Slum life in Manila

The last couple of days in the Philippines was spent in the capital city of Manila.  As a city it’s not unlike most other capitals around the world, lots of high-rise buildings, crazy traffic and huge shopping malls.  On the final day I decided to go and visit the slum areas I’d seen whilst driving through the place the previous afternoon.  Here are a selection of photos taken of some of the squatters areas located close to the rivers.

Photographically, I found it quite difficult to adopt my usual practice of omitting anything from the frame which I didn’t feel needed to be there.  Whenever I lifted my camera and looked through the viewfinder the whole scene was totally cluttered and I rarely knew what to focus on.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that this was exactly how this place felt to me, so I allowed myself to accept the messiness of the shots.  I’ve also desaturated many of the images which helps recreate the grittiness of the place.

Interestingly, I asked Mbong our driver in Manila what the suicide rate was in the Philippines, as I struggled to comprehend how people could cope with so much poverty.  He seemed astonished that I’d asked such a question and replied that there were two main reasons that the suicide rate in the Philippines is so low.  One is that most Filipinos believe that tomorrow may just be their lucky day and that their hardships could easily disappear.  The other reason is that they’d have to ask “who will look after my family if I’m gone?”.  I found this quite remarkable and sobering.

Most of these living areas were totally submerged under water during the recent flooding which hit Manila.

The family who lived in this buidling had to punch a hole through their wall to allow the flood waters to escape.

Amazingly, there were plenty of smiling faces even in the midst of incredible poverty.

This house was no more than one meter wide, I still struggle to comprehend how anyone can live in such a confined space.

The local bar.

A typical squatters home.

The local police car had also taken a battering.

Many people live underneath the river bridges. This family also lost virtually everything in the recent floods.

No Nintendo DS or PSP, but a simple card game.

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One comment

  • Lauren Hall 6th May 2010  

    Dear Wayne, you are so gifted and I am following your photography – your unique and vivid view of our global communities and neighbors. I am so blessed to know you through our shared visit in the Philippines. WOnderful interview you gave to the BBC. Think of you often and wishing you safe travels always.

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