The Kanlungan boys

video Kanlungan

“If I ever saw my parents again, I would ask them to forgive me for what I did. My father used to hit me when he was drunk, but he didn’t mean it”

Anthony is 20 years old and he ran away from his adoptive home when he was 11. His parents forced him to abandon his studies to take care of  his younger siblings and he also had to sell peanuts to help the family economy. His father used to get drunk and abused him physically. Anthony was afraid of him. One day he lost the money earned and his mother told him that his dad would be very upset, he was so scared that  he decided to leave and he has never come back since then.

“I’m not ready to go back yet”.
During two years Anthony lived in the streets of Roxas Boulevard, in the Port of Manila, begging for money to eat and his parents didn’t try to look for him or get in touch with him.

“I can understand it, I wasn’t their real son. When I was little I asked who were my parents but they never answered, they simply told me that I was adopted”

Anthony’s luck changed the day he was walking next to the Philippines International Convention Center, in that moment a priest was playing tennis and one of his balls slipped away from the court. Anthony returned the ball and the pastor kindly offered to pay him in exchange for  picking up all the balls. Just after that the pastor took Anthony to a shelter home.

Now, when Anthony sees other children begging like he had to do, he gives them food but not money because it could be used to buy drugs. “I have seen so many kids buying glue to sniff”, although after explaining his thought he says that he never took drugs while he was living in the streets.

Anthony met Raymond and David in Kalungan, an organization that provides shelter for street children. The three of them have created a good friendship, although Anthony seems to be the most independent, while Raymond and David are very close to one another. What unites them all is the fact of having had a childhood that lacked affection and that was difficult and hard far from their families. David is 23 years old and his mother abandoned him at Kalungan when he was 5 years old.

“I believed that we were going to stay for just one night to rest, but she left the next day. I cried a lot, I remember that she said she would come back to pick me up”

David’s mother had got divorced and was working as the right hand assistant to a nightclub manager, but her salary wasn’t enough to support her three children. “She was working in a bar where women started to work when they were 15 years old, they danced naked and sometimes entertained the clients dancing for them or wearing short dresses, but they weren’t prostitutes”.

David’s two older sisters went to live with their uncle and aunt, and because he was the youngest his mother took him to Kalungan. She only returned once to visit him. David feels fortunate to have met his family and he is aware of the fact that other kids in Kalungan don’t know what it means to have a mum. However, when he thinks about his childhood, his memory immediately goes back to that day in which his mother left him in Kalungan when he was still a baby boy.

Raymond is 24 years and he didn’t have the chance to know who his parents were, he never met them, and he doesn’t even know why he was abandoned or how old he was. The only thing he knows about his childhood is that he stayed at another organization that closed and then he was taken to Kalungan.

“They have been my real family, thanks to them I’ve felt loved and I have  learnt to deal with people”

Anthony, David and Raymond met at the Kalungan farm, a big coffee plantation located in Batangas, in the South of  the Philippinee island of Luzon. They slept in a small and narrow hut next to other fifteen children on mattresses spread over the floor. In the farm they were given food and an education. And now that they have grown up, they have been given a job so that they can earn a salary and pay their rent to become independent.

The kids have been working for two years in Ksem Kafe, a cafeteria in the centre of Manila that belongs to Kalungan and where they sell the coffee cultivated in the farm. Other kids from the organisation work in the store next door selling imported japanese furniture.

A great amount of the benefits obtained from these two businesses are used to help other kids to attend school, besides helping the kids in the farm, the organisation also gives support to the kids on the streets of Manila.
Raymond is in charge of preparing the coffee and he makes beautiful designs by hand, he learnt to do it on Youtube and  improved his technique studying at a school in Manila.

When he sees how his clients enjoy his designs in the coffee cups,  he feels surprised and happy. However, he says that this is not what he wants to do, but “this is what God has given me and I am very thankful”. Nor has he got a clear idea about what he would like to do in the future. “ As a small kid I wanted to be a basketball player, but I’m very short”. David does the accounting of the cafeteria and supports Raymond in the coffee making. With his salary he has rented a room for his mother, who he met again in Manila a year ago thanks to the help of a social assistant. Before he used to live in the cafeteria, but he thought that by paying the rent for his mother he could help her to make ends meet.

On the other side, Anthony makes the sandwiches and cakes for Ksem Kafe. With the six thousand pesos he earns each month he has rented a small room in a quite chaotic and decadent Manila neighbourhood, a few minutes from the cafeteria. The three kids do a thorough and impeccable job at Ksem Kafe and they lead a life they would have never thought about when they were abandoned by their families.

They have a salary, a job and a life full of affection. However, they would like to have their parents close. Meanwhile, Raymond dreams with having met them, Anthony wishes to go back in time to not have escaped from his home, David exerts himself to be a son forgiving his mother for what she did.

Acknowledgements: KANLUNGAN SA ER-MAMINISTERY. INC. and Friendly’s Guesthouse.

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This story is in English thanks to The Tangible Dream

March, 2013 · Manila · Philippines
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