nila pansin ang mga napeperwisyo nila sa kanilang mga Gawain, lahat tayo kailangan nating mabuhay pero hindi sa paraang kailangang manapak ka ng karapatan ng ibang tao. May karapatan din ang mga taong makalakad ng maayos sa mga sidewalk na hindi kailangang sa kalsada sila mismo maglakad. Ang pagkakaingin sa mga bundok ay subok na natin ang pinsala sa tao kapag nagtag ulan na. Ang mga naglalagay ng mga business nila sa lakaran ng mga tao gaya ng welding shop, vulcanizing na ang paradahan ng kanilang mga customers ay sa kalsada na. Dapat hindi ito kinukunsunti ng mga taga munisipyo.