BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Friday, August 1, 2008

charcoal portraits

PIER 18, TONDO, Manila - A thick blanket of smoke fills the air. Beneath the haze, men, women and children work endlessly to survive daily life. This muddy patch of land is what outsiders call ulingan, a make-shift charcoal factory.

Those not used to the smoke can only spend a few minutes before their lungs and throat hurt but the people here endure the suffocating carbon emitted in the tedious process of turning wood into charcoal.

(The make-shift charcoal factory is set against a backdrop of thatched houses and heaps of garbage. For the residents of Tondo, this is home.)

(Lina doesn't mind the dirt. She fills the sack of charcoal which she will sell for P280.)

(Joel and his wife Marisa are preparing the wood for the overnight process of heating it into coal.)

(Women and children help in the production of charcoal. They sift through the patches of land to look for bits and pieces of wood that could still be sold

(The sacks of charcoal will be sold to individual buyers who will then repackage the charcoal and sell it for P6 per pack. One sack can make 36 packs.)

(A man counts his earnings today. He has sold six sacks of charcoal for a total of P1,680.00.)

(A woman prepares to repackage the sack of charcoal.)

(Most children in Tondo are not in school. They help their parents in the ulingan.)

(They help in transporting the sacks of charcoal to the market.)

(This is Baby Jane, four years old. The ulingan is her playground.)