This is my first blog and may be my last as I am not sure whether I’ll enjoy this process, or whether anyone will want to read it, but you have to start somewhere and I really care about this story so here it goes.
Last June, I was in the Philippines on a photography tour. Manila, the Philippines’ capital, is a very vibrant but overpopulated city. It was ranked the most densely populated city by Forbes magazine (2010). As a result, some Pinos, as the locals call themselves, have to be creative in finding affordable places to live. To be at a convenient distance to their workplace, they have built communities around railroad tracks, underpasses and yes, cemeteries. We had the opportunity to visit some of these “neighborhoods”. As you will see, the living conditions are challenging but the people are cheerful, warm and welcoming. We went back to visit with the people living there several times and were always welcomed with smiles and questions. They were happy to share their stories. An older lady, Virginia, revealed to us that she had been living near the railroad tracks under the bridge since 1972. Below are some of the photos I have taken during these visits including two of Virginia.
Three weeks ago, as I am sure you’ve heard, Manila experienced serious flooding in the midst of their monsoon season. I contacted a (very nice and very talented) local photographer we had spent time with, Red Santos, to try to find out what had happened to the people we visited and what I could do to help. Not surprisingly, most of these neighborhoods were completely flooded, so people had to be evacuated and everything they own was lost. To help, Red suggested making a donation to the Kapuso Foundation (www.kapusofoundation.com). This foundation is a trusted non-government organization that provides relief and life rehabilitation assistance to victims of the monsoon rains. If you can, please join me in helping these people get their lives back.