Tag Archives: Manila

Underground Cock Fighting in Manila Revisited

Last month my editor at Getty Images gave me the rare opportunity to revisit some of my old stories from the Philippines: Small scale gold mining in southern Leyte, and the underground cock fighting scene in Manila.

I was first introduced to the world of cock fighting when I decided to move out of my guest house in Manila and onto a fighting cock training farm in the working class neighbourhood of San Andres Bukid. In metro Manila, where space is in short supply, the “farm” was really just an empty lot between two houses. But shaded by tall bamboo thickets and closed off from the hustle of the streets by a tall iron gate – ominously topped in concertina wire – the training centre proved to be one of the most relaxing places I’ve yet to find in a city of nearly 12 million.

Floren Castillio, whose house in little more than a tarped bed he shares with his wife and granddaughter, is the farm’s caretaker and a well respected “gaffer” – a combination of fighting cock trainer and amateur veterinarian. Two years ago, when I first met Floren, he unhesitatingly agreed to allow me to set up a tent on his property within the first hour of meeting him. During the month or so I stayed there, he greeted me each morning with a cup of coffee and recoiled whenever I tried to pay him rent. Even though I hadn’t had any contact with the man since 2012, when I showed up again out of the blue he immediately went to his small storage closet, pulled out my old tent, and asked me how long I wanted to stay.

Though a tight work schedule limited my time in Manila and I couldn’t spend as much time with Floren as I would have liked, he was instrumental in getting me access to the underground cock fighting scene once again. Animal ethics aside, cock fighting is one of the most popular national sports in the Philippines, and it takes place nearly every day in the country, from Manila’s backstreets to massive government sanctioned arenas.

This story was shot over a day and a half in the neighbourhoods of San Andres Bukid and Raymundo. All images are the exclusive property of Getty Images.

Floren Castillio, a respected gaffer, pulls a young fighting cock towards him before giving it minor surgery.

Floren Castillio, a respected gaffer, pulls a young fighting cock towards him before giving it minor surgery. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Floren Castillio uses a metal pin to clear an area for a feather transplant. When fighting cocks suffer damaged feathers, they are replaced - sometimes with heavier turkey feathers - to give the birds increased balance and stability.

Floren Castillio uses a metal pin to clear an area for a feather transplant. When fighting cocks suffer damaged feathers, they are replaced – sometimes with heavier turkey feathers – to give the birds increased balance and stability. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Floren's bloody body after a morning of giving surgery.

Floren’s bloody body after a morning of giving surgery. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Young men inspect the cocks on Floren's property, looking for a potential bird to buy.

Young men inspect the cocks on Floren’s property, looking for a potential bird to buy. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

A group gathers on Floren's farm to test the aggression of fighting cocks in advance of a large fight. This pre-fight test will influence what birds are bet on the following morning.

A group gathers on Floren’s farm to test the aggression of fighting cocks in advance of a large fight. This pre-fight test will influence what birds are bet on the following morning. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

A non-lethal test fight to test the aggressiveness and stamina of the birds.

A non-lethal test fight to test the aggressiveness and stamina of the birds. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

The morning of a fight, men gather in the working class neighbourhood of Raymundo to place bets.

The morning of a fight, men gather in the working class neighbourhood of Raymundo to place bets. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

An old man contemplates which bird to bet on before a fight. People have been known to wager a month's pay on a single fight.

An old man contemplates which bird to bet on before a fight. People have been known to wager a month’s pay on a single fight. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Crowds gather to watch one of many fights for the day.

Crowds gather to watch one of many fights for the day. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Multiple gaffers, or fighting cock doctors, are on hand to treat injured birds after each fight.

Multiple gaffers, or fighting cock doctors, are on hand to treat injured birds after each fight. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

The bloody hands of a gaffer at the end of the day's fighting. Gaffers act as amateur veterinarians, and can treat almost any wound a fighting cock might suffer.

The bloody hands of a gaffer at the end of the day’s fighting. Gaffers act as amateur veterinarians, and can treat almost any wound a fighting cock might suffer. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

A man watches money being exchanged after losing a bet.

A man watches money being exchanged after losing a bet. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Feathers are swept out of the fighting pit at the end of  each fight.

Feathers are swept out of the fighting pit at the end of each fight. ©Luc Forsyth/Getty Images

Versions of this story appeared in The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! News.  These photos are the exclusive property of Getty Images and may not be used without consent – all images are available for purchase here.

 

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Growing Up Manila: Portraits of Youth

A glimpse into the experience of growing up in one of the world’s largest cities. As with most places, the quality of childhood varies greatly in this city of 12 million. Many live happy lives, while some are burdened by poverty, and some are left to fend for themselves on the streets. But these children have one thing in common – Manila.

Sand Andres, Manila.

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Girls look out from their window in San Anres.

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Children play in a community park in San Andres.

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Born to Kill: Underground Cock Fighting in Manila

Cock Fighting is one of the most popular sports in the Philippines and is broadcast on national television, with some fights filling sports stadiums to capacity. But far from the cameras and regulations of the prime time events, underground fights occur daily in Manila’s working class neighbourhoods.

The fights are short and brutal, with the cocks fighting until either exhaustion or death. Though amateur veterinarians – referred to locally as gaffers – are on hand to treat injuries, the long curved knives attached to the bird’s feet often result in the death of the losing bird.

The fighting cocks live relatively pleasant lives when compared to the battery chickens which feed the world’s appetite for poultry, with owners caring for their birds with an affection bordering on love. Yet the animals live as gladiators, with their only purpose being to fight and possibly die for the enrichment and bragging rights of its owner.

This story was shot in Manila’s working class neighbourhoods of San Andres Bukid and Raymundo.

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Floren Castillio, a locally renowned cock fighting gaffer – a mix of trainer and amateur veterinarian – pulls a bird towards himself in order to perform surgery on it.

 

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A group of young men inspect the fighting cocks in Floren’s farm, looking for the right bird to buy or bet on.

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Floren removes a fighting cock’s wattle with a pair of scissors. The wattles and crowns are removed so that they cannot be cut during a fight and cause debilitating bleeding.

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The bloody body of Floren Castillio after a morning of surgery.

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Floren prepares to replace a broken feather of a wounded fighting cock. Each feather is important to the bird’s balance, and so damaged feathers must be replaced.

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A crowd gathers to watch as two fighting cocks are tested for aggressiveness before a fight. The results of this comparison will be used to determine which birds to place bets on.

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A practice match between two fighting cocks in which observers will decide which birds to bet on.

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A large crowd gathers on a public holiday to watch a morning of fights.

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A fight organizer calls on spectators to place their bets before a fight begins.

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An elderly man prepares to place a bet before the start of a fight. It is not uncommon for a month’s wages to be won or lost on a single match.

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Long curved knives are attached to the feet of the fighting cocks before a fight. The blades are sharp enough to shave with and have been known to cause human fatalities on rare occasions.

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Crowds watch a fight in the working class neighbourhood of Raymundo.

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Multiple gaffers are on hand to treat injured fighting cocks during a morning of underground fights in Raymundo.

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Bloody gauze is dropped on the ground as gaffers tend to wounded fighting cocks. The gaffers carry comprehensive medical kits and can treat nearly any non-fatal injury a bird might sustain during a fight.

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The bloody hands of a gaffer after a morning of treating injured fighting cocks.

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A man watches as money is exchanged after losing a bet.

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Feathers and blood are swept from the floor of the outdoor fighting pit in Raymundo.

 

 

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Born to Kill: Underground Cock Fighting in Manila

A huge fighting cock in San Andres Bukit. Promising birds are fed well and grow to large sizes.

A huge fighting cock in San Andres Bukit. Promising birds are fed well and grow to large sizes.

In September 2012 I arrived in Manila with no idea of what I was doing there and no story ideas whatsoever. But through a series of random meetings and strange luck I was invited to pitch a tent in an empty patch of land in the working class neighbourhood of San Andres. Though living in a tent in the middle of metro Manila was strange enough, the piece of land I was living on also happened to be the site of an underground cock-fighting farm and training ground. I wrote a short article at the time talking a little about what it was like to live on the farm, but I neglected to post many photos for some reason or another. After digging around in my archives I realized that I had quite a few decent images and thought I’d post a more comprehensive visual story about these illegal death matches happening in the street outside my front door, so to speak.

From the cradle to the grave, these animals are raised only to fight, and most likely die. Large amounts of money can be won on these fights, so a champion bird will most probably fight again and again until he is no longer able to win. Since the blades used are 10cm long and razor sharp, not winning is probably synonymous with death – though there is a potential for the lucky to receive only a blinding or severe maiming.

The fights are illegal. Cock Fighting is one of the most popular sports in the Philippines and is even broadcast on TV, but those fights are regulated and licensed. The fights on the streets of San Andres were underground and subject to police raids. On more than one occasion the local police rushed into the area on motorcycles after a fight was over and admonished the watchers. Typically the losing bird (most likely dead), was given to the officers in payment, presumably to be grilled and eaten down the street at the local police station. Illegal or not, the fights are going to happen, and the police accept this as long as they get something out of it.

What I found particularly confusing about the whole spectacle is the bipolar nature of the affection for the birds. When alive, the proud owners would hold them up and stroke them lovingly. They display them and compare them to their friends birds. A champion is treated like a beloved pet. They obviously care about them greatly, yet the moment the cock loses a fight it is tossed into the gutter like a piece of trash. When I asked one of my local friends, an owner himself, how they can have such a dismissive attitude towards an animal they had spent so much time with, he replied simply “fighting cocks are for fighting.”

I should maybe mention that this story is perhaps not as comprehensive and exposing as I would have liked it to be because after a few days of shooting I realized that I was making enemies. Apparently many of the bird owners believed that it was bad luck to have their fighters photographed and legitimately blamed me for their loss. So out of a mixture of respect for their beliefs and fear of their anger, I stopped taking pictures of the fights themselves.

Note: Some of these images are bloody. This is not a case study in animal rights or ethics. I have my own opinions on cock-fighting and this story is neither condemning nor supporting the practice.

Chicks are raised in a small cage before they are mixed with the larger fighting cocks. These chicks will likely not leave the small plot of land in San Andres until it is time to fight, perhaps 1-2 years later.

Chicks are raised in a small cage before they are mixed with the larger fighting cocks. These chicks will likely not leave the small plot of land in San Andres until it is time to fight, perhaps 1-2 years later.

The fighting cocks are fed a high-energy mixture of corn and protiens to ensure they grow to a desirable size.

The fighting cocks are fed a high-energy mixture of corn and protiens to ensure they grow to a desirable size.

Floren is an underground veteranarian, known in cock fighting circles as a gaffer. He tends to injured birds when needed and allows cocks to be fed and raised on his property.

Floren is an underground veteranarian, known in cock fighting circles as a gaffer. He tends to injured birds when needed and allows cocks to be fed and raised on his property.

A cock has his crown surgically removed with scissors. The crown is susceptible to injury and can bleed into the cock's eyes during a fight, so they are removed before the birds reach fighting size.

A cock has his crown surgically removed with scissors. The crown is susceptible to injury and can bleed into the cock’s eyes during a fight, so they are removed before the birds reach fighting size.

Several tail feathers from a promising fighting cock are surgically removed and replaced with larger turkey feathers which help to improve balance and stability during a fight.

Several tail feathers from a promising fighting cock are surgically removed and replaced with larger turkey feathers which help to improve balance and stability during a fight.

A group of men look on eagerly at the appearance of a prospective challenger . There are no fixed fighting schedules and matchmakers like Jimmy (left) wander the neighbourhood arranging fights for a small comission.

A group of men look on eagerly at the appearance of a prospective challenger . There are no fixed fighting schedules and matchmakers like Jimmy (left) wander the neighbourhood arranging fights for a small comission.

Knives are passed between gaffers.

Knives are passed between gaffers so the cocks can be readied for fighting.

A 10 cm curved knife is attached to the cock's foot. The blades are sharp enough to shave with and have been responsible for human deaths in rare cases.

A 10 cm curved knife is attached to the cock’s foot. The blades are sharp enough to shave with and have been responsible for human deaths in rare cases.

An experienced gaffer checks that the blade is secure to the cock's foot before the fight begins.

An experienced gaffer checks that the blade is secure to the cock’s foot before the fight begins.

A crowd gathers to watch and to bet on the outcome of a cock fight

A crowd gathers to watch and to bet on the outcome of a cock fight

The cocks fight by jumping towards their oppoent and kicking out with long curved knives. A single direct hit is enough to kill.

The cocks fight by jumping towards their oppoent and kicking out with long curved knives. A single direct hit is enough to kill.

Blood stains a curb in San Andres Bukit.

Blood stains a curb in San Andres Bukit.

A crowd looks on as a fight ends, the loser dead.

A crowd looks on as a fight ends, the loser dead.

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A dead cock, kicked through the heart by one of the 10cm blades.

The exhausted and disoriented winner of a fight paces near the blood of his fatally wounded opponent.

An exhausted and disoriented winner of a fight paces near the blood of his fatally wounded opponent.

A cock is stitched up after sustaining a serious injury during a fight. Because of the cost involved in raising the birds, those that can be saved are given medical treatment.

A cock is stitched up after sustaining a serious injury during a fight. Because of the cost involved in raising the birds, those that can be saved are given medical treatment.

Blood drips on Floren's feet as he stiches up an injured fighting cock.

Blood drips on Floren’s feet as he stiches up an injured fighting cock.

The feet of a dead fighting cock are used as kindling for a cooking fire.

The feet of a dead fighting cock are used as kindling for a cooking fire.

An onsite incubator holds the next generation of fighting cocks.

An  incubator holds the next generation of fighting cocks.

A young fighting cock, to small yet to fight, is tethered to a fence in San Andres.

A young fighting cock, too small yet to fight.

 

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Farewell to Manila

It’s been exceptionally tough to find a decent internet connection since arriving in Burma, but now that I’ve found one I wanted to add a few final images from Manila that I especially like. A great city with a million stories to tell.

Look for new stuff from Burma to start popping up in the next few weeks.

A newly born baby with his mother in a community built under an overpass in Quiapo

The San Andres Bukit skyline. A lower class neighbourhood, San Andres is a mixture of familial compounds and squatter communities. In the background is Makati, one of Manila’s most affluent areas.

M.J., 15, is addicted to sniffing solvents. She lives under a ledge behind a commercial complex in Quaipo.

 

A man in his house in San Andres the day before he prepares to depart for Qatar for work. Many Filipinos work overseas since local wages are often not enough to support their families.

 

The hand of a young girl in San Andres.

 

A cross hangs in Quiapo. The Philippines is overwhelmingly a catholic country.

Two girls in a squatter house, San Andres.

Men passing a bottle of rum in San Andres. Excessive drinking is common in Manila’s lower class neighbourhoods, as the price of alcohol is extremely low in the Philippines.

A woman runs a small cigarette shop under an overpass in Quiapo.

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Raphael’s Story

I met Raphael through a friend, living in the market district of Divisoria, Manila. Four months ago he fell down the stairs of his squatter apartment while drunk and cracked his spine. Unable to afford medical treatment he can only lay on his back in the small bedroom while his brother helps him as best he can. He urinates into small plastic containers and is unable to stand long enough to shower or bathe. Since he can’t pay for a trip to the hospital he has no way of knowing when or if his injuries will heal.

Raphael lies in the sweltering heat of his small room, using plastic containers for urinating. He has already been laying in this position for four months and recovery seems a long way off – if ever.

Pain killers have been donated, as his family cannot afford to buy medicine. He and his brothers repaired an old radio to give him some form of entertainment.

Raphael’s brother takes care of him as best he can. Since Raphael cannot work, his family sacrifices to help him.

The house is simple and small, approximately ten square meters for three people.

Raphael does workouts using a broom handle to try and regain mobility in his legs.

Raphael is patient and hopeful, but extremely frustrated by his situation.

Raphael reads the bible daily, drawing inspiration and hope.

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Leo’s House: Escaping Poverty in the Philippines

Leo Castellero is a 49-year-old carpenter from Mindanao Island in the Philippines. When his wife left him for another man, he moved to Manila with his five children looking to start a new life.

Initially he found work on one of the cities large construction sites, but when the project ended he was unable to find a new job. Very quickly the savings he had were used up to feed his family, and within a few weeks he was broke. Several months later his criminal and medical clearance certificates expired. These have to be renewed on a yearly basis in order to be legally employed in the Philippines, and he could not afford the $30 fee.

Two years later, Leo is living in a 6 square meter shack along the train tracks near the Osmena highway in Manila. He has been unemployed since 2010 and is only able to feed his children through the charity of the community.

Made possible with the support of a few private donors, this story documents Leo’s life as he tries to break out of the poverty cycle – a hopeless feat for someone without financial backing.

Leo Castallero, 49, is a carpenter who lost his job and his wife in 2010. He moved to Manila with his five children in the same year.

Leo Castallero, 49, is a carpenter who lost his job and his wife in 2010. He moved to Manila with his five children in the same year.

Leo’s house in perched on the side of a government tenement block in San Andres, Manila. Directly underneath is the power station for the building; when it rains, Leo and his children cannot touch the walls of their house or they receive a strong electric shock.

Leo’s house in perched on the side of a government tenement block in San Andres, Manila. Directly underneath is the power station for the building; when it rains, Leo and his children cannot touch the walls of their house or they receive a strong electric shock.

Leo sits with three of his five children in their house near the Osmena highway in Manila. The youngest child is 3 and the oldest is 17.

Leo sits with three of his five children in their house near the Osmena highway in Manila. The youngest child is 3 and the oldest is 17.

Leo holds a photograph of his commando unit in the Filipino army. His time as a soldier was the most secure point in his life, since the government had provided everything he needed to survive.

Leo holds a photograph of his commando unit in the Filipino army. His time as a soldier was the most secure point in his life, since the government had provided everything he needed to survive.

Leo’s daughter Angelica, 5, plays with some found toys in their shack above the train tracks.

Leo’s daughter Angelica, 5, plays with some found toys in their shack above the train tracks.

The toothbrushes of Leo’s children. The financial burden of supporting five underage children means that Leo’s savings were immediately spent on food when he lost his job.

The toothbrushes of Leo’s children. The financial burden of supporting five underage children means that Leo’s savings were immediately spent on food when he lost his job.

Leo’s youngest son, 3, watches as a commuter train speeds past their house. The trains pass roughly every 15 minutes.

Leo’s youngest son, 3, watches as a commuter train speeds past their house. The trains pass roughly every 15 minutes.

The secondary entrance to Leo’s house leads to a stairwell of the government housing project on the side of which he built his house. The dark space is where the building’s electrical power station is situated and the children must brush against it each time they use this entrance.

The secondary entrance to Leo’s house leads to a stairwell of the government housing project on the side of which he built his house. The dark space is where the building’s electrical power station is situated and the children must brush against it each time they use this entrance.

Leo’s house is roughly 6 square meters and sleeps six people.

Leo’s house is roughly 6 square meters and sleeps six people.

The walls and ceiling of Leo’s house are waterlogged and moldy. Though an experienced carpenter, he lacks the appropriate materials to build a proper house. When it rains the water drips from the ceiling, meaning that Leo and his children must sleep sitting up to avoid the water.

The walls and ceiling of Leo’s house are waterlogged and moldy. Though an experienced carpenter, he lacks the appropriate materials to build a proper house. When it rains the water drips from the ceiling, meaning that Leo and his children must sleep sitting up to avoid the water.

Leo’s middle son, 11, waits for a train to pass so he can re-enter the house.

Leo’s middle son, 11, waits for a train to pass so he can re-enter the house.

Leo makes figurines out of clay for his children to play with. A loving father, his first priority is to enroll his kids in school once he can find a new job.

Leo makes figurines out of clay for his children to play with. A loving father, his first priority is to enroll his kids in school once he can find a new job.

A clay figurine Leo made for one of his kids. The children name this Manny Pacquiao after the Philippines most famous boxer.

A clay figurine Leo made for one of his kids. The children name it Manny Pacquiao after the Philippines most famous boxer.

Leo is photographed in the police headquarters in Manila. With the help of some private donors, Leo is able to take steps towards getting a new job.

Leo is photographed in the police headquarters in Manila. With the help of some private donors, Leo is able to take steps towards getting a new job.

Leo fills out forms in the police headquarters in Manila. A police clearance is a necessary document for a construction job in the Philippines.

Leo fills out forms in the police headquarters in Manila. A police clearance is a necessary document for a construction job in the Philippines.

Leo is examined by a doctor in Manila Hospital. A “fit to work” certificate is required for a job on a construction site in the Philippines.

Leo is examined by a doctor in Manila Hospital. A “fit to work” certificate is required for a job on a construction site in the Philippines.

Leo is x-rayed in a private clinic in San Andres.

Leo is x-rayed in a private clinic in San Andres.

The results of Leo’s x-ray shows that he has no respiratory problems and is fit to work.

The results of Leo’s x-ray shows that he has no respiratory problems and is fit to work.

With his medical and police clearances obtained, Leo prepares to search for a new job. The certification process cost less than $30, but without the help of private donors this sum would have been impossible for Leo to accumulate.

With his medical and police clearances obtained, Leo prepares to search for a new job. The certification process cost less than $30, but without the help of private donors this sum would have been impossible for Leo to accumulate.

 

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Tattoos of San Andres

While I continue living in San Andres, Manila, I thought I’d post some of the dozens of tattoo photos I’ve collected. Tattoo culture in the Philippines is thriving, especially in the last few year. Some of these are merely decorative, while some have gang or prison connotations.

A prison tattoo, designating the name of the jail and the specific cell block.

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Up Close and Extremely Personal

A disabled woman sits in a squatter’s community in San Andres, Manila. Shot at 17mm, this image required getting very close.

Photography is only interesting if it is showing you something you can’t see on your own. What I have learned since starting photojournalism full time is that taking pictures, mechanically speaking, is not the difficult part. Entering someone’s private space and staying there is what takes it out of you. The Himalayas; an endangered tribe in Papua New Guinea; a disabled person living in poverty, sitting in an alley watching a Bingo game. We want to glimpse something rare, and it we want it to be intimate. Everyone is a voyeur. That’s why so many of your friend’s travel pictures are boring, they don’t really communicate the feeling of being there. They don’t tell a story. To get those sorts of images you have to get close. Very close.

By close I don’t only mean physical distance, though this is often important. I mean you need to be completely involved and interactive with your subject. For a landscape photographer that would mean getting up at 3am and hiking to the peak of the mountain to capture a sunrise that few have ever seen. For me, working with people, it means trying to gain acceptance from a person I have never met in a strange, and typically uncomfortable, environment.

I’m learning this as I go, and I definitely can’t claim to have mastered this craft by any stretch. But what I now realize is that most of the great pictures I have come to respect and love were the product of a lot of work. Where I once imagined that my photographic (or any other creative) idols just turned up in exotic locations with high-end equipment and waited for interesting situations to unfold around them, I now know this was utterly wrong. Opportunities have to be created, not expected.

I’ve been traveling obsessively with a camera for a large part of the last decade, but in the majority of my early stuff the images lack soul. It is only by actively creating opportunities that this becomes possible. I don’t want to say that I am now constantly producing emotional masterpieces, but my pictures are starting to come closer to replicating my experiences. And it is by far the most mentally exhausting thing I have ever done.

It is lonely. In the Philippines friendly people surround me all day, yet I am a definite outsider. I don’t speak the language, and though Filipinos are to be commended for their English abilities, there is a communication breakdown during most conversations. I have to limit myself to speaking in clear and concise sentences, and usually keep the topics to observable facts, like “it is hot today.” I also don’t really know what people think of me. Though I feel welcome, I am unsure if there is hidden resentment at my relative wealth. Or the incredible fact that the local cantinas will not allow me to pay for any of my meals, which both melts my heart and further solidifies my status as separate from the locals, who pay full price.

It is stressful. The communities that I have chosen to focus on – San Andres, Quiapo and Tondo – are not heavily touristed because of the high crime rates. Around the corner from where I am camping, a 13-year-old girl was raped a few weeks ago on the main street. At noon. The rapists sewed her lips together with chicken wire. On several occasions I have been stalked by solvent addicts or drunks, who tail me at a distance as I walk. The families who have taken to looking out for me are constantly cautioning me against walking down certain streets. Though I have had no problems to date, these warnings take a heavy psychological toll on me. Going out to shoot everyday has become a mental battle with myself as I weigh the dangers against the opportunities. Looking for interesting subjects while also watching my back is a skill that I’m learning on the fly, and it is draining.

These are the realities of this job that I was never able to fully appreciate before. As my mentor Zoriah Miller told me, “success in photojournalism is all about what you’re prepared to sacrifice” – and the price is high.

For my current project, True Manila, I am trying to give an honest account of what life is like for the average working class Filipino. Not focusing unfairly on squalor, but a balanced view of life in this city – the good and the bad, the unfortunate and the dignified. While I don’t expect the final edit to be ready until mid October, I will be posting updates as I go. Subscribe to my feed if you’d to get these sent to your email address.

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Family in San Andres

Only four years old, this boy has been left in the care of his 85-year-old grandmother.

I’ve been working on a project documenting the squatters communities around Manila, and came across this boy and his family in San Andres. This boy, four years old, and his sister, 5 years old, have been left in the care of their 85-year-old grandmother. Their father is currently in jail and in desperation the mother dropped the kids with their grandmother and returned to the provinces. No one knows where she is now.

Though a caring woman, the grandmother is getting too old to properly look after the children, often leaving them on their own for hours at a time while she wanders the neighbourhood. They rely on the charity of the San Andres community to eat, and some church groups who provide vitamins for the kids.

If anyone is interested in contributing $5 to help these kids, use the paypal “donate” button on the right-hand column of this blog page, and add the note “for San Andres family”. I will give whatever money is raised to the local community representative to organize a support program.

 

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