The Philippine Chronicles, 5
Today, (actually yesterday for me but still today for you, if that makes any sense) was jam packed. We're leaving Manila today so we had to pack up all our stuff again and get it on the bus before we could leave. Then we headed off to another project. With it being Saturday we got yet another persepective on the Compassion projects here because this is the day that the children actually attend the project regularly. When we arrived at the church we were greeted by a line of the children in traditional Filipino dress greeting us. Then everyone went inside for a program while Taylor, Eric and I set up for shooting.
By the way, our Compassion rep here is named Pattie (I'll try to get a picture of her on here later), and she is awesome. She's a former Compassion child herself and graduate of the LDP program. We often throw around various versions of the phrase "making it happen," but Pattie brings new meaning to those words. Anything we're doing would not be possible without her.
At the project today our group was joined by the Continentals. If you don't know what the Continentals are, they're a kinda show-choir group of teens and young-twenties that travels around performing. It's a Christian thing. They're not my style by any means, but evidently they get a lot of children sponsored, so kudos to them. They performed a couple of songs for the kids, which I'm sure was good for them, but we could have done without.
After the program, we had the LDP's join one of the classes so that we could capture some footage of them really interacting with some of the children. This was one of the most impressive things I was able to see. It was a class of really young kids (maybe 4 or 5 years old), and all they were doing was making fish out of construction paper. But they loved it, and their teacher, Glenda, was incredible.
We shot with them for awhile and then brought out all of the younger children of the project to shoot some group stuff. There were a lot of them. We had them wave at the camera and say some things as a group, and they were awesome. They really listened and nailed it, and I think they had a great time doing it. Afterwords, I walked up into the group of them and was thanking them and giving them all high fives. Then they started laughing and pointing at me and calling me Santa Clause. I've got to lose weight.
Once we were finished at the project we boarded the bus to do some home visits. I had heard about where we were going, which was a cemetery where people lived (yes, you read that correctly), but I was not prepared by any means. I'm going to do my best to describe this, but I'm positive words can't do it justice. We have some photos and footage, so you'll just have to look for that later, but without the sounds and smells, I don't think it's possible to even then get a handle on it.
This is a cemetery full of crypts and monuments, not a graveyard. Graves are stacked on top of each other and in varying conditions. Then there are "homes" and stores actually built on top of the graves. These people literally live in the cemetery. From what I understand the government actually cracked down on it a few years ago. So there used to be more. But not they've all retreated behind the tombs.
You see, the cemetery is surrounded by high walls with tombs built into them, just one on top of the other. Behind these walls there exists a whole neighborhood of dwellings. It's dark. It's cramped. It's wet. It's dirty. It's small. It's horrifying. It's heart-wrenching.
So that we wouldn't be rude yet give Taylor time to shoot, Ben and I went to visit a home. Instead we visited like six. I'm still trying to process what we saw.
One home was literally the size of my master bathroom at home. I'm not exagerating. There was a tiny bit of floor space. And then two bunks stacked on top of each other. This was for a family of four. The mother has lived there 27 years, her whole life. She was born there and is still there. However, it was amazing to listen to the hope she has for her little boy, Michael, who is in the Compassion project. Because of Compassion he won't be living in that shack in twenty years.
Here's a video of the place.
I've got to go. I'll finish later. Sorry...
Off to church.
Okay... I'm back.
Church was cool by the way. Read the above post.
Back to what I was saying about the homes of the tomb dwellers... Another house we visited was a kind of tree house. Actually, that's not true. It was a tree house. It was built above a creek, about 8' high. I've tried to put a little video of it below. When we asked the mother there what we could pray for her about, she asked for health because she had fallen through the grate that connects her tree house to the rest of the land a few months ago and hurt her head. She also told us that when it rains the water reaches the house and when it storms they evacuate because the tree moves too much.
Then this afternoon we flew out to another island.
It's so much to process, and it's a ridiculously insurmountable obstacle to try to figure out how to communicate the impact of it to you guys and anyone else. But I'm trying.