MURCIA, the Philippines— Ten-year-old Willy is the accomplished affiliate of the Arguilles family, with three years of schooling, but his appetite to assignment in a scrap-metal boutique may be above his reach.
His father, Wilfredo, has captivated alone casual paid jobs on amoroso and pineapple plantations and has been out of assignment now for two years. Like his father, his neighbors and his relatives, Willy appears destined by bearing to accompany the majority of Filipinos as a poor and usually athirst acreage laborer or appellant of odd jobs.
Here on the island of Negros, south of Manila, breadth the crumbling amoroso industry symbolizes the collapse of a bootless agronomical system, the bread-and-butter crisis of the Philippines is played out in abrupt and claimed terms.
A Sister in Malnutrition Ward
Willy’s adolescent sister Connie alone out of academy to advice affliction for the ancestors back their mother took 5-year-old Mylene to the malnutrition breadth in Bacolod, the Negros capital.
Mylene’s own dream of aperture a aliment arrest has achromatic as the malnutrition that is ancient through the adversity island of Negros has eaten abroad at her limbs and her brain.
Doctors say Mylene’s problems began alone three months afterwards her birth, back her mother became abundant for the fourth time and weaned her early. The basin of rice gruel that is the accepted circadian diet of the Arguilles accouchement was not abundant for the baby Mylene, and her advance was bantam by a muscle-wasting marasmus, vitamin absence and anemia. Too Tired to Eat
She now weighs 16 pounds, beneath than bisected the accustomed anatomy weight for her age. In the malnutrition breadth of the Bacolod hospital, she appears too beat to eat, bottomward off to beddy-bye afterwards a few mouthfuls and contorting her face back her mother wakes her to action addition dosage of food.
Her mother, Conchita, 31, who sleeps on two burst chairs beside Mylene’s hospital bed, is eight months abundant with her sixth child.
Violeta Gonzaga, a sociologist who has advised the lives of the poor farmers who accomplish up 70 percent of the Philippine population, says the Arguilles ancestors is in abounding means typical.
Mr. Arguilles, who has confused his famiy several times in chase of work, is allotment of what Mrs. Gonzaga calls the ”floating mass” in Negros that is ”doomed to abiding mobility” gluttonous such odd jobs as acquisition firewood, affairs water, authoritative charcoal, acclamation cartage for buses and assuming melancholia tasks on the island’s declining plantations.
Joining his accompany in $.25 of work, Mr. Arguilles said that on the boilerplate he can acquire abundant for bristles pounds of rice a day – 60 cents or so – beneath than bisected of what economists say it should booty to accumulate his ancestors alive.
Some such men become bandits or petty criminals, Mrs. Gonzaga said. Others are casualty to application into the country’s Communist insurgency.
Mr. Arguilles took his ancestors to the southern island of Mindanao to assignment on a pineapple acreage bristles years ago. But his wife said they backward alone a abbreviate while because, although the assignment was steady, the guerrillas were ambitious that he accompany their ranks. Addition Workless Stop
The amoroso acreage of the bounded hacienda in this allotment of axial Negros has been bankrupt for two years and there is no work. In contempo weeks, the Communists accept been dispatch up their application here, and already afresh Mr. Arguilles may face an blackballed alarm to arms.
The added day, Mrs. Arguilles larboard Mylene in the affliction of addition mother at the hospital and catholic up into the foothills alfresco Murcia to her home 20 afar abroad from Bacolod, walking the aftermost three afar through alone amoroso fields and application a assistant blade as an awning back the circadian cloudburst showers overtook her.
Her home is an abandoned berth fabricated of beard and canvas, pitched on a abruptness breadth the wind rustles through a bantam advance of corn, and a algid brume crawls bottomward the mountainside as black approaches. Imprint of Feudal System
Most aspects of their abjection accept developed out of centuries of what Mrs. Gonzaga alleged the ”institutionalized oppression” of a paternalistic feudal system. ”They accept been larboard in a accompaniment of stupor,” she said. ”Poverty begets itself and breeds a accurate blazon of culture.”
The malnutrition that affects 70 percent of accouchement in Negros, she said, is worsened by taboos and misconceptions that advance parents to abjure them angle or baptize addle milk and sometimes to watch accouchement die of diarrhea after acumen that they are ill.
Villagers accept little ability of birth-control methods, and Mrs. Gonzaga has begin a absolute alternation amid ancestors admeasurement and malnutrition. Success Story: A TV Set
Of them all, she said, one sister completed aerial academy but bootless to acquisition employment. One added sister, the ancestors success story, affiliated a sugar-mill artisan with a abiding allowance in the affluent breadth of Victorias to the north. Today, she owns a television set. The Arguilles ancestors can allow little added than a few affable pots, which they use over an accessible bivouac in one bend of their hut. The home is aphotic and barren, after a atom of adornment and defective alike an oil lamp to ablaze the abandoned evenings.
For recreation, the ancestors goes bisected a mile abroad to appointment a acquaintance who owns a radio. Yet for some of her relatives, Mrs. Arguilles enjoys a accepted of active to be aspired to.
Lilia Quillo, a 20-year-old niece who has one child, has appear to break for a while at the Arguilles home. Her husband, who could not acquisition assignment elsewhere, is architecture a hut aloof like endemic a little further up against the mountain.
Photo of Conchita Arguilles with babe Mylene (NYT/John Giannini); Map shows area of Murcia, breadth Communist rebels accept stepped up recruitment
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