We visited Barangay Panapaan, one of the impoverished areas in Bacoor, Cavite, last Friday June 4, 2010. I had to climb a wall to reach where they live because the owner of the lot across the street took their right of way; a narrow alley that leads them to their home because they’re considered squatters and they have no rights, hundreds of them. They live in makeshift houses near a river with muddy water overflowing with garbage.  A lump formed in my throat and I had to struggle to hold back my tears as a group of kids swam and played in this filthy river. It’s heart wrenching to see their living conditions. It breaks my heart, these are real faces, real people, no one deserves to live like that, but the fact remains that the poorest of the Philippines poor live among mountains of garbage and families are scavenging just to survive. The gap between the rich and the poor is immeasurable, but even though these children been through so much over the years I saw smiles on their faces. They greeted me with open arms, hugs, laughter and so much love. I felt the sense of hope and the resilience that exists in each of the people that I met in this area.  Filipinos do not easily give up; they are fighters and survivors and they have the ability to face even the most difficult tests in life with a cheery smile. It’s a sad world, but happiness exists no matter how or where you live. The root and cause of poverty will likely not change in our lifetimes, but I am more inspired and motivated now to help get these kids in school because education is a major tool for these children to help themselves. Let’s save as many as we can.