Our version of Tondo | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

Our version of Tondo

Each morning I’m greeted by topless kids with big bellies, playing and badmouthing each other. Instead of being in school they’re in the street, running around and cussing. They may be very young but they can let loose with expletives you usually hear only from adults.

Walking in my high heels and my most fashionable business attire, I’ll hear a teenaged girl carrying what looks like a month-old baby scolding the kids, ordering them to go home and take a bath.

This is how I generally start my day before I sit comfortably at my office table and work on my computer. You may think that I’ve seen the worst. Well, my day has not even started.


And as much as I want to grab some coffee or a good drink somewhere after a day’s work, I can’t. I have to be home early in order to be saved from the dangers lurking in the neighborhood.


At night, aside from dark alleys you’ll be welcomed by drunkards blocking the way. You’ll notice illegal deals going on in street corners, not to mention stray dogs waiting for prey.

You may think that the only peaceful time I can have is at home. Well, I guess not. When I was a kid, drug raids were rampant in our neighborhood. I’d witness brawls and hear curses and screams as our neighbors get dragged out by the cops. Not more than two days later, I’d see the same people back in the neighborhood.


Petty fights are common. Producers of “Face to Face” and “Personalan” can have a yearlong episode if they’d just visit our place.

Maybe you’re wondering: So why am I stuck here? But it’s not as if I have a choice. No day has passed that I didn’t ask myself the same question. It’s as if I’m stuck in a world where I don’t, or don’t want to, belong.

It’s hard to admit, but this is the only place that my family has, and as much as we want to go somewhere peaceful, we can’t just leave. Right now, we can’t afford to buy a decent house or move elsewhere because of financial constraints.

I could have been that teenaged mother scolding a fat three-year-old, or that druggie being hauled in by police, had I not locked myself in our house and pretended that I was not part of this world. My parents have always reminded me to stay away from our neighbors’ business and try to live as normal and peaceful a life as possible. It was actually not difficult to do.

Comments and gossip from our neighbors are easy to ignore. But when it comes to people outside, the comments are a little downgrading. I’m fully aware of our community’s reputation. And when I was growing up, I found it hard to deal with people who judged me according to where I live.

I can still remember when this guy in my class asked me where I lived, and I confidently told him my address. He smiled and said, “Really? How much is shabu there?” I tried as much as I could not to be offended. I threw him a cute smile and said, “I don’t know. But I’ll ask.” I wasn’t at all sarcastic in my reply. Joking is easier than lying.

It’s better that other people laugh at me or judge me because of where I come from than pretend or lie about it. I’m fully aware that I’m unfortunate to live in a place like this, but this is better than being homeless. Our environment is just an external factor, and it’s up to my family and me to allow it to affect the way we want to live—or not. It sometimes limits us from what we want to do, but that’s as far as it can go.

I’m not saying that I’m content living in this small version of Tondo. I’m not. And I don’t plan to live here forever. That’s why I’m trying very hard to work on my dream of having my own house in a peaceful, safe and neighbor-friendly environment, with my family and my future family.

On the other hand, I’m still thankful that I’m able to experience all these. At least I know how it feels to be part of something I see in the movies.

I may not have a complete idea of what Tondo may be or feel like. But from all those movies and stories that I have seen and heard, I feel like I’m a superstar!

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Crisel Blenda P. Bautista, 21, is an information analyst.

TAGS: opinion, tondo, Young Blood

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