‘We need to eat’: Philippine boy’s struggle to feed his family

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13-year-old Reymark Cavesirano collects left over herring onboard a fishing boat anchored at the mouth of Manila Bay off Navotas City in suburban Manila. (AFP)
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After spending three hours in different boats he heads back to land and divides the catch up for his family’s consumption with the rest sold to neighbors. (AFP)
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Cavesirano, a grade five student, paddles to the anchored fishing boats and helps crew clean their nets. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019
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‘We need to eat’: Philippine boy’s struggle to feed his family

  • About one in five of the 106 million people live in extreme poverty, getting by on less than $2 per day
  • Many, including children, work long hours as street vendors or laborers to make enough to feed themselves

MANILA: Reymark Cavesirano, 13, leaves before dawn each weekend day on a perilous trip out into Manila Bay to make enough to feed his family, one of millions of deeply poor Filipinos who face a daily struggle for survival.
Aboard a raft pieced together from discarded wood and sheets of styrofoam, he uses his bare hands as paddles for the hour-long journey to the fishing boats where he works.
About one in five of the Philippines’ 106 million people live in extreme poverty, getting by on less than $2 per day.
Many, including children, work long hours as street vendors or laborers to make enough to feed themselves.
Cavesirano, along with men at least twice his age, helps fishermen clean their nets by removing fish stuck in the gear.
He keeps the fish as payment, paddles back to land and then sells them to buy food and medicine for his family.
“My back usually aches from paddling but I cannot stop. I have to continue because we need to eat,” Cavesirano told AFP.
The boy, who attends elementary school during the week, lives with his grandparents in a shelter pieced together from bamboo and plastic sheeting in a squatter community on the shore of Manila Bay. He is estranged from his mother.
Cavesirano’s grandmother Remedios Santos said she was against her grandson working because of the risks he faces on the water but he was persistent.
“I told him it is dangerous. But he said ‘Mama, other people won’t help us in life. So I will help you’,” said the 55-year old Santos, who still works as a scavenger.
On a good day, Cavesirano can bring home a kilo of rice, which is enough to feed his family for the day, and 300-400 pesos ($6-$8).
The money helps pay for his grandfather’s tuberculosis medicine and cover his school allowance for the coming week.
The boy, who started working on the boats at the age of 10 after his brother taught him how to swim, dreams of finishing school and providing a better life for his family.
“I want to reciprocate my grandparents’ kindness. I want them to have a three-story house made from concrete,” Cavesirano said.


US ‘House of Horrors’ parents jailed for torture, abuse

Updated 4 min 19 sec ago
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US ‘House of Horrors’ parents jailed for torture, abuse

  • David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 50, had pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts — including cruelty, false imprisonment, child abuse and torture of their children aged three to 30
  • The case came to light last year when one of the children, aged 17, escaped through a window from the couple’s home and called the emergency services

RIVERSIDE: A California couple were handed life sentences Friday after admitting to imprisoning and torturing 12 of their 13 children in a grisly “House of Horrors” case that shocked the world.
David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 50, had pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts — including cruelty, false imprisonment, child abuse and torture of their children aged three to 30 — and will serve at least 25 years before they are eligible for parole.
In an emotionally wrenching hearing, several of the children professed continued love for their parents, who lived in the city of Perris, 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.
“I never intended for any harm to come to my children. I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to cause them harm,” David Turpin told the court in the nearby city of Riverside, via a statement read out by his attorney.
The case came to light last year when one of the children, aged 17, escaped through a window from the couple’s home and called the emergency services.
Both Turpins fought back tears throughout the hearing, with Louise visually trembling as two of her own children came into court.
“My parents took my whole life from me, but now I’m taking my life back,” one of the couple’s daughters said, while a son said he still loved his parents and had forgiven them.
According to excerpts of the initial emergency call released during court proceedings, the escaped girl told the dispatcher two of her siblings were chained to beds so tightly that their skin was bruised.
She struggled to tell the operator her home address, saying: “I’ve never been out. I don’t go out much.”
She told responding officers that the house was so dirty she couldn’t breathe and that she and her siblings never took baths.
“They chain us up if we do things we’re not supposed to,” she said. “Sometimes, my sisters wake up and start crying (because of the pain).”
An officer who interviewed the teen after her escape said she was so emaciated that he first thought she was a child.
He said the girl described being forced to sleep 20 hours a day and in the middle of the night eating a combination of lunch and dinner that most often consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, chips and microwaved food.
One of the older children also told investigators that the couple would lock him and his siblings in cages as punishment and beat them with paddles.
Since their rescue, the children have been in the care of child and adult protective services.
The Turpins moved from Texas to California in 2010. Investigators have said it is unclear what prompted the abuse.
Turpin professed his love for the youngsters before the sentence was pronounced, while his wife read her own statement, apologizing to her children and adding: “I only want the best for them. Their happiness is very important to me.”
Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz told the Turpins their children’s lives had been permanently altered, by their “selfish, cruel and inhumane” actions.
They were given credit for an early admission of guilt that spared their children the pain of testifying against them at trial.
Turpin, an aerospace engineer, had registered as the principal of their purported home school program set up through the California Department of Education.
But prosecutors said the enterprise was bogus, and accused Turpin of lying on forms filed with the state.
Sheriff’s Deputy Manuel Campos testified in a preliminary hearing about his interview with the initial escapee, recalling how the girl’s hair was filthy and her skin was caked with dirt.
He said the girl admitted “being scared to death” about fleeing but felt desperate to get out and leapt from an open window.
Campos said the teenager had been planning an escape for two years and was ultimately able to procure a mobile phone discarded by her older brother.
She used it to snap pictures of her younger sisters — all of whom were severely malnourished — chained to beds.
The girl’s only exercise was pacing back and forth in the room she shared with her two younger sisters, according to the deputy.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the victims were allowed to shower only once a year.