By Zed Chino T. Calleja
The image above is a reflection of the social stratification in the country. The child in the photo is a representation of the lower classes in the informal sector. His work involves helping people park in a particular commercial establishment. Just like many of those in the lower classes, he has to stay in harsh working conditions — under the sun all day and exposed to pollution.
His work can also be dangerous as it involves going in the middle of the road and stopping vehicles so that the customers can park and leave the establishment easily and safely. He does all these for very little money. The establishment represents the institutions in our country with mindsets that value capital more than labor. The establishment allows the child to do his dangerous job on their property because he may bring in more customers, which in turn will generate more income.
It would also entail additional expenses and less capital if the establishment will hire a security guard to provide this service to the customers instead of the child. The customer in the photo, on the other hand those in the middle or upper classes who allow or even encourage the lower classes to stay in that condition. They remain at the bottom as we stay on top and create social closure and continue social reproduction.
One can argue that giving the child money is done out of kindness but underlying factors that are not so positive, such as the intention to get cheap services (in this case, assistance in parking), should be considered. Given that social stratification is apparent on such a micro level and is instilled in children at a very young age, it is not surprising that it is very hard to break the vicious cycle of inequality and poverty in the Philippines.