There are many things I am growing to love about Manila.  It is a city of stark contrast and, like New York, it’s fragmented pieces bump up against each other in strange ways . Citywide oil tax protests and the discovery of the newest planet made of diamonds share the same space in one of the Manila daily papers.  Giant malls filled with imported goods tower over soot covered ally ways where men build new mechanical hardware out of discarded metal and batteries. A new light rail system forms a basket above the city with air-conditioned, pristine cars; while the streets below stutter with the jammed, fume filled, traffic standstill of jeepneys, buses, cars, pedi cabs, the intrepid pedestrian (us) and the insane cyclist.

Today we went to the Chinese cemetery.  I feel conflicted about documenting places of worship and rest, yet I seem to keep doing it.  Esy and I wandered around the elaborate system of roads and walkways lined with tombs.   Some of the wealthiest Filipinos are of Chinese descent.  In the most extreme cases, these tombs are reported to house swimming pools and cable TV for the departed.

In the mix of the beautifully maintained and crumbling structures were live/work spaces, living people inhabiting abandoned tombs.  Clothes lines, dishes, bicycles, work benches– evidence of people who have found a quieter place to exist than the busy streets outside the cemetery wall.

-by Sarah