The Slum

A six part series on the life, love, survival and aspiration of those in Manila's Tondo slum.

This six-part documentary series follows the lives of Manila’s Tondo slum residents, as they live, love, survive and aspire to escape probably one of the world’s toughest places to live in.

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. In the midst of this area’s battle with overcrowding, Remy Permites, a birth attendant advocating for family planning is on the frontline. 

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

The slums of Manila are under massive population explosion. Remy sees it everyday, living in a small government-built apartment slash makeshift clinic, which she shares with 14 members of her family and her clients. Under this challenging living condition, she tries to contribute to the community through her work. Along with delivering babies, she juggles paperwork, additional training on child delivery and taking classes on family planning and birth control. Together with another advocate, Jane, Remy 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 people. 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. 

To ensure her 21 year-old daughter who is now a mother of three does not make the same mistakes she did, Lorna takes her to get a contraceptive injection. 

The Slum
  • Info
  • Release date2014
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Paul Roy
  • Production companyAl Jazeera