Manila street kids and families enjoy P6000-per-night beach resort during Pope Francis’s visit

Perhaps then, the Philippine government may be right after all. Perhaps government personnel did not, as what was alleged, round up street kids all over Manila and throw them in little cages. No. According to an ABS-CBN News report, the kids and their families were “guests” in a posh P6,000 peso (USD135) per night resort in Batangas.

Nichie Torres, the resident manager of Chateau Royale, said the street children and their families were treated as guests.

Some 100 DSWD staff also stayed at the resort to watch over the guests who occupied a total of 70 rooms.

The resident manager admitted their guests appeared unkempt and wore dirty clothes.

On January 15, two big trucks delivered toys, clothes, and toiletries.

The guests were also kept busy with various activities.

The guests occupied the open field and practically used all the facilities, including the ballroom.

Resort staff said it resembled a huge “family camp.”

The six days were uneventful, except for one instant when two groups figured in what looked like a rumble that was quickly resolved.

The group checked out on January 19, the day Pope Francis left.

On normal days, Manila's famous harbour suffers from an unsightly squatter infestation.

On normal days, Manila’s famous harbour suffers from an unsightly squatter infestation.

According to ABS-CBN News, the information leading to this revelation was “a document from the Manila City Hall wherein the DSWD asked for permission to hold the camp”. A TIME magazine feature cited the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman’s claim that 490 people constituting about 100 homeless families living along otherwise scenic Roxas Boulevard “taken off the street” were “taken about an hour and a half’s drive away to the plush Chateau Royal Batangas resort” where room rates “range from $90 to $500 per night.” According to Soliman, the TIME report continues, these homeless people “could be seen as not having a positive influence in the crowd”.

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On the question on whether or not ordinary Filipinos really gave a hoot over where these supposedly non-positive fixtures of Manila’s streets during the Pope’s visit went, the TIME report’s author Charlie Campbell opined…

So where did Manila’s street children go? The truth is that most people didn’t really care, just as long as they did.

But what would one call the P6000-per-night cost of the treat Filipino taxpayers extended to these homeless people? Was it an act of charity? Or was it merely a bald bribe?

The trouble with practices like these is the precedent it could set. Already, Metro Manila is being crushed under the weight of a vast squatter infestation. Many of these illegal residents have, in fact, made their homes on public land. Because most of these residents lack access to basic waste management infrastructure, much of the waste they produce ends up in natural and man-made storm drains, many of which are now hopelessly fouled up.

Indeed, squatters have long been an immense socio-economic problem in Metro Manila, contributing to the chronic flooding and perpetual traffic gridlock that Manila’s legal residents suffer year round.

By giving the VIP treatment to a handful of “homeless” people who would have spoiled the pope’s view of Manila’s “famous” harbour, during the now-concluded visit, the wrong message again is sent to the Philippines’ impoverished masses: Victim mentality pays.

[Photo courtesy Philippine Human Rights Information Center.]

17 Replies to “Manila street kids and families enjoy P6000-per-night beach resort during Pope Francis’s visit”

  1. If this “victim mentality” does pay in the form of clean-up retreats like this or “bald bribes” as you call it, mind that all that is but payback (but a little bit of that) for living a squatter’s life — lack of access to decent housing, decent food and clothing, decent education, decent anything.

    Indeed, this article (and others touching on the squatter) prefers to think of the symptom as the problem, as if they all hail from a land of plenty who chose to spurn all the perks of decent living, because why the fuck not?

    1. Payback? We don’t owe them anything.

      The money used at the resort would have been better spent teaching the homeless livelihood programs in order to give them a better chance of rising out of poverty. But of course the government won’t do that because they can no longer buy their votes come election time. And majority of the squatters don’t like livelihood programs because it means they have to work. Why would they? They are satisfied with dole outs.

      1. “Payback? We don’t owe them anything.”

        How about a decent life? Surely we owe them that much. Forget about respect — most of us here would rather shoo them off the streets and slums and into the countryside where no jobs and the flimsiest housing await them — but surely a decent life isn’t too much to ask.

        “And majority of the squatters don’t like livelihood programs because it means they have to work. Why would they? They are satisfied with dole outs.”


        So all the squatters and the beggars on the streets are satisfied with living out their lives on the slums and the streets of our urban areas… just for a lifetime’s supply of dole-outs? I’ve heard of Reagan’s welfare queens, but I gotta admit, our urban poor live a very enviable life out there. No roof above their heads, subsisting on garbage most days, no running water, surely none of the conveniences that we have — but hey, at least they’re on welfare!

        (Totally not sarcasm, for what you said is totally common sense. Totally.)

  2. So, they swept the “dirt” under the rug, at our tax expense…
    Aquino and DSWD way of solving the street children problem…

  3. I have a very hard time believing that the DSWD went to these ridiculously far fetched lengths simply to “re-locate” street children. Am I the only one who finds this story hard to swallow?

    1. It’s not hard to believe if you consider that Filipinos and their government prefer to hide problems and hide from them, instead of tackling them head on.

      It is nonsensical to people like us to solve problems by throwing money at them, but to Filipinos, it is an easier quick fix – characteristic of the Noynoy government and the people who elected him.

  4. Whatever the case, it is typical sweep it under the rug , let the taxpayer worry about it. The pope came here to see the poor. Too bad what he got was a bumbling stumbling ignorant oaf.

    1. Well, the Pope got to see poor alright – poor leadership, poor taste, poor statesmanship, poor comprehension of the purpose of his visit, etc…

  5. I knew Dinky had some screw loosened from her head, but never realized she had it totally unscrewed by now. Nuts, totally nuts.

    And P-Noy would not accept any criticism of his administration? ….Nuts, totally nuts

  6. This is just vomit inducing. I have lost all if I ever I had any respect for dinky. What a monumental failure … Yolanda now this. You know some politicians in other countries would at least resign after such crappy performance but this highlighted buffoon merrily goes on. How can people just tolerate this? Throw eggs at her at least.

    Sadder still is the realization that this is still the Philippine elite’s solution to poverty…just hide it and pretend it isn’t there. From Imelda building makeshift walls to cover squatter communities to this. No other effing plan in over 40 years.

    This also pretty much confirms that the small Philippine middle class is the most screwed middle class in the world…forced to finance such mind numbing stupidity.

  7. Not the first time this sort of thing has happened and will not be the last.
    Asian Development Bank meeting May 2012 make shift walls were put up to hide the slums.

  8. There is a fine line between compassion and a victim mentality. Compassion though is a healing force and comes from a place of kindness towards yourself. Playing the victim is a toxic waste of time that not only repels other people, but also robs the victim of ever knowing true happiness.

  9. There is no hope for the FAIL-IPPINES. LEAVE THE COUNTRY NOW !!!!

    The admin of this blog do not live in the country, WHY SHOULD YOU? Say bye-bye,’BYE-BYE’ and do not come back until you have a different citizenship!

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