Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

September 30, 2008


Filed under: Cebu — Donald @ 11:46 am


My trip to the Lingap Center, a children’s home, began with a long taxi ride to the southern terminal in Cebu during the morning rush. The weather was good, so the next leg of the trip, two hours on a second class bus with no window glass, was very pleasant.


The driver said he knew the Center and would drop me nearby. His friend sitting alongside was getting off at the same spot and would guide me the rest of the way. After walking up a long hill well off of the highway we arrived, not at Lingap, but at his home. He gave tours of the area and would be happy to show me around after he ate. “You wait”, he said, disappearing into the house.

When I got back to the highway I found a tricycle driver who would take me the rest of the way.

“How much?”

Pause… squint… “Nine pesos” (18 cents). The look was bad but the price was about right, so I got in the sidecar. We just sat there.

“When do we go?”

“We wait more passenger. Need three.” Ok, that’s a common practice and fair enough.

A middle aged woman and a young mother with her small child joined us. One sat in the back compartment of the sidecar and the other sat on the seat behind the driver. He still did not take off, which told me what the deal now would be. I’d seen it many times. We would wait until we got as many people onto the tricycle as humanly possible at 9 pesos a head or I would be charged an exorbitant fee for a “special ride.”

“You said three. Let’s go.”

“You pay, we go now. Fifty pesos.”

“No. Nine.”

We waited and eventually another woman with her child arrived. He told her to sit with me. The sidecars in Toledo have by far the smallest seats I have seen in the Philippines. My little compartment was less than two feet wide, two feet deep, and four feet tall.


“You pay for two. Eighteen.”

“Not possible for two here.”

“You pay eighteen.”

“Nine for me and nine for the crocodiles?”

Eventually the woman and child and I all squeezed in together like a circus act. Normally the driver would be laughing his ass off at this point, but the look on my face kept the smile off of his. By the time we arrived at the Center I was not in the right frame of mind to be surrounded by 82 kids. They were still at school, though, and a nice chat with the staff calmed me right down.

Lingap, founded by an American who lives near the place I used to work, takes in street children in the Toledo area of Cebu. Most of them are from families so poor that the children must basically support themselves. Instead of going to school they scavenge for food and things they can sell as scrap. By doing this they earn about 15 pesos (30 cents) per day. Some sleep on the street. Some are orphans. Some eventually drift into worse and more profitable ways of making a living.

Toledo street kids


Most are referred to Lingap by social services. Others are drawn in by an outreach program. Every afternoon staff members go to the plaza and teach the children there as best they can. To entice them they offer snacks when the lessons are complete. The children are encouraged to come and live in the Center and attend school, but many will not, usually because they do not want to give up their income.


Lingap provides the kids who do come a very nice place to live, the attention of great houseparents and social workers, tutoring in the evening, and even private school tuition for those who excel academically.


Our lunch was typical Filipino fare; lots of rice, some adobo (a small piece of very fatty pork cooked in soy sauce and garlic), and a banana.


The kids help to prepare the food, they wash their own dishes and clothes, and they help to keep the center clean. All in all they seem to do well.


After lunch they sang some songs for me.



  1. your homeland is falling apart–it started when you left–please return home soon!

    Comment by scott — October 1, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  2. I second Scott’s comment!

    Thanks for the picture and the Lingap story.

    Comment by Karen Smietana — October 2, 2008 @ 3:55 am

  3. My plan to find a remote observation point from which to document and analyze the apocalypse is unfolding nicely.

    Comment by Donald — October 3, 2008 @ 8:51 am

  4. / Any motorist will know that, no mettar how much money you pay for a car, how new or old it is, there will always be something that can go wrong. It doesn’t mettar how rare the fault is, or how well the car runs most of the time, eventually something can go wrong – and when it does, you often find yourself having to hand over plenty of cash to get it repaired.

    Comment by Mardi — November 17, 2014 @ 2:01 am

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