Crowded Healing

Crowded Healing

(note: this was my first video project, shot back in 2013)

Manila is one of the most densely populated spots on earth. Shortcomings in housing and land use planning combined with a high fertility rate have left Manila in a state where the city literally appears to be bursting at the seams.

Makati City’s South Cemetery was home to dozens of families until, following a recent crime series, authorities evicted the entire living population of the cemetery. Only some of them have found shelter in nearby buildings. How do they adapt to the life “outside”, as the cemetery dwellers refer to the world beyond the graveyard’s walls? Adrian, 11, has been living in the South Cemetery for the past two years and is trying to make a living for him and his father in the streets of Makati. Without his mother and school education, Adrian needs to grow up fast.

Struck by the same fate are Julie and Primo and their three children, former cemetery-dwellers who make a modest living as parking assistants at a local churchyard. Basically living on the streets, they face a constant struggle of keeping their young family intact and healthy.

Health is a consistent problem among the urban poor in the overpopulated areas. In overpopulation hotspots such as Baseco or Tondo, the urban poor flock to faith healers to help them with their ailments and even births as they cannot afford the treatment in the metropolis’ hospitals. Taking the viewer from the business district Makati to Manila’s suburbs Tondo and Baseco, the film concludes by portraying two faith healers and their patients. The residents of these areas see faith healers more as general practitioners, rather than visiting them for their ascribed mystical powers. This is largely because free health care is almost impossible to come by, and faith healers, as opposed to hospitals, work on the basis of voluntary donations.

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