Citizen Reportr: For This Family and Its Dogs, a Pedicab is Home

While most of us can't wait to go out of our homes once the general community quarantine is lifted, there are many who are already out of their own homes. And not by choice.

Anton Velasco is just one of the many Filipinos whose livelihood has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic and literally got locked out in the ensuing lockdown. On Thursday, Reportr lensman Jerome Ascaño noticed the 47-year-old and his extended family on the streets of Manila, where they have been roaming in a pedicab that also doubles as their makeshift home.

Jerome Ascano

"Wala kaming pang-upa ng bahay," explained Velasco, who was with his sons Anthony, 12, and Angelo, 8, and their companion Mang Jess, 48. "Dati nangungupahan kami ng bahay dito sa Bustillos, sa may Legarda. Eh naubusan ng pera, kaya nasa labas kami."

They have been moving in and out of homelessness for several years now. Velasco and his kids had to brave the concrete jungle after his wife's death exhausted their funds. With the COVID-19 situation making it harder to make a living, the group has to scour for recyclable materials (kalakal) as their source of income.

"Hanap-hanap lang kami ng mga kalakal. Pulot-pulot lang sa kalsada, ikot-ikot."

Jerome Ascano
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What about the government's social amelioration program?

Anton sighed, "Wala eh. May mga nagbibigay-bigay lang dito, edi kinukuha namin."

Canine companions

Their pedicab house reinforced with old cardboard boxes isn't even the most eye-catching part of this humble caravan. Sitting on top of the "mobile home" are three of the five dogs that accompany the Velascos, namely Dogdog, Jojo, Elma, Whitey, and Blackey.

"'Yung iba binigay, pero 'yung dati naming aso itong dalawa lang," Anton shared. "Kesa magpalaboy-laboy, kinuha at inalagaan na lang namin."

Jerome Ascano

Only two of the mutts are originally owned by Velasco, and the rest were just given to him. He could've left them, but he couldn't abandon the poor strays. His paternal instinct told him the dogs were part of the family.

As Father's Day approaches, Anton's wish is simple.

"Sana magkaroon ng bahay. At saka sana matapos na 'yung lockdown, mawala na 'yung virus. Para makabalik na sa trabaho."

Jerome Ascano
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