Slums can be found in 526 communities, located in all the cities and municipalities of Metro Manila in the Philippines. They account for some 2.54 million men, women and children living in the most depressed areas of the country's prime metropolis. These slum communities are located on vacant lands that are both private and government owned. Usually they are situated along rivers and creeks, in garbage dumps, along railroad tracks, under bridges, and beside factories. Although there are relatively large slum communities, the settlement pattern of the Metro Manila urban poor is generally dispersed, with houses located wherever there is space and opportunity. Metro Manila’s slums cannot be geographically defined in the same way that ghettos can be clearly segregated in some countries.
While squatting is considered illegal in the Philippines, slum dwellers perceive themselves as legal citizens awaiting housing placement, as the government has made promises to address this issue. Furthermore, the length of stay in these areas and the improvements made by these residents raise the question of land ownership. Most slum dwellers have spent their lives in these localities and their households are now “owned” by second and third generation family members. As they don’t officially own the land, demolition and eviction is a constant threat.
The following photographs illustrate some of the slums in Metro Manila.