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Slice of Life
Zesto and Exploited Child Labor Mar 20, 2017

Zesto and Exploited Child Labor

GPS waypoint: 10°38'45.95"N 124°22'53.72"E
Location Google Map: Camotes Islands, San Francisco (municipality), Cebu (province), Philippines

Child Labor up Close
I'm sure everyone has heard about child-labor exploitation by big business. Me too. That's something you hear or read on the news. But when you blatantly see it right in front of you, you can't help but be outraged. It's repulsive and disgusting to say the very least.

San Francisco Town Fiesta
I was reveling at the town fiesta in San Francisco, Camotes Islands in Cebu last weekend. I talked to everyone - silk screen vendors selling souvenir t-shirts, food stand vendors and revelers alike.

This is how I met a group of 4 young impressionable high school kids from Cagcagan, Poro, who were hired by Zesto to help man their booths for the fiesta. I thought it was a cool way to make extra income for the kids. In the passing weekend, I would often bump into them and say Hi and make small talk, which is how I was with people I met at the event.

Coming Back for Their Money
Monday, a day after the fiesta, the students had to excuse themselves from school to come back to San Francisco to get their pay. I was a little shocked. Why didn't Zesto pay them on the last night? The girls worked for 2 days from 8am and on one day, until 1am! Why did Zesto have to ask the students to come back for their pay the following day? Traveling to San Francisco and back to Poro isn't cheap on a motorbike - not for poor students from the barrio! And missing school for it? Was all that necessary when Zesto could have simply paid them on the last night?

Didn't Get Paid
Worse, when they arrived in San Francisco noon as per text message to them, the money wasn't even there. They waited for hours but no money came. They had to go back to school to take an important exam and had to come back again for their pay! Again, they waited for hours until it got dark and still their pay wasn't given to them.

Zesto and Exploited Child Labor
it was already dark and the students (still in their uniforms) had been there since noon waiting for their pay

Checking Out the Site
It was at this point I went to the site to see for myself what was happening. It was already dark - 7pm (see picture). The students were just standing there by the booth as the staff were loading the truck, preparing to leave. Again, my jaw dropped. Why wouldn't Zesto just pay the students? What good would it serve Zesto to have the students wait until the last cargo is loaded up? I was even wondering....would they actually pay the students? If the intention to pay was there, why not Sunday night after their last shift? Why not Monday noon when the students came back for their pay? When the loading is done, would the truck just speed away without paying the poor students?

I could not stand it anymore. I interjected and asked for the person who was in charge. I was pointed to a woman in her late 20s (the lady in white beside the girls in the picture). I asked her why the students haven't been paid yet. Her defiant answer was, "Are you their guardian?" I said it didn't matter if I'm the guardian or not. What's imperative was for the students to get their pay. I had to hammer-down the point that the students have already done their job and there was no excuse to delay payment any further. The lady just kept repeating herself, "Are you the guardian?" At this point, I realized the futility of debating with this woman. Before I left, I told her I was a writer and will do what is necessary to put the word out about what's happening. The students looked very afraid as they watched - they had no inkling I would intervene. I didn't want to meddle, but I felt duty-bound not to let that truck leave without those students getting paid.

A few minutes later, I received a text from one of them saying they were finally paid.

Ending Thoughts
I'm still wondering. If I didn't intervene, would the poor students be actually paid when the intention to pay was not evident? And how many times does this happen to impressionable young students who are so disempowered to even complain? And what is the recourse for young kids when something like this happens to them? Do they knock on the mayor's door? Go to the police? More often than not, it's just charged to experience, leaving them frustrated, low self-esteem and helpless against a system that's stacked against them.

And what will Zesto say about this? That they hire independent third parties for such events and that they have nothing to do with it? Sure, these companies are clever - they have deniability built into their process. That's like Zesto unleashing a pit bull on you and later deny culpability saying it wasn't them - it was the pit bull.

Perhaps not surprising, at the end of the day, the students didn't appreciate what I did. They got scared. They said they didn't want trouble with the company giving them a job. It's so sad to see how subservient and disempowered they have become. And that's why big business prey on them. At some point, perhaps after college, they'll become too disenchanted with the system that they will join the ranks of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and not come back. It's more fun in the Philippines? This festive slogan sweeps an ugly truth under the rug.

When you buy a Zesto product, you're helping this company continue this abusive child labor practice.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Facebook Users
(Mar 23, 2017) Since I released this story, I'd been harassed by repeated phone calls. Add to this the FAKE Fafa and Rosemarie replies which suggests these kids are controlled by their handlers. We're not just talking about a band of rip-off artists here but a local mafia...organized crime. Something big is lurking here. To all of my Davao friends who have close ties with President Duterte, perhaps you can call the president's attention on this. These perpetrators need to be stopped from preying on young kids.

FriendFriend(Mar 23, 2017) I read your Zesto entry. I hope you don't get into trouble with locals who protect Zesto there.

Joy LajaJoy Laja
(Mar 21, 2017) really? I'll try to check on this with Cagcagan barangay Captain..and why of all places kids from Cagcagan which is far from Sanfran..the green uniform suggests they are from Camotes Hillside Academy, a private school near San Fran

Joji Santos FerrerJoji Santos Ferrer
(Mar 21, 2017) Wow!! This is just so sad and very frustrating! Thank you for what you did for those children! Worth sharing....

Joanna Co LizaresJoanna Philippines
(Mar 21, 2017)

Jim WardJim Philippines
Thai Plum Village
(Mar 21, 2017) Wonder if they did their flight attendants same way ...

Kalyetista MiaKalyetista Mia
(Mar 21, 2017) Thank you for sharing this story, Git... Thank you for intervening in behalf of the kids. Namaste!

Jackie SanchezJackie
(Mar 21, 2017) Will share this, Git. More people should be aware.

Viveca HutchinsonViveca Philippines
Boracay SandCastles
(Mar 21, 2017) Shared this with a friend/client who works in another company owned by same Zesto owner, who is a former Philippine ambassador, so he may teach a thing or two to people who sell his products. Certainly not the way to treat our future workers. Thanks for writing about it, Git!

Google Map Camotes Islands, Cebu, Philippines

tourist attractions in Camotes Island tourist attractions
  • Lake Danao Park in Camotes Island Lake Danao Park - inland twin lakes in San Francisco
  • Santiago Bay Beach in Camotes Island Santiago Bay Beach - stretch of fine white sand with a cluster of beach resorts
  • Buho Rock in Camotes Island Buho Rock - dive boards perched from a high rock outcropping, Poro
  • Tulang Diot in Camotes Island Tulang Diot - white sand beach on a tiny island just 10 minutes by boat from the main Camotes Island
  • Busay Falls in Camotes Island Busay Falls - groomed plunge pool, dirt trail walk with 2 stream crossings, Tudela
  • Capasanan Spring in Camotes Island Capasanan Spring - crystal clear open spring water source in San Jose, Poro. Free
  • Hagnaon Spring in Camotes Island Hagnaon Spring - clean drinking water coming out of the rocks, dipping pool you might share with carabaos in San Jose, Poro. Free
caves in Camotes Island caves
  • Timubo Cave in Camotes Island Timubo Cave - groomed trail inside cave with lights, swimming inside, limited penetration
  • Bukilat Cave in Camotes Island Bukilat Cave - cathedral-like caverns, top lighting from cave openings, high tide swimming
  • Holy Crystal Cave in Camotes Island Holy Crystal Cave - cave formation glitters, human bones, limited penetration
  • Paraiso Cave in Camotes Island Paraiso Cave
places in Camotes Island important spots
  • San Francisco San Francisco - town center, wet market, municipal hall, eateries, live music, bar, Baywalk
  • Poro Poro - town center of Poro Municipality, port to Cebu City and Danao
  • Tudela Tudela - town center of Tudela Municipality
  • Pilar Pilar - town center of Pilar in the island of Ponson Island
  • Consuelo Wharf Consuelo Wharf - port for Danao ships
  • Poro Port Poro Port - port for Danao and Cebu City ships
hotels in Camotes Island resort hotel

Camotes Island FYI / Tips

Camotes Island Cost Index

(US$1 = Php 49.82 as of Jan 15, 2017)
Cebu City to Camotes Island
  • via Poro - from Pier One in Cebu City, take the Ocean Jet for Poro, 2 hours, daily trip - 6am and 3pm (0936.823.8762 |0956.270.6610 | 0999.889.9999).
  • via Consuelo - from Cebu City, take the northbound bus passing through Danao and get off at the Danao Port. At the Port, take a Jomalia Shipping boat for Consuelo (San Francisco, Camotes), P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).

Camotes Islands to Cebu City

  1. Poro - Cebu City (fastest and most direct) - go to Poro and take the 8am or 5pm Ocean Jet to Pier One in Cebu City, P380/pax/aircon, 2 hours
  2. Consuelo - Danao - Cebu City - go to Consuelo (San Francisco) and take the Jomalia Shipping boat to Danao, P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only). From Danao, take the Ceres Bus to Cebu City

Cebu City to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental by Boat

  • George and Peter Lines - Mon/Thur/Sat/Sun 10pm, (035)225.4337, 0922.557.1023
  • Oceanjet - via Tagbilaran, daily 6am,, 0918.898.2188
  • Cokaliong - Mon/Tue/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat 7pm, Sun 12pm, 6 hours, (035)225.3599
Danao to Camotes Island
  • via Consuelo - at the Danao Port, take a Jomalia Shipping boat for Consuelo (San Francisco, Camotes), P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).
  • via Poro - at the Danao Port, take the Super Shuttle Ferry for Poro (Camotes), P?/pax, 3 hours, daily trip - 9:00am and 5:00pm (0936.823.8762 |0956.270.6610 | 0999.889.9999).

Camotes Island to Danao

  • via Consuelo - go to Consuelo (San Francisco) and take the Jomalia Shipping boat to Danao, P220/pax, a/c, 2 hours, daily trip - 5:30am, 7:00am (special trip), 8:30am, 12:00 noon (express), 2:30pm, 5:30pm and 9:00pm (express, Fri/Sat/Sun only).
  • via Poro - take the Super Shuttle Ferry in Poro (Camotes) for the Danao Port, P?/pax, 3 hours, daily trip - 5:00am and 1:00pm (0936.823.8762 |0956.270.6610 | 0999.889.9999).
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Camotes Islands Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Daghang Salamat (Many Thanks) Camotes Islands, Goodbye Apr 6, 2017
  2. A Culture of Noise Apr 5, 2017
  3. Exploring Tulang Diot (Little Island) Apr 2, 2017
  4. In Search of the Hidden Beach Apr 1, 2017
  5. Pizza-Making Party in Camotes Islands Mar 25, 2017
  6. Zesto and Exploited Child Labor Mar 20, 2017
  7. The Bayot (Gay) Construction Worker Mar 20, 2017
  8. Yoga Calisthenics in Camotes Islands Mar 3, 2017
  9. Bathing with the Carabaos at Hagnaon Spring, Camotes Islands Feb 28, 2017
  10. Taking a Dip at Capasanan Spring, Camotes Islands Feb 28, 2017
  11. Exploring Bukilat Cave, Camotes Islands Feb 28, 2017
  12. Exploring Tudela and Busay Falls, Camotes Islands Feb 21, 2017
  13. Settling Down in Camotes Islands Feb 19, 2017
  14. Clam Chowder Pizza from Scratch on a Rice Cooker Feb 15, 2017
  15. Exploring Timubo Cave of Camotes Islands Feb 9, 2017
  16. Exploring Holy Crystal Cave of Camotes Islands Feb 9, 2017
  17. Exploring Camotes Islands of Cebu Jan 13-14, 2017

Slice of Life Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Judging a Student Debate at the University of Bohol Sept 15, 2017
  2. Bitcoin Transaction at 7 Sins Bar, Moalboal July 12, 2017
  3. Ambushed by SM Seaside June 1, 2017
  4. A Culture of Noise Apr 5, 2017
  5. Zesto and Exploited Child Labor Mar 20, 2017
  6. Downpour in Davao Sep 18, 2016
  7. A Gifted Dell Laptop from the Usual Suspect Aug. 24, 2016
  8. Getting my Xiaomi Redmi Note3 Smart Phone Aug. 9, 2016
  9. Lalique and the Lily's Peanut Butter Glass Jar Sep 12, 2015
  10. The Laundromat and the Missing Socks Sep 11, 2015
  11. Re-purposing a Broken Umbrella Aug 27, 2015
  12. Back Into the Black Sep 1, 2013
  13. Singapore Girl July 21, 2013
  14. The Barf Feb 19, 2012
  15. Tough Guy Feb 15, 2012
  16. Into The Black Jan 31, 2012
  17. In Pursuit of a Hit-and-Run Driver Apr 25, 2011

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