From sleeping in slums to a scholarship in Germany

Photo from Daniel's Facebook page via

Photo from Daniel’s Facebook page via

Daniel Dejapin grew up on the streets, selling roses by Manila Bay. In August, he is headed to Germany for a full scholarship at The Robert Bosch United World College

By Natashya Gutierrez/ – In a small, narrow alley at the heart of Ermita, Manila, is a row of shanties.

On the road, a smattering of stained, ratty mattresses are laid out in the hot afternoon sun, kids and adults sprawled atop, napping. The sun is unforgiving. But it is cooler out here than inside their homes, where there is no electricity.

Daniel Dejapin, 19, lives in one of these shanties.

What Daniel considers his house is no more than 20 square meters in size, a square space where he, his parents and his 4 other siblings live. It’s located on the bottom floor of an old, abandoned building and sits right by the side of the road, separated from all the other shanties by a mere curtain, their door. The tiny box is the bedroom, kitchen, living room all rolled into one.

The area – consisting of dwellings made only of light materials – are a clear fire hazard.

“The first time it burned, in 2010, we were able to recover because we asked help from relatives,” he said. “But the second time, in 2012, everything was gone. We had nothing left. So we had to sleep on the streets again.”

Sleeping on the streets is not foreign to Daniel. As a child, Daniel considered the Baywalk by Manila Bay – where he used to sell flowers – his home. This, as well as street corners of closed-down buildings, benches, parks, or wherever he could find to spend the night.

Daniel lived half his life on the streets of Manila, and the other half on the alleyway he now considers home.


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