When Typhoon Ketsana triggered the worst floods in 40 years in Manila and surrounding areas in September, among those who suffered most were the children living in the slums near Laguna Lake.

"The water was higher than a person's height. They say it will take three to four months for the water to clear out completely," said Masako Sumiya, representative of PAG-ASA Group Japan. The charity, which supports the schooling of slum children, is one of the groups that received money from The Japan Times Readers' Fund this year.

"Some areas still have knee-high water levels, and some children still can't return to school," she added.