The Slum

Risky Business: Making a living in Manila’s Tondo slum

Faced with daily hardships, making a living is the only way most Tondo residents can ensure they will survive.

Fifty years from now, one in three people worldwide will live in slums like Tondo in the sprawling mega city of Manila – built without proper sanitation, lacking medical facilities, and packed to capacity.

But in the face of all life’s hardships, finding work and making a living – no matter how – is the only way for most residents to ensure their survival.

Ricky Fuertes makes his living sorting through rubbish – tonnes of it, every day. He earns $2.50 a day scavenging so he can feed his family of five. But he faces his biggest challenge when his slum his burnt to the ground.

Nearby, Chito Barquin dives for his money. He normally makes a living working salvage jobs, but times are tough so he now dives in polluted waters for old tyres he can sell. His meager catch must feed his wife and five children.

None of Chito’s three grown-up children graduated from high school and the family has all its hopes pinned on their youngest, 15-year old Evelyn. But Chito are struggling to afford to keep her in school.

Meanwhile, tyre repair man Freddie Awayang runs his business on one of the busiest road in the slum. He has been repairing rubber for 32 years but local competition is affecting his profits.

And now he has even bigger things to worry about: He has been served with an eviction notice, and his baby granddaughter is in need of a life-changing operation.

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.