Saturday, September 14, 2013


Yesterday I took Emmerson on one of the high school community service projects. It is a community center located in one of the poorer neighborhoods in Manila. The community is built in and around a cemetery where many people live and tend to the graves. The other occupation was recycling products from a large dump in the community. The dump has recently been removed under suspicious circumstances. Supposedly someone was going to make a documentary of the community so the govt swept in, removed the dump and walled in part of the community from prying eyes. So if you are ever going to make a documentary, considered the repercussions. Now the people are scrambling even more to figure out how to make a living. The community center offers Social, Physical,  Cultural (SPEC's) options for the kids in the community. A new squatter community has also emerged on land set aside for cemetery expansion - so when the govt decides to expand the cemetery - they will need to move. And so on, and so on. The ISM kids go to the area once a month or so playing games, sports, songs, etc and then prepare a meal for them. Then in December they will spend a week with the community which involves bringing the community kids up to ISM for some events.

Emmerson outside the cemetery.

Squatters on the cemetery land.

Above ground graves - typical in areas where the ground is often saturated - like in New Orleans.

Not sure why I took this so many of these .... 

Some kids who live in the cemetery and are part of the SPEC's crew.

Gaggle of girls.

One of the ladies painting a figurine on one of the graves.

Corridor of graves.

Community kids.

Ayra, ISM SPECS club leader with Emmerson and Sophi.

River the flows through the community.


Squatter settlement under the bridge - obvioulsy not a good situation in frequently flooded Manila. The solution that is often implemented is to move them to areas outside of Manila with more land and such - but few take the govt. up on this opportunity as this area is their home - where they know people and the lay of the land - power of a place. 

One of the homes under the bridge.

... and across the river.

This was the dump. Now it is simply space ... where they keep their roosters. 

Community farm? They are not farmers - they are really good at recycling trash - not farming - none have ever grown a thing in their life. Community farms take a lot of hands on knowledge .... and money. But I'll present the option to the SPECS board. And the land is the govt.'s, which adds another bureaucratic layer.

ISM kids playing hoops at the neighborhood court - the hoop itself was quite nice and it was actually a court - a hoop on either end. But the court was also used as a parking lot so kids typically pic a hoop, practice shots, and play one hoop type of games. The rainy season also limits court efficiency - lots of puddles.

Shooting hoops.


They still manage to do some recycling - outsourced to their community. this alley had stacks of plastic bottles ready to be  .... whatever they do with plastic bottles.

Plastic bottle alley.

Wow is it ever raining our right now (real time right now 3:21 pm Sunday, 9/15). Emmerson sure is a wonderful little girl. She is a bit shy but once she gets interested in what is going on - all her reservations go out the window - so she had fun coloring, making paper airplanes, learning new "handjive" routines (not sure what they call it), singing along to the Bieber .... 

ISM girls getting ready to lead the crew in some pre-lunch pop songs. I came in earlier to see the whole room in a mad mash-up to Gangnam style.

SPEC's tries to get the kids nourished, a challenge to say the least in these communities where cheap carb and fat laden foods are the primary option. The ISM crew brings in a load of rice and fruit and such and the staff prep a midday meal for the kids. 

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