How to Help a Slum Through Photography
Born and raised in Manila till I was 15 years old. It’s a bit of a homecoming each year I come back to the Philippines on one of my photo tours. A fresh look at an old country. Where there is absolute chaos, calm can be found. It’s all about perception and attitude being here in the tropical heat.
When you land in Manila you just have to go with the flow. You can’t fight the mayhem that seems to be waiting around every corner.
Having a sense of humour will allow you to relax and embrace this beautiful country for all it’s flaws. Here is a short article on how to use your skills as a photographer to help a charity in a slum.
Slum Photo Tour
Growing up in Manila I spent most of my childhood in a gated community next to this slum area called Malibay. Driven more by ignorance and fear, I never ventured into this neighbourhood.
Now as a grown up regularly visiting the Philippines, I am curious to explore and learn what is beyond the walls separating the rich and the poor.
How to Help
It’s a very simple concept that can be done with a little planning and careful execution. Building a relationship with a local school to gain access and trust is paramount in the success of this passion project. It’s a careful balance of sending the correct message on the correct channels to spread the good word.
After an hour of being shown around the school and then making a donation to help their cause, it’s time to explore the neighbourhood. One of the school teachers becomes our local guide.
Most locals are the parents of the children that come to this free school. They welcome us with open arms and through introduction we get to hear their stories.
It’s a simple exchange of small talk, local politics and learning about their hardships. If the situation feels unobtrusive, then a quick portrait can be done. Since I am fortunate to keep coming back it is always nice to have some prints ready to give back.
Our images can then raise some awareness and perhaps also give the opportunity for other foreigners to experience and contribute. There are many fundraising events where our images can help tell their story.
The value of a printed photo is under rated with the digital age. The tangible effect of receiving an image and putting it in a frame, is something they can cherish forever and really appreciate.
Each year I come back I would like to continue giving them more and more family portraits. It’s not everyday they get to have their portrait done for free.
The sense of community is strong. The outdoor bath and kitchen are part of most slums because of a lack of space. The local government owns this land.
Despite efforts to relocate them to other more rural areas outside Manila, the lack of work has driven them back here. Dirty water and disease still plague these areas.
Despite the hardships the poor seem to be richer with humanity. The media often paints a picture of violence on the drug wars that have been happening in the Philippines for the last two years.
The locals tell me it's safer to walk the streets at night. These series of photos show the relentless spirit and warmth of a Filipino. It’s not easy living here but somehow they manage to help each other through thick or thin. Hopefully, this short article will also be shared and bring good fortune to this community and others.
My Travel Photography Kit
Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | 13 Inch MacBook Pro | Total Weight: 5 Kg.
Join me on my Philippine Photo Tour