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Asia May 26, 2020

MANILA: One by one, Michelle Asinto's six children take the plate of rice doused in soy sauce and eat their share before passing it on.

This is what a meal can look like in the slums around the Philippine capital Manila. Under lockdown since Mar 16, many families have lost regular incomes and forced to survive on government aid that can be sporadic and often not enough.

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"Every day we just wait for our ration but it only comes once or twice a week," said Asinto, 42, whose plywood and tin house sits precariously on top of another, reachable only by ladder.

They share a common area with dozens of other people, making social distancing almost impossible. Face masks, though mandatory, are an expense few can afford.

Because her family lives illegally along the trash-filled estuary, Estero de Magdalena, it did not qualify for two cash payments of 5,000 to 8,000 pesos (US$99 to US$158) in aid the government handed out in April and May.

At Aimelyn Robeno's home, three generations are crammed into a tiny, sweltering space, including siblings and 10-month-old baby.

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"I actually think I'll get sick inside this house because of the intense heat," said Robeno, 29.

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