Friday, May 26, 2006
The past few days, we have been meeting the various groups we will be involved with during our stay here - ISACC (Institute of Studies in Asian Church & Culture), CCT (Center for Community Transformation) and GK (Gawad Kalinga). All of these have have for a long time been doing work in Philippine slums, be it simple renovation or providing families with the financial packages needed to construct and own a proper home. after from getting to know the very kind and genuine people working at these organizations, we went on to visit the sites where they do their work.
From the basic first impression, I can tell you that a slum isn't quite what you would imagine. In more developed countries we are often fed images of despair, poverty, misery plaguing the lives of the people living in such places. That is undoubtedly true in many places. But from what we saw in Malaybay (pronounced mah-LEE-bye), it is not as simple as that, in reality. There is also a inescapable vitality to the place. Children run through the streets, laughing, playing with impromptu toys. Almost every single person will greet you with a genuine smile (and maybe a comical pose for the camera) as you walk by. I was so taken by this aspect that most of my camera footage went to the people, rather than the particular houses we were there to study.
Malaybay waterfront. Large portions of the community were in fact on stilts, which was not apparent when walking on the streets above.
Which one is the real Manila, the modern skyscrapers in the distance, or a slum such as Malaybay in the foreground? Poor areas seem to be growing in every empty lot. There is no major distinctions between areas. The affluent live next door to the poor.
The Malaybay chapter of the 'Big Brothers' club..
Children everywhere we went.
It is commendable to help others but the real help comes when we "help others to help themselves"
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