Walking past a rusted arch that bare the words “Aroma Temporary Housing” the realization of the irony of the place becomes apparently evident as the stench of sewage, rotting waste, and trash, begins to get quite noticeable way before you reach the compound. Besides being a dumpsite this area is also home to a community of more than 6000 families. A structured sub-society made up mostly of scavengers and foragers. The main livelihood in Aroma comes from the segregation of the heaps of trash unloaded by garbage trucks day in and day out. Everything is worth a little bit of money. Scavengers diligently sift one bag after another, segregating paper, plastic, metal, and left over food. Paper, plastic, and metal, are sold to plants to be recycled. Scraps of food, mostly coming from fast food chains, are re-cooked and then either eaten or sold in the downtown market as a best-seller called “Pag-pag”. Though, one can be easily fooled by the people’s optimism it’s too obvious that there is a colossal predicament steadily growing in the heart of the Philippines’ capital. The living conditions here are horrid, education is a luxury, and the help given by the government is just inadequate. Aroma was meant to be a space for temporary housing, but this was said two decades ago.
MDLP is a photographer based in Manila. He started as a film student under the tutelage of the late director Marilou Diaz-Abaya. He has since explored the human condition through image making with almost every form of photography- from traditional, alternative, and digital mediums.