Southern Luzon and Taal Volcano


It’s about two in the morning, and we’re standing on a busy street corner in Quezon City, a part of Manila. We’ve been brought here by outreach workers from a small organization working to help teenage prostitutes create alternatives to lives that seem to us to be completely miserable.

It’s sweltering even at this time of night, and the whole scene is dark and loud and bleak. In between constant interruptions from car horns, pimps, and friends, 15-year-old girls tell us about the economics of their lives and the health issues they face. They are getting help from Kabalikat ng Pamilyang Pilipino Foundation, a local social service agency.

Kabalikat receives funds from the Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, our client. Consuelo has as its mission to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged children, women and families. Nearly 60 Philippine organizations receive a large part of their funding from Consuelo. A couple of us have been hired to help the social service agencies funded by the Foundation to create management and service standards.

I’d never had the slightest interest in Philippines as a destination, which turned out to be ridiculous, as it is a fantastically interesting place. Stunning rural beauty, complicated history, strange politics, great people. Even Manila’s huge ugliness is something to behold.

I wrote a story about the experience for Foundation News and Commentary. (Photo essay on consulting in the Philippines)