This is the first squatter village I visited and it was a test of the senses. It was hot, smelled bad and looked like a war zone. Squatters are constantly being moved about by the government and here you can see that their homes have actually be knocked down.
The boy in the oversized yellow shirt caught my attention. He totally fit the environment around him. He was filthy and his hair was matted. Amidst the rubble he was hungrily scrapping what he could from the cup. If it looks like war zone it’s because the City is in the midst of relocating the village. Squatters settle into any open space that they can. Over time these spaces become more and more valuable and the City and/or the rightful owner wants them out. The City does actually try to find a new location but it is usually farther away in the quieter areas. The usual pattern is that the squatters resist and the City comes back and basically has to tear down their homes in order for them to leave. This squatter village had just been hit with the bulldozer. A day or two later, the whole place was probably flattened.
These kids were having fun cooling off with a hose and buckets of water. It’s about 32C in the shade. They noticed me taking pix but didn’t react at all.
This is one of my all time favourite images. Sixty seconds before this shot was taken these boys were running after each other, smiling and laughing all the way. They were having fun. I asked my friend Romel (who speaks Tagalog) to gather them up and pose for a picture. A few had to be prodded by parents/family members but they eventually stopped playing and gave me a great smile and pose.
The boy in the middle is holding his thumb and forefinger to his face. When I first noticed this while reviewing my pictures I thought it was a gang sign or something! I asked around and found out that it actually means, “I am beautiful!”
I was able to capture 8-10 frames and then they were off again running after each other and playing games. I love this image because through the dirty clothes, dirty bodies and bad teeth, you can see happiness on their faces. The before and after activity was playing games with each other and having a good time. These kids do not have any real material goods but they have what matters most… each other.