MANILA, Philippines – Nancy Branzuala is 45 years old and has 2 children. She runs a sari-sari in Southville 8b, Montalban, a National Housing Authority relocation site.
Two years ago, Nancy was an informal settler in Guadalupe Viejo… a poor community in Makati city.
When the shantytown burned down, leaving 10,000 homeless, Nancy had no choice but relocate to Montalban. She is now president of the neighborhood association.
Now Nancy earns less and pays more for housing in Montalban.
“Here, life is difficult. There is no work for the people. If you have a store, nobody buys from you,” said Nancy.
On election day, Nancy says 150 voters return to their former neighborhood. Transportation courtesy of Barangay Guadalupe Viejo, Makati. Translation: politicians want their vote.
Nancy says they take advantage of the free transportation…but vote whom they want to vote.
Her next-door neighbor, Mercy Macalber, is one of them.
“There, as a squatter, we always worried about fires. Here, I have my own home,” said Mercy.
Mercy chooses to vote in Makati where she still works as a domestic helper.
“It’s nice here, since it is easy to earn money. More so than in Montalban, you starve all the way out there. I actually prefer to live here, but we didn’t own the house,” said Mercy as she overlooked the empty lot in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati where she used to live.
On her way to the voting precinct, Mercy stopped in for lunch with Romano Castillo, her neighbor in Montalban and the husband of Nancy.
Romano lives in Montalban during the week, and Makati on the weekends. He also chooses to vote in Makati, not Montalban.
“The reason that we want to vote in Makati, there are many privileges. Hospitalization, free education for children, privileges for seinor citizens,” said Romano, who holds jobs in both Montalban and Makati.
Although Nancy, Romano, and Mercy technically live in Montalban, scarce resources in their new home compel them to keep one foot, and one finger, in Makiti.
Daniel Rudin, Rappler, Manila.