I do documentary photography of children living in poverty in the Philippines. There is wide spread poverty in the Philippines, particularly in the “mega cities” such as Manila. These are photos of the children of people who migrated from the countryside to Manila, hoping to find work and looking for a better life. Instead, their children find themselves in worst poverty than before: living of scrap food at garbage sites, hanging and sleeping in the streets because they have no money for housing, doing drugs. These children don’t attend school. There is no work for them. Their lives waste away. There is no perspective, no hope for change.
While I was working on this photo essay my story became one about street children who are becoming dependent on a street drug called Paglipad (flying). This drug gave them the feeling of flight. Many of the children in the pictures are high most of the day because solvents are more easily available to them than food. As a consequence, they are severely malnourished. Many die. The problem is widespread. Locals and tourists ignore the street children.
I have spent time with a group of these children. I have been deeply moved by them, living in a city that is celebrated for an economic revival – a revival that affects only a small percentage of the population. I am overwhelmed by the hopelessness of their situation. I hope that my pictures create awareness and that social documentary photography will eventually end the ordeal that the children are experiencing. I am optimistic that national and international agencies will eventually alleviate the suffering of the Manila street children.
Q&A with Alexander Conrady
Photography is my obsession for freedom.
Photography and writing…
The photographer has the responsibility to take his camera on a journey into the real world. The writer can take the same journey. However, he is allowed to seek refuge in the abstract world. Together they can form an even more powerful team that enables them to tell stories. Stories that give people a voice and describe the world we are living in.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
The medium of photography itself! In its purest form photography is a truly democratic space. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, all that counts is the final photograph. But if I had to pick photographers that inspired me the most, I would choose Sebastio Salgado and Eugene Richards.