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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

The Hidden Cost of Cruising

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | February 8th, 2008 | Comments 4 Comments »

My second day in Manila, I tour squalid sections of a flimsy warren that could be called “rooms” only by the very generous.pict0185_9.JPG Ducking in from the sidewalk, into a gloomy passageway barely big enough for my medium five-foot-six frame, I stumble over a broken board bridging a stream of wash water flowing from a young girl’s public shower into the street.

The girl grins, startled, unaware of how to act in front of a stranger, in spite of the fact that a group of mah-jong playing neighbors sit within sight of her soapy, T-shirt-clad body. pict0136_6.JPGPrivacy is so non-existent, she allows me to take her photo, and laughs when I show her her image in the digital camera.

This shantytown pict0170_9.JPGadjacent to Manila’s North Harbor houses thousands of families of working seafarers and dockworkers living in the slummiest conditions I’ve ever seen. pict0155_9.JPG Multi-generational families of a dozen people live in rooms smaller than most Americans’ bathrooms, their “kitchens” a board with a hotplate and washbasin, their “bathroom” a blanketed-off corner with a bucket. pict0157_9.JPG People sleep in lofts above the claustrophobic rooms. Windows are absent luxuries. The smell of humanity is embedded in the splintering wood. pict0162_9.JPG

Belongings spill into the communal walkway, slowing my passage and forcing me to meet these proud people’s smiles. pict0160_9.JPG I try to hide my revulsion and pity behind my camera lens, shaking hands with the little children and waving at the women who surely know, must know, there’s a better life.

Dockworkers on split 12-hour shifts and seafarers on yearly contracts ease the overcrowding. pict0189_9.JPG

But not the poverty.

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4 Responses to “The Hidden Cost of Cruising”

  1. Beth Gelsomino Says:


  2. Rey Lopez Says:


    That is good, specially the pictures and the human element in rthe story of Nilo. Whenever you will mention my name, please include that I am the personmIn Mission on maritime ministry, United Methodist Church, Manila Episcopal area.

    As an archipalegic country. 98 percent of what we use and eat and eat every day are being transported and unloaded by thoseFilipino dockworkers and seafarers with miserable pay and working situation.

    Most of dockworkers and seafarers are formerts peasansts whose lands taken away from them either by landgarbbers or victims of the ongoing milkiytarization in the countryside. Thus they have no choice but to go to Manila to look fdor work and ended either as seafarers,dockworkers living in thos squater areas.

    Take care,

    Rey Lopez


  3. John Reinke Says:

    Your story and photos give us a very clear picture of the poverty and struggle for a decent living among the hard working poor of Manila. Keep up the good work! My thanks also to Pastor Rey Lopez for the excellent work he is doing.

  4. Neil Sison Says:

    Wow, you really did a great job in describing vividly the distressful condition of those port shanties residents. Thats how awful a typical household is specially when the breadwinner doesn’t have a substantial pay or a permanent job at alll! Worse, when you happen to visit squatters area where, most residents are jobless and situations seem helpless..yet, you’ll be amazed people can still manage to smile.whew!

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