Week 4. The time is 3:49 AM on my wrist watch. The time when most of us are still in deep slumber, hugging the comforts of our warm pillows. For students during exam week, this could be the time for cramming study of lessons for a 7 o'clock test. For computer gamers, this could be the time when the Sentinels finally destroy Scoruges' Ancient in DoTA. But for the children in Tagum City's public market, this is a time for work. The kind of work that are usually performed by grown ups. But more than their home and playground, the public market is also their school. Most of these children are students of the Palengkeskwelahan of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) as initiated by the City Government of Tagum. The program brings the classroom to the work place for these impoverished children who by the dictate of their living conditions have to work and earn money at young age to survive than going and studying to formal schools. The clock is ticking fast towards the cold rainy break of dawn, my camera keeps on clicking, catching the children of the market in their daily routinary norms.
|FATHER AND SON. A father and son tandem sacking the discarded leaves of cabbage at the Bagsakan in Tagum City Public Market.|
|ONION PEELERS. These children mostly on their teens, peel and clear onions of its unwanted dermal coverings. Working under vegetable stalls, these children earn 10 pesos per sack of the commodity.|
|FAST HANDS. Armed with razor edged cutter, a boy who is once a learner of Palengkeskwelahan that stopped midway, in his swift hands, work its way of clearing an onion its outer covering.|
|SHARING WARMTH. Congested in folding beds outside a stall in the public market, exposed in the cold of dawn, these children sleep in groups so as share some heat to each other.|