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    week in photos: manila

    By John Tubles
    Nov 17, '10 10:35 PM EST

    Manila, capital city of the Philippines, is one of the most populated cities in the world. It is gritty, loud and chaotic at times. I came back to my birthplace for the second time within 3 months after 8 years of absence when my family immigrated to the U.S. It was weird coming back to a place that should feel very familiar but it didn’t. Like what I said in my previous post I came back to Manila to assist my Japanese friend with his research work regarding low-cost housing and do my own personal research regarding my site for my thesis which is now shaping up to be a social/urban/ typology experiment about combining Living and Dead Cities. So I will be sharing my last week in pictures:

    For the low-cost housing research we came back again to the same site with a more narrowed down focus on the living conditions rather than the technical data.

    Site: SHEC Phase II Housing, Pasay City

    this basketball court + the new sports committee are acting like new glue that bonds this housing community together.

    this is what a basic unit looks like when it is handed to a beneficiary.

    these are some examples of the modifications that the residents did to their unit...
    ...some are more elaborate than others obviously... but one thing is constant they like colors and patterns!

    I enjoyed interviewing many residents and sharing different stories with them.

    We visited the slums where they use to live...

    ...which is just behind the CMU Block.

    we played with kids!

    and hosted a workshop with the SHEC Youth Committee.

    For my thesis , I went to 3 cemeteries and interviewed officers that manage the place as well as the residents that illegally live inside the gate.

    Site: Pasay Public Cemetery, Manila North Cemetery and Navotas Public Cemetery

    slums that is slowly infiltrating the cemetery.

    settlements inside a gated apartment style housing

    really really colorful graves.

    pabili! ... a store inside a cemetery

    clothes line...

    pedicab... public transportaion within the cemetery.

    6-crypt-high stack

    entrance to the slums.

    settlement on top of the crypt stack..

    hanging out on top of the crypt...


    • that is amazing!

      john, do the families of the deceased not say something against this usage? it is hard to tell but looks like the graves are being used as walls of the homes, which seems unlikely to me. ?

      when you talked about the thesis project earlier i did not imagine such fascinating research. how could you do anything but amazing work with this as starting point?

      i am quite curious if this is a one off? or is it a typology repeated all over the Philippines or other parts of the world?

      definitely looking forward to reading where you take it all...

      Nov 18, 10 12:49 am
      Lian Chikako Chang

      Thanks for posting these. The settlements on top of the crypts are really sad, incredible, mundane all at the same time. And what's up with that cage-looking thing with the gable roof?

      Nov 18, 10 6:12 pm
      John Tubles


      the status here is that the families of the deceased that are burried in the mausoleums know and is not against the usage... the squatter actually works for the family by keeping the mausoleum clean weekly and freshly painted in preparation for "undas" filipino version of obon or dia de los muertos... then during this season the squatter usally leaves the mausoleum or if not just put the rest of their stuff and hide it in the corner... there is also an old wive's tale/belief that the spirits are bettter with some living so thats why they practically employ these people for about 900 php per year and free rent.

      as for the ones on the stacked crypts those are totally illegal and they do use the crypts as walls and they do this because it takes them less time and material to make 1 less wall.. they also sometimes use the other open crpyts as storage space and/or living space.

      this type cemetery exist in various places in metro manila and i suppose the bigger cities in the philippines becasue the according to the land usage act in metro manila only less than 1% of the city's land are used as public cemeteries... but with the increase of population/death toll these public cemeteries are at capacity and have been for years... so they developed these "apartment" style burial that are rented out in 5 year terms...


      youre welcome... these settlements and the site itself is pretty intimidating especially when i saw these things first hand... growing up in a third world country i have seen poverty in many shapes but this is the first time that it really overwhelmed me... these people are the poorest of the poors and some were even born there they are expecting to die there too... but as sad as it may seem, i am surprised that some of these people can still put a genuine smile and were so accomodating... it really makes you think and appreciate what you have....

      Nov 19, 10 1:05 am
      John Tubles

      ..oh and the black cage like structure is a type of mausoleum... they put this barricade to prevent people disrespecting the graves especially because that one is located in the main street that bisects the cemetery...

      Nov 19, 10 1:09 am

      there are cemeteries in Cairo that house squatters...I became aware of the Egyptian example while doing early research for my own thesis. John, thanks for sharing...I'm looking forward to seeing more of your research and of course your proposal.

      Nov 19, 10 11:27 am

      John, I really like the social geographical and political context of your research including the visual surveys, interviews, and where you are taking this thesis (I mean, specific location in Philippines with global problems and realities). This as an excellent build up process. I am really interested to follow up. Along with the spirituality aspect, death has a very obvious physicality about it. So, I see that you are very colorfully (no pun!) constructing your project.

      Nov 21, 10 9:36 pm

      hi john... interesting i stumbled upon your blog. I'm doing the same research too with regards to cemeteries in manila and social housing. need to find out about the social housing project you were involved in Pasay.
      How do I contact you, if you don't mind.
      Im Singaporean from National University doing a thesis too.
      Glad if we can share...
      do contact me via my email
      grab me on facebook too. cya!

      Jan 8, 11 1:59 am

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