Summary from “The Philippines – The Slum Episode 5: For Love or Money” – film by Paul Roy, Al Jazeera

Dear readers,

This is the fifth summary for the six-part film series, “The Slum”.

Shutdown in 1995, Smokey Mountain was the most toxic dump in Southeast Asia. Widowed mum of eight, Nieves lives there with her two youngest sons, Jello and Jerry. Her nine-year old son’s brain was injured after a fall leaving him partially paralysed and mute. Because of his need for care, she can only work once a week selling lemongrass and ruby at a market 2.5km away. Decades of decaying rubbish produced toxic but fertile soil. A bundle of crop’s worth is $2.50, just enough to get by for dinner. Nieves takes Jello to a physiotherapist with faith that some day he may be able to walk again.

At a hospital, Sally arrives at 2am to join the queue for her routine pregnancy check up. She waited for twelve hours for the routine check up. The family finds out that the baby is in a breech position which means a cesarean section and extra cost. The baby is born happy and healthy but the bill amounts to $320. A few months later, the family have moved into government housing two hours away from Manila. The living conditions are much more comfortable and the air is cleaner but food is expensive and work is scarce.

Dante has been driving his jeepney for over thirteen hours. Because of added expense for diesel and flat tyres, he will earn just four dollars a day. Dante’s wife’s mental health issues made him decide to quit his job to dedicate himself to his wife’s care. He sells most of their belongings for food. And every Monday, they are given rice, canned goods and instant noodles. A month has gone by with no work and the situation becomes dire. Dante’s daughter makes the sacrifice to leave school in order to take care of her mother so Dante can work.