Humans of Payatas (Vol.1)

At Humans of Payatas we share real stories from people in Payatas. Payatas is one of the largest and poorest slums in the Philippines, but it’s also home to great people with unique and beautiful stories.

Humans of Payatas began as a way to give people their power back . Some people said we were speaking for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. We thought there was a better way… rather than speaking for them, why not let them speak for themselves? Because no matter how poor someone is, no matter anyone’s situation, they have the power to tell their own story. We don’t want to take that power away by speaking for them, so we just have to ask and listen.

So in their words, please enjoy this month’s highlights from Humans of Payatas.

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Angie || 24 years old

“My husband and I are both creative people. He’s a graphic artist but he knows how to do a lot of other stuff as well like website development and event organizing. We actually met at an event he organized. It was an art competition about saving the earth and I was the champion. I won P15k, 10k of which I donated to a foundation for children with special needs. My brother has Down’s syndrome so I wanted to help others like him. Now I don’t live in Payatas anymore but my husband and I still visit him every week.”

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Arman || 28 years old

“I work as a furniture delivery boy but my dream job is to be a chef. I’ve always loved cooking, particularly Filipino food. But it’s so difficult to be a chef especially if you live in Payatas. Perhaps the closest I’ve ever been to my dream job was when I worked in Jollibee. That’s it. Now, I still don’t want to give up on my dreams so I started my own carinderia (local eatery). Profits are low but at least I get to do what I love.”

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Jun || 37 years old

“Every morning, I peddle taho (soy pudding) and then in the afternoon, I peddle binatog (corn dessert). I actually don´t know why people only eat taho in the morning and binatog in the afternoon. I mean, do their stomachs have a schedule or something? But I´m glad I make the kids happy because I remember back when I was still a kid, everytime I heard the bell of the taho peddler, I would run excitedly out of the house. Now, I´m the one who makes the kids feel excited.”

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Marilyn || 33 years old

“I’ve been peddling maja (coconut pudding) and biko (sticky rice) for 9 years now. At first I didn’t enjoy it but I discovered a hidden gem in my job: knowing people’s secrets! Because I spend my day talking to many different people, I have collected quite a number of juicy gossips. I know so many things about so many people. But of course I would never spread what I know; I just listen to my customers talk. See, I need to listen to them so we can build a rapport and they then become regular customers. No gossips, no rapport. No rapport, no sales.”

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Roy || 27 years old

“In the 16 years that I’ve lived here in Payatas, perhaps the happiest memory that I have was when I first saw my wife. I just moved here to Payatas with my father. I wasn’t studying anymore so I just hung around on the streets. My wife lived in Bulacan Street back then. One day, she passed by my street because her friends lived here. She immediately caught my attention because she was so beautiful. So I introduced myself to her, we became friends, and the rest is history. Of course that was a long time ago. Our relationship isn’t how it was back then. We don’t flirt much anymore; we’re focused on running our junk shop business. But I still can’t forget the day I first saw her. People who say there is only garbage here in Payatas obviously haven’t seen my wife yet.”

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