Children have an enormous power to teach us about the basic things that adults often find challenging in their lives. And this scene captures the essence of this – happiness is not something that is related to income or standard of living, but comes from purely within.
Baseco is one of the many slums that are located around the periphery of the more opulent and wealthy city of Manila. This dichotomy is truly fascinating, as there are two worlds that are so close and yet so far apart. Like all slums, Baseco is a strong community of individuals, often consisting of people that arrive from poorer rural areas in search of better possibilities.
Despite the fact that Baseco may appear like a daunting reality for outsiders to digest, people that move there regard it as a chance to get out of poverty. Families try to send their children to school, but this generally does not happen as they are absorbed into the labour force in order to maintain and support big families.
The situation is further compounded by poor families not having access to contraception for financial or religious issues, which means that most households have between 5 and 10 children. These little ones often live in one room, with no electricity and access to clean water, and with a meagre chance at ever obtaining an education.
And yet, all these seemingly insurmountable issues are completely absent in this photograph. There is bittersweet joie de vivre in this image, imparting both a sense of sadness and hope. And behind the beautiful faces of these young ones, there are families that will not allow their social circumstances to prevent them from protecting their children and fighting for their future.