This is the first time visiting Manila, Philippines, on 28 Feb 2014. “It’s not safe for you foreigner to enter some place alone”, I was warned by both local friends and the policemen there, whom in my own opinion were stationed at the tourist area, use metal scanners on everyone without actually inspecting (in another word wayang, pretending). My photographic and adventurous instinct brought me to the wet market, followed by the slum. What I see later were totally different from what I was warned previously; The locals are delightful to see me and asked for their photos taken.
This is my story of a day trip to the slum.
The wet market. Everyone was smiling when they see me with the camera. A small group of old men were watching porn on their smartphone, kindly invited me for the ‘show’ as well.
Towards the edge of the slum, is where the people collect scrap metal for sale. From where I was, the kids could see the billboard advertisement as a result of consumerism. Such is the contrast of life.
“There’s their photo when they married!”
“This is my mother.”
The most adorable photo I took.
The same girl with.. I do not know if that’s her sister or her friend.
“I am a jeepney driver, but I am not working today as my jeepney is spoiled.”
“May I take a photo of you?”
“May I take a photo of you?”
“My name is Jo, nice to meet you!”
3) Living space
These kids are playing basketball in the middle of the street. They have to stop their game whenever a car or bike drives by.
A little entertainment.
Most Filipino loves singing. They have their own karaoke machine in the slum. They even have some desktop PC converted coin-in arcade machine playing pirated but high definition 3D games.
The boy and his retro-fitted motorised bicycle.
I see many of these bmx-converted rickshaws. There are also motorcycle rickshaws.
Near the port, lines of rickshaws waiting for customers.
Such house in the slum is luxurious.
I have an impression that cats are not so welcomed as compared to dogs. I seen many street cats with skin and eye infections, mostly kitten, I guess they didn’t live long. Others I found here, were caged up, with the mother cat outside.
Dog with eye infection. While many slum dwellers I see had a hard time feeding themselves, they still keep dogs.
Some dogs are better well fed despite the living condition.
There was a massive fire burnt down the houses a day before I reached and took this picture.
Both children and adults are helping to clear the ashes. The high voltage cables are melted down. The signboards across the street are melted under the intense heat as well.
6) Other ‘home’
While some people in the slum still have a house, some are lucky enough to have a hammock.
Some luckier ones built their own tents.
..or some has free shelter under the bridge..
There were some tents built beside the river, the owner invited me in, and I was shocked to see the condition inside. It stinks, there’s no place to stand, there’s garbage everywhere. Worst than garbage, they still keep dog (below). The dog poos everywhere, there’s poos at the ‘kitchen’ (above), flies, hygiene is just bad.
One man was sleeping while I entered the tent. There’s no place for me to stand, I can’t stand actually, I have to crawl. I couldn’t stand their living condition, I gave the family of 5 who’s living in this 2m*5m*1m living space some cash to buy dinner.
There dwellers make a living by collecting bottles and other stuff from trash. I didn’t intrude their space, in fact they asked me to go over to take their picture.
Before I graduated from university, I went backpacking at Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia with a group of adventurous friend (thank you HY, CHONG, Andrew, ED, SARA). My impression of Manila is, sad yet happy at the same time. I am lucky I didn’t met any unpleasant experience (okay, the train ride was quite bad), nor do I know if something had happened before therefore they have so many policemen on guard. I feel the people are genuinely contented and happy from within despite the living condition.
As a photographer, no-where-near a writer/journalist (please pardon my broken England), the best I could do is to capture and share these photographs. If you like these pictures, please share the story.