A dead world I didn´t expect. Located next to a catholic church, behind painted walls, there supposed to be the South Catholic Cemetary. I walked around searching for a possibility to enter. Why? Why not, I like the dead ones, they are pretty calm guys. But no official entrance, no gates, only a tinny doorway, backed with heavy chains and a lock. Here and there an angel´s white blank ass finks on the noisy streets of Makati. I am not sure if I can just climb over, I mean, not everyone is welcome to heaven´s fleshly paradise, right? I went back to the tinny doorway and it was opened. I pushed my head through, couldn´t hardly unblock it, the green painted iron sheet was heavier than it looked like. As I expected, the cemetary ws a ruin, covered with plants and waste. But my curiousity pushed me through, scratching my arms bloody. I stumbled inside. And at a glance it crossed my mind, fuck, it doesn´t look really safe here, Dude. I entered a shelter, a hidden place of the homeless. An old guy was sitting next to the gate, gazing, moony. I turned around, through the green gate teenagers squeezed inside, half dressed in poor clothes. I was trapped, even I didn´t feel like. I did what I always do, I greeted them polite and with a smile. And, not surprisingly, they smiled and immediately jumped on me, interviewing me about my tattoos, enthusiastic. I had to undress myself, of course. They asked me straight away if I can tattoo them. I replied with the stupid question how old they are. Fifteen, fourteen and sixteen the girl, who will be later blamed as a lesbian. One of the boys had some letters on his back, but I was not able to figure out what it means. I asked if I can take a picture. He neglected, but waved to someone. At this point I was more concerning with investigating the kids and if I can trust them. I was still close to the gate, so I didn´t really feel snatched by them, even the gate was opened less than a shoulder wide now. Whatever. I surrendered to my fears. Fuck off. I decided to trust them. Why not anyway. Because they are poor, yes. But beside the short panic attack I sensed, there was only curiosity, for each other, so we shared sort of an interdependence. An old man approached, presenting me his tattoo on his upper arm. The kids behind me motivating, “Picture. Picture!” And laughing there asses off. He agreed. I calmed down and looked about. Headless angels, stony coffins, broken or used as a washing line, shelve or bed. “This is were I sleep.” Another elder came along. He introduced himself as Cesar, in very good english. He welcomed me and after the mandatory questions – where are you from, how long you stay in Manila etc., he asked me if he can guide me around, leaving the exit, heading for a religious surreal jungle trip, passing scrambled tombs, defiled graves, last resting-places transformed to urban resting places, shelter for the unloved. They live here illegaly, but accepted by the police. “They know our situation, so they let us stay here. […] Yes, the church as well.” – “Do they support you, providing food or clothes?” “The church?” “Church or government.” – “No. Nobody cares about us.” Cesar lost his wife nearly 10 years ago. He has three daughters and one son. He sold his house for the treatment of his wife. She had lung cancer. She died. He had nothing. A couple of years ago her youngest door showed up, divorced, without education. She lives now on the cemetary as well. “I always told her, go to school before you marry and than suddenly she was here. I gave already everything, why I have to take care about her again now.” Cesar is 60 years old. He repeats again and again that he doesn´t want to have charities or donations. “I want to work, I can, still. I can carry two sacks of rice, no problem, I am strong like fourty years old. I need work, to safe money to afford someday a house again.” He tried many times to apply for a job, even lowest paid, “I don´t care. I need work to create a sustainable life again.” On this part of the cemetary eight families survive, day by day. In rainy season of course it is worst. The tombs, where there inside manage a plce to sleep, are flooded, clothes don´t dry anymore. He shows me his belongings. “This is all what I have.” Two shirts, two shorts and a pile of unfolded cartons, his matress. He sleeps on a coffin. His daughter, during we talk, was cleaning his house, she is kneeing on the ground and with a plastic water bottle she frees the place from the water, like on a sinking ship. Than she cleans the coffin, preparing his bed. The kids, standing around us, listening, don´t smile anymore. I am nearly crying. Cesar appologizes, “Sorry, that I don´t have another story to tell, this is my life. […] I hope you will enjoy your stay on the Philippines.” Randomly foreigners loose the way and end up here. Eight since Cesar lives here, since the cemetary went rack and ruin. He calls them missionaries. My only hope is hope. “That someday someone comes across and helps us. They all promised to return. But not one did. But it gives me hope, I am waiting every day for them, we don´t have another option.” Hope is their only choice. Why is the cemetary in a state like this? Cesar is sure next year they (the city council) will chase them away and build a shopping mall with appartments. This explains why they are tolerated. “If this happens, I don´t know what to do.” He points on the kids. “I tell them every day, don´t do soemthing illegal. If you go to jail you will be marked forever and will never find a job. We only can hope and share what we have.” Another guy approaches, bit of suspiscious about the situation, about my visit. I feel sorry that I just entered their home. “No, it is not our property.” “But you live here, property or not.” “No worries, you are welcome.” Cesar tells me, that this is his friend and he is the security guard. He has, like Cesar, less than a handfull of teeths left, black and bit of boggy. He is not really happy to see a white guy, a foreigner here. If something would happen to me, without any harm caused by the families living here, and if not from the beginning I am very sure now, that they would never humiliate or mug me, so for them it would be worst, police would have to investigate, drag them down, close the gates of their little green paradise. His friend has tattoos on each hand, MG and GL. He is not firm in english like Cesar. “Brotherhood. Brotherhood always protects you.” Ok, he is the scary security guy. The other part of the cemetary is occupied by nearly a hundred and they are famous for illegal operations. “Don´t go there, promise. You saw the gate? With the heavy armed policemen? They let you pass but they will tell you, you are from this point on responsible for your belongings and your life.” Promised, I don´t go there. I feel a strong desire to take more pictures to publish them, to document, to record their life-stories, but I have to leave now. “My friend is closing the gate now, you have to leave, you are not allowed to stay here for longer but you always can come back, my friend.” I ask Cesar, if I can give him some coins. “Of course, but up to you, you don´t have to.” I didn´t want to embarass him, he is more proud than a lot of people I met, in suites or in rags. They need work, not charity, not donations, not an other dependancy. Humans, why ever stranded, are still humans, so why shouldn´t they desire a freewill, to decide, to create their live and identity and not being created. “All what we have is hope and each other.” – One of my most precious and salutary moments of my life. I am so grateful having met this families, living on a catholic cemetary, forgotten, sleeping on tombs, one step away… between luxury appartment buldings, shopping malls and finance business blocks, in one of the most wealthy districts of the city, probably of the Philippines, not a scream for help away… just around the corner I had a delicious lunch at a vegetarian restaurant, for nearly 10 dollars. – It´s a sad world, always, but sometimes we can and have to enjoy, even though I deeply hope I will never loose reality again… now I can cry.