Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Unreported World episode 13 2010 Year 12

Watch the video about Manila.

Reporter Jenny Kleeman and director Richard Cookson find the Philippine capital stretched to breaking point, with mothers four to a bed in maternity wards, primary schools with a thousand children in each year, and graveyards with no more room to bury the dead.

As the world faces an overpopulation crisis, Manila provides a vision of what might become ordinary in the not too distant future.

The team begin their trip at the biggest maternity hospital in the city. It operates on an industrial scale, with four mothers and their babies sharing each bed. The ward is at double capacity when the team arrive, and it's so overcrowded that the nurses have to patrol it to make sure no one is sleeping on their babies and suffocating them.

Kleeman learns that women often have eight children or more here, and some of the mothers say it's hard to make ends meet with such large families. But the Filipino government doesn't promote contraception as it fears losing the Catholic vote.

Kleeman spends the night with a family of nine in Baseco, a shanty town where 90,000 people share just half a square kilometre. A third of Manila's 20 million residents live in squatter settlements like this. New homes are being built every day; wherever there's space another family will fill it. There is no sanitation and the children grow up surrounded by rubbish.

Like everything else in Manila, the water supply can't meet the demand of the number of people who want to use it, and contagious diseases spread fast. Jennifer, the mother of the family, has tuberculosis. She tells Kleeman her children have persistent rashes but she can't afford to take them to a doctor for treatment.

Kleeman and Cookson walk to school with Jennifer's son, Mark Anthony. He's one of 6000 pupils at the local primary, with 1000 children in his school year alone. The numbers are so high that children have to be taught in shifts throughout the day, with some classes starting at 6am.

The team gets word that a slum is being cleared in Quezon City, in the north of Manila. Two thousand families live here, and this isn't the first time they've been evicted from this patch of land: it's privately owned and they've been staying here illegally. The demolition men fight with the residents, who are trying to keep hold of their building materials so they can rebuild their homes elsewhere.

One resident, Ludivina, tells Kleeman she has ten children and no idea where they will now live. Evictions like this happen all the time in Manila but they don't solve the city's squatter problem: they simply move it from one location to another.

Most Filipinos choose to be buried rather than cremated, which creates its own problems for the city. The team visits a cemetery where as many as 80 funerals take place every day. Most people can't afford their own tombs, so they rent them. And if their families fail to keep up the rent payments after they're buried, their bodies are exhumed and another coffin is placed in their grave. Kleeman finds hundreds of families living in makeshift homes among the tombs, jostling for space with the dead.

Manila's problems may appear extraordinary. But as global population grows, the city provides a vision of what might become ordinary around the world as the rest of the planet runs out of space.

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