His name is Renato and his 13, but not for much longer. His birthday is in February, although he have never received a birthday present in his life. He have been living on the street for the last six years.
His parents are living but not together. His mother ran off with his father’s brother, though not before having nine children with his father. Now his father has a new woman who is pregnant with a new brother or sister for Him. Two of his sisters have children so he have two nephews that he love very much. [The family live in a slum shack made of corrugated iron with dirt floors and no facilities.] He don’t see his mother much. His father cannot work as he has problems with his back.
It was his choice to live on the streets and not with his family. There were too many of them living in the small house in the slum. He did not get on with his sister. She was the oldest and took control when his mother left. He didn’t like this. they’ve never got on very well. Also there wasn’t enough money for all of them to eat. It was terrible. So he took to the streets to be with his eldest brother who was already sleeping there, as were two of his other younger brothers. He lives in Luneta many children sleep in its abandoned Bayani Fernando’s “Pink Uniral” and they could beg for money, as there were many people. But he was not with his brother for long. He began to sleep alone or sometimes with other children. Now he sleep in many different places but most of the time outside the cinema or in the bathrooms.
He have to work. He don’t go to school, He can read and write very little [he’s very proud of his elaborate signature] and he’s too young for a good job, so he sell estampita [cards with religious images] on the street, on buses or in restaurants and underpass in Quiapo. He often get pulled out of places by the arm and people shout at him to leave. Other children sell these cards too: many are forced to by parents who need money for alcohol. So people are wary about giving money. This makes his job more difficult. Usually he work around the clock, but he never eat anything until he can jackpot on the wallet he snatched.
In the morning he wake up and wash his face – in the fountain if he sleep in the plaza or outside the cinema and in Manila Bay if he sleep in the bathroom. Then he work on the busy street eyeing for a victim who are busy talking to their cellphone.He bought pandesal,if he has extra money he buy mami and siopao, his father teaches him to drink sioktong at an early age and smoke marijuana. He drink and smoke marijuana often but only take shabu occasionally [a form of crack cocaine, highly addictive and very cheap] because he only wish to try it. he don’t like it because it makes him crazy. He buy it from a house, from a man who sells to children. he can give you the address and phone number if you like. [Dealers invite children into their homes with offers of food in order to get them hooked.] he smoke and drink because he need to forget his day – his situation, his life, is difficult and he need help to sleep.
Life for him on the street is hard enough but the police and other strangers make it worse. There are people on the street who molest children. He have been raped. The police are very violent with them; they don’t help children, not even a little bit. Once when he was very hungry and desperate for clothes, which he couldn’t buy , he robbed a lady. She was walking down the street and Renato took her handbag. A policeman saw him. He grabbed him and clubbed him, no-one stopped the policeman. Then he was put in prison for more than a year [in an adult prison without trial at the age of 10. The prison was horrible. Horrible. The police beat him. He was alone but at least he got free food. That was great. His torso covered with scars and cigarette burns.
Other people do worse things. he knew a kid, nine years old, who slept in an abandoned car that had no wheels or windows because it was warm in there. One night a man came with a lighter and burned him alive. When he went to the police they did nothing. Nothing. he don’t understand why a man would do this, the motherfucker… The kid was only nine! It was a horrible thing to do, and for what? he don’t understand.
Ask if he still have hope in his life.
He wish Gloria arroyo will give jobs for poor people. Also to look on those who do not have homes: He hope that she will give houses to them. She has promised it already but it was not implemented. That’s why graduates work in other countries – to earn more money. They leave their families here and are not able to take care of them. They cannot see their loved ones because they have to work for them to be able to live, because they cannot depend on their employment here in the Philippines, because she is not giving jobs to the Filipinos.
He wish that he can go to school, able to learn how to protect himself from those people who abuse him.
Ask if he watch TV.
He said: How he wish to go to WOWOWE, Hoping that Willie will give him a break to sing like O-Ling.
He said he watch the Senate Inquiry on the Fertilzer scams on TV.
Ask what can he say about Bolante.
Renato said that Bolante is a Joke, a liar.Renato said he spent his time at an early age in prison for robbing one hundred pesos from a lady. Why Bolante stay at St.Luke and get the best medical attention if he diverted more than 700 million pesos.
Renato also said that Enrile is being friendly to Bolante.
Renato said he want to become a lawyer, if he is given a change he want to enroll in UP. He want to take Political Science. But he said “Sayang!”