What I have learned from my first Slum Tour
What I have learned from my first Slum Tour
Philippines is known for having the best islands and the best beaches known to everyone. What people have not yet known is that the Philippines is a third—world country and interesting enough, too, is that you can have a taste “life on the other side” by experiencing a Slum Tour! This kind of tour serves as an eye-opener to tourists and locals visiting Manila. It makes you experience what it truly is to live in the Philippines and be immersed to the distinct Filipino Culture. #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines in a different way, that is!
See also: Panagbenga 2019 Schedule of Activities
Smokey Slum Tour: An eye-opener
The Manila Smokey Slum Tour is the first for me and I really did not know what to expect. Three things just popped into my mind, though, on what might happen during the tour: (1) We would be able to immerse ourselves in to the community and interview the residents there and know their state of living, (2) Ask if they have livelihood programs to support their residents, and (3) See the slum’s current and raw state; and mingle with the children.
In this tour, I was with 4 other bloggers who were also first-timers in this kind of tour. It was also my first time to meet them and we were then oriented about what to see, know, and appreciate about this tour, in partnership with World Experience Philippines.
My realizations and the lessons I have learned
The tour started with a local tricycle going to BASECO (Bataan Shipping and Engineering Company) Compound, a 56-hectare barangay right at the coast of Manila Bay and is considered to be the largest slum area in Metro Manila with a population of about 105,000. This urban poor community is a surprise because it had an ecosystem of its own. What greeted us are the warm smiles of the residents leaving near the Port Area and we immediately started the tour. The immersion of the tour is really heartwarming because you get to appreciate the simple lives of the people living there and what struck me most is that they are not at all complaining, in fact, they are still grateful for what they have. Talk about resiliency.
We were then made aware that life in the slums is not easy at all. I then had a better appreciation of the fact that I am still lucky to have experienced such slum tour because it made me realize that life is not just about surviving – it is living your life to fullest. This one-of-a-kind moral slum tour will really expose you to the harsh realities of life – the stratification, the poverty, and the natural resiliency of Filipinos, all pictured in one scene.
This immersion also led me to live life more, to appreciate the simple things in life and to give back to people who are in need. It made my heart open to this lessons and it showed me that the world is still full of hope, especially in the eyes of children who greet you with a smile.
What to expect
The Manila Smokey Slum Tour in BASECO Compound is a different kind of excursion. This city of stilts and interconnected houses face the Manila Bay and their environment is quite typically different from what we usually see.
At the beginning of the tour, you would be greeted by the houses-on-stilts that face the bay and pass through a network of narrow passageways. The tour guide will then give you a glimpse of the life in the slums and show you the casual and usual things done there.
Turista Boy Tip: There is no clean source of water in the area so I advise you to bring your own bottle of water and some light snacks during the tour.
You will then get to mingle with the children along the way and you will also get a chance to interview and speak with one of the families in the compound and ask them questions about the life in the slums. The tour guide will also lead you to the outskirts of the Barangay (where we saw a Chapel, a makeshift Library for the Kids, and numerous internet cafes and eateries just to name a few).
We were also brought to the Compound’s Livelihood Center and Mangrove Plantation and Nursery. In their Livelihood Center, residents are taught how to make crafts and souvenir items out of water lilies from Pasig River and paper from garlic skin. It is an ingenious way to let them learn that there is still something to be done with these things. Recycling is also a huge habit being practiced by most of the residents in the area. They sell their souvenir items at a very affordable price and will let you remember something from the slum tour!
Who to contact for the Slum Tour
For more information on who to contact for your scheduled Slum Tour and how much a tour would cost, you can visit them in their website here or send them a private message on their Facebook Page here.