At an early age, a child’s favorite place in the world is the playground. Here, a child sees the world as his own—the sandbox, the monkey bars, and the swings—everything is his to touch and play with. More often than not, he runs around with his playmates around the playground, as if nothing else matters but playing with them. The playground, filled with toys, children and laughter, gives us an idea of a harmless and fun place. But this isn’t always the case. In Diwalwal, Davao del Norte, a young child’s playground can be found under the gold mines of Mt Diwata. Instead of sandboxes, he has gold mines where he should quarry; instead of monkey bars and swings, he has to harness himself and wear helmets for caution. His toys are heavy hammers and flashlights taped around his head, and his playmates are men far more aged than he is. Quarrying for gold, a young child of Diwalwal sees the world as his own—the thick white smoke that filled the walls, the pulley that brought them up and down the cave mine, and the metal rods that prevented the walls from collapsing—everything is his to touch and work with. Nothing about this scene can convince us that this is a safe place for a child. The streets of Diwalwal lined dark colored creeks, which in all likelihood contained human excrement. The air reeked of high-mercury content, which proved to be extremely dangerous for a closed community. There was no space in the vicinity that did not have garbage, but people didn’t seem to mind. The foul stench of the area came hand in hand with the cascading tins of metals that housed a couple of families. Everywhere, people are scrambling about and minding their own business. Point is, the slums, as people refer to it, is definitely not a place where you raise your family and children. From what we have pictured, the community suffers from extreme poverty. Since there was no school in or anywhere near the vicinity to cater to potential...
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