The Slum


As a birth attendant advocating for family planning, Remy is on the frontline of Tondo’s battle with overcrowding.

Note: This film contains scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

Tondo in northern Manila is home to the city’s largest collection of slums. It is also one of the most densely populated areas on the planet.

Paradise Heights, home to former squatters, is in the heart of Tondo. There, self-taught midwife Remy Permites is delivering new life in the slums. Remy does her work with only the most basic equipment: a stethoscope, a pair of gloves and little else. Though she has little formal training, she plays a crucial role in an area where few can afford to pay for medical care.

The slums of Manila are undergoing a population explosion. But Remy has managed to escape the shacks and lives in a small government-built apartment, with 14 members of her family. Her home also doubles as a makeshift clinic.

Along with delivering babies, Remy is responsible for delivering paperwork. She continues her training, takes classes on birth control, helps a young girl bury her stillborn baby, and along with family planning advocate Jane, educates women to have smaller families.

Meanwhile, a few kilometers to the south of Remy’s clinic is Beseco slum with a population of about 45,000. There, fisherman and father of nine, Gener Pagtabunan struggles to feed his family by trying – mostly unsuccessfully – to catch fish in the polluted harbour.

His wife Lorna tries to supplement their income by selling fruit and vegetables from the front of their tiny shack. But it is a struggle for the growing family to make ends meet. Lorna, who wants to ensure her 21-year-old daughter and mother of three does not make the same mistakes she did, takes her to get a contraceptive injection.

About the series: This six-part series follows residents of Manila’s Tondo slum as they live, love, survive and aspire in some of the world’s toughest living conditions.