Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Doing Pentecostal Civic Engagement in the Squatter Area of Lower Rock Quarry, Baguio City, Philippines

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Doing Pentecostal Civic Engagement in the Squatter Area of Lower Rock Quarry, Baguio City, Philippines

Article excerpt

Joseph and Elma and their three children are one of the 142 families residing in the squatter area of Lower Rock Quarry who left their small farm in Pangasinan because of poverty. The insufficiency of their livelihood to meet their daily needs forced them to migrate to Baguio City to find a better life. (2) They reside in a small barong barong (shanty house) with seven other families. Joseph works as a scrapper in a shop and Elma usually serves as a housekeeper. Elma was put in touch with the local Pentecostal church when her children came to the feeding

project, a ministry Pentecostal believers had started in the area. Her three children were the first attendees among the 12 children these Pentecostals fed in 2010.

When these Spirit-filled believers started skills and livelihood training to help the most indigent families generate income, Elma joined and became interested in studying the Bible. Through this training, she began to earn money for her family. Joseph and Elma were also one of the 12 couples who took part in the a wedding conducted by the church to assist unwed couples in the area. Through this civic participation, they became church members of the pioneering work in Lower Rock Quarry, serving as staff in feeding the children and managing the small store established by the church.

Literature Review: Context of the Study

Studies reveals that people living in squatter areas, or barong barong, are usually informal and casual workers, and that the women maintain their households without jobs or livelihood. They are the residents of peripheral and low-income settlements who depend greatly on Band-Aid assistance from government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) during typhoon seasons. They are, of course, those "homeless" and "illegal setders" who live on the property of landowners, waiting for eviction by police authorities. Presidential Decree Number 772, established 20 August 1975 during the Marcos Administration, states,

Any person who, with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or
taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner, succeeds
in occupying or possessing the property of the latter against his will
for residential, commercial or any other purposes, shall be punished by
an imprisonment ranging from six months to one year or a fine of not
less than one thousand nor more than five thousand pesos at the
discretion of the court, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency.

During Gloria Arroyo's administration, 3.2 billion Pesos were allocated every year for ten years to socialized housing units for illegal settlers. This spending was justified given that according to a report by the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee on Informal Settlers, one out of five families was a squatter and there were 544,609 households of informal settlers in Metro Manila, representing 21 percent of the total of 2.6 million households (MMIAC, 1). (3) Costello's question of whether migrants tend to mass in the slum area initially in order to adjust to urban life is worth pursuing. The assumption that migrants flock to urban squatter areas as a necessary entry points to adjust to urban life has certain implications. Squatter areas are disorganized and lack basic government services like electricity and water supply. (4) Social researchers have discovered that migrants are not attracted to the squatter areas, because Filipinos are able to absorb peripheral members of the family, such as servants, lodgers, and extended kin. (5)

Filipino attitudes toward illegal settlers in the Philippines are a mix of apathy and sympathy. Affluent and middle-class Filipinos criticize the government for its lenient implementation of the rule of law and for babying the illegal settlers by allowing them to live in a land funded through the hard work of others. According to Srinivas, in this view, squatter settlement is a mass invasion of private and public properties, a "social evil" that needs to be eradicated without taking seriously the basic question of "adequate housing for all. …

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