Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ulingan in the Philippines

I've known about Ulingan for several years. To live there is to live in squalor and poverty with pretty much no way out. There is no economy, no jobs. 
This is a description from National Geographic:
Thousands of urban slum dwellers including these in the Ulingan community in the Philippines capital of Manila (map) live amid filth and swirls of toxic smoke as they eke out a living making charcoal from wood scavenged from nearby garbage dumps and construction sites.
The conditions of slums near Manila Bay are unhealthy enough—the Ulingans live next to a rubbish dump. But the rudimentary process of making charcoal in open pits exposes the squatters to harmful emissions such as as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and soot, as well as chemicals when burning treated wood. The result is a myriad of respiratory illnesses and heart disease.

Of the hundreds of pictures I've seen of Ulingan, almost every one shows the effects of charcoal everywhere: on feet and bodies and clothes, everywhere on the ground. There is nothing green. Nothing.

I learned about this community from Sidney Shoeck, a photojournalist of the highest caliber and integrity who is dedicated to the Philippines. (see my sidebar for his blog). 

Through him I have also learned about Project Pearls, a non profit organization doing everything it can to help the children of Ulingan have access to education and to help the families of Ulingan have access to basic needs.

These are not people who feel sorry for themselves. Like most Filipinos, they are a proud  people doing their best.

Sidney is currently doing a series on his blog that highlights 50 mothers. I've taken the liberty of sharing some of his photos because I know he won't mind.

If you're looking for a cause to support through money or prayers, Ulingan is damn worthy. Google it and understand what it's like to live there, what it would take to thrive there. Believe me, these photos are not selected as the worse. Every inch looks like this. And I've not included the charcoal smoke that permeates the air. 

Why am I introducing you to Ulingan?

You know why...



  1. Not that I needed yet another reason to feel both humbled and grateful about how abundant my life is compared to most of the world's population, I will add Ulingan to my list of prayers and donations. Thank you for introducing me to this need.


    1. Thanks, 8. Ever since I saw this place, I keep thinking what it must be like to have charcoal everywhere xo


  2. just seeing this - wow.

    thinking of you - all OK?????

  3. Wow: I know, Mim. Mind boggling

    We're mostly okay. JB has really taken a hit with intermittent dizziness. I do think we'll figure out what 's needed


  4. That is a truly appalling situation!

    The thing that troubles me even more is that there are many people who live in similar conditions in North American. Most are aboriginals/natives/First Nations people, forced onto unsuitable land, living in communities where employment rates are 90 per cent, or higher. They are abandoned by government, unknown to/ignored by most people, and attacked by PETA and the like.

    Poverty is a choice. Not a choice made by poor people, but by rich or even "middle class" people — by a majority in nation. Once we choose to solve the problems here, we will learn how to solve the challenges in Ulingan. The two cannot be separated.

    Blessings and Bear hugs! Best regards to Emily.

  5. It's easy to forget how very easy we have it here.