Rugby Boy

Rugby or, more accurately, contact cement has become the generic term for the strong industrial adhesive used in products like shoes and bags. It’s cheap and accessible. Every corner hardware carries it as well as the occasional 7-11. And because it’s cheap and accessible, some street kids use the stuff to get high. They place the glue at the bottom of plastic bag and inhale the trapped fumes inside.

I suddenly thought about it this morning and I made a sketch about what it must be like to sniff glue from a plastic bag.

Rugby boys, unfortunately seem to be everywhere in Metro Manila. When I was younger, I used to think that glue sniffing street kids huddled under the shadow of concrete posts to hide their habits. That isn’t the case apparently. Some kids do their sessions in broad daylight, in corner streets or under shop awnings and in plain view of people and passing cars.

I remember talking about street kids to my French-Belgian friend Amelie Clement and we discussed how poverty has become so much a part of the Philippine landscape that we have become somewhat immune to homeless kids walking the streets and begging for money. For a European like her, seeing such a thing would have been shocking.

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