(SPOT.ph) The question "Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?" is etched into the minds of Pinoys everywhere. So much so that people now use it as a joke—but one picture might just remind people of the serious situation behind it. A photo of Tondo's kids scavenging for trash, drenched in the filthy waters of Manila Bay, has just been awarded the 2019 United Nations Children's Fund Photo of the Year.
Taken by German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach of the Argus Photo Agency, the photo is chillingly titled "Philippines: Garbage, the Children and Death." At the center of the picture is Wenie Mahiya, 13 years old at the time, reaching across to grab what may be a prize for these kids: a bit of trash to sell.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) website, Filipino children as young as 10 or seven make a living scavenging for garbage in Manila Bay's filthy waters. If lucky, they can make up to P50 daily. It is not a job meant for children—if it can even be called a job at all—who are exposed to numerous diseases and dangers: dengue, Leptospirosis, skin diseases, food poisoning, malnutrition, the list goes on.
Schwarzbach's photos of Tondo's kids captures "the convergence of three different disasters," says UNICEF's write-up: "Grinding poverty, child labor, and oceans overflowing with garbage." We may laugh sardonically everytime someone hums the jingle, but these pictures serve as a reminder of the realities we have to face. We also can't help but ask: Where's the Department of Social Welfare and Development?
Images © HARTMUT SCHWARZBACH, GERMANY (ARGUS PHOTO AGENCY).