By CARLO MANALANSAN
MANILA — In the slums of Barangay Bagong Silangan in Quezon City, families struggle to survive. The daily grind of urban poor families is greatly confronted by unwanted challenges not long ago. The government’s anti-drug campaign or tokhang has claimed the lives of 37 residents while some suspected drug users were placed behind bars. Most of the victims who fell prey to the bloodied claws of tokhang are economic providers in their respective families. Evidently, the result of this senseless war on drugs has exacerbated the already precarious state of poor families in this barangay.
Erlinda Castillo or Nanay Linda, 64, shares a common narrative of struggle and hope amidst fragility.
Losing a child is a pain like no other and Nanay Linda was in this very heartbreaking point when two of her children succumbed to diseases more than a decade back. Similar fate had disturbed her family when Randy, one of Nanay Linda’s sons who used to be a tricycle driver, was held captive during a drug war operation in 2017. Since 2018, Nanay Linda has not been able to visit Randy because all the money she earned from ironing job, laundry services, housekeeping, and garbage collection went to their daily expenses. In the same year, Nanay Linda lost contact with her son, Marlon, and no one knows his whereabouts. She is clueless on where to start to find him or if Marlon is still alive.
Just recently, a full-blown crisis hit Nanay Linda after her better half Benjamin Castillo or Tatay Benny was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Tatay Benny’s health condition prevented him from working hence, affecting their daily subsistence. Nanay Linda has filled in the shoes of taking full responsibility of their extended family. She knew it was a tall order to carry out and dealing with all of this would be burdensome without a strong support system from her two children, six grandchildren, and friends. Tatay Benny always reminds her that in this trying time, she has to be a valiant captain of the ship who runs a great craft and braves the strong waves.
* This photo essay was the author’s output from the 14th PCP Professional Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Workshop organized by the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines, Inc. (PCP) in October 2019.