Mi Ultimo Adios... #5


root - Posted on 23 November 2003

An insider journey to the Philippine Islands

by Mariluna/PNN Youth in the Media report

A. The youth court system

B. Manila’s Juvenile Hall

C. Youth Representation in Manila City Hall

D. This past weekend

A. So, the typhoon passed up the Philippines (thank you to all the emails I received from people making sure I was fine),
and it did flood here a little bit. There was also a Brownout (we say blackout), so there was no electricity or water for
a day. In other news, I have moved. I now live in what is known as Metro Manila. I live in La Paz Barrio of Makati City.
This is known as the “squatter’s area.” This is a very poor area. I live in a house full of other volunteers. But
on to other news, I visited Manila’s City Hall. In fact I have been here three times already. My first time I visited,
I attended a juvenile court hearing. The courtroom was tiny. I only got to see one hearing actually though, all of the
other hearings had to be reset because the Public Attorney (public defender) was not present. In the end the hearing was
reset. The Public prosecutor was one hour and 5 minutes late. My friend, who is a social worker for the youth cases, told
me it is very common for the Public Prosecutor, and the Public Attorney to show up late after the judge. Also many of the
youth or their parents didn’t show up either. There also was no Guard. The court hearing was in English, and Filipino
was only spoken when it was spoken to the judge first. I also got to talk to the judge after the hearings. She seemed
very understanding of the youth and the parents. She spoke to everyone in a tone that made a person feel relaxed. She
told me later on that:We need to be patient, and adjust to their circumstances. She was speaking in reference to
the youth. That blew me away. She reminded me of a trusting mother. I was told later that she was one of the most
understanding and fair judges in City Hall.

B. Next, I went to Manila’s Juvenile Hall. Here it is called MYRC, this stands for Manila Youth Reception Center. It is
for ages 12-18. In Metro Manila, there are only two detention centers. Many times the youth are locked up in adult jails.
The language they used blew me away. A Jail cell is called a dormitory. The youth were not called “juveniles” but
“Children in conflict with the Law.” The every dormitory has house parents. They called MYRC a Shelter not a juvenile
hall. They also have many volunteers from various higher education institutions. One of their services was called “Home
Life Services” which deals with the youth’s dorm life. They also have seminars. Some that were scheduled was a
Parents Effectiveness Seminar, which was for the parents of the children. There was peer group counselling for the youth.
They also have prayer meetings, and had a huge statue of Jesus Christ. I also got to visit the youth inside the dorms.
They had one dorm for girls, which had about 10-15 girls inside the room. There were four dorms for boys, which had about
30 plus youth inside each dorm. The staff person told me that most of the girls locked up have been sexually abused, that
is why they have the Center for the Protection of Women. The youth in every dorm all greeted us (the staff people I was
with and I) like a chorus line. “Good Afternoon, Visitors!”

C. On my last day as a Commissioner, I decided I would visit Manila City Hall and find out what kind youth
representation they had. I found out there was a Youth Bureau. So I walked in the office, and there was many youth in the
office (This reminded me of Room 345 in City Hall.) I was directed to one of the head staff people. He was 21 years
old. In the Philippines they define youth between the ages of 15-35. He told me the way they have youth representation
in Manila. First during the adult elections there is also the SK elections on the ballot (SK stands for two really long
Filipino words I couldn’t spell). If a youth is between the ages of 15-17 they have the right to vote provided they
live in Manila. They register with their department of elections so they can vote in the SK elections. In these
elections, a youth votes for their SK Chairman (or chairwoman) to represent their district of Manila. The votes are
tallied, and then there is a SK Chairman. Then all the SK Chairmen elect a President. This President is their
representative to the City Council, and can introduce legislation, and is also paid. The President is also called the
Youth Sector Representative. There is also a youth picked to represent to the National Youth Commission. They sit on this
Commission and are called Commissioner. There are also Youth Councils for every Barangay (this is a small community.)
There are hundreds of Barangays in Manila. There is also a Child Welfare Code being created, so the Youth Bureau held
many Public Forums for youth to see what they would what in this code. They run a summer youth job program, which is like
Youth Works in San Francisco. A youth is placed in a department of the Manila City Government and is paid. They also have
internship in their office. They run the Manila Youth Games, which had over 10,000 youth participate last time. They do
many events. I was told that the Mayor believes that the youth must be involved in public service. They also took a
contingent of 7,000 youth to a pro-peace rally during the time Bush was deciding to go to war or not. I also found out
that no one in the Youth Bureau was over the age of 35, even the director of the Youth Bureau was 35 years old. I also
found out that the Mayor’s son, who is 32, is involved in the Youth Bureau. The staff jokingly told me that he is their
consultant to the Mayor for their Budget.

D. This past weekend I spent with family and I went to Tagatay. This area is famous for their pineapples and Buko Pie
(this is coconut). I ate so much food; I swear I ate like seven times a day. It was great. My relative also showed me
where the People’s Power Revolution happened. This was the revolution that kicked out Marcos. Marcos was more of like
dictator than a President. He was in charge for over 20 years. There was martial law while he was in charge. I also found
out that a good friend of Marcos was President Regan. This past Sunday there was also about 200-300 military members who
stood opposed to the government. The stand-off was here in Makati. They were given till 5pm to submit to the government
or the government backed military would go in and declare fire. Then they were given a two-hour extension. Then I guess
settles and talks happened because it ended. In the end, no one was hurtâ€| This happened the day before the President
gave the State of the Nation Address.

Wow, so as you can see I have done so much stuff, and next week I will discuss my experience about RAC (Reception Action
Center), a place where houseless people are forced by cops to stay atâ€| Stay tunedâ€|.

And as for a Flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one “ our states do it:
We can have our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and stars replaced by the skull and cross bones.“
Mark Twain talking in reference to the United States colonizing the Philippines.

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