Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community

Navotas, Metro Manila, Philippines

A Photographic Story

On Foot   One of two ways to the island, via a long precarious bamboo bridge accessible when tides are low. Not for the faint heart.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 5.6, 1/250 sec.

On Foot

One of two ways to the island, via a long precarious bamboo bridge accessible when tides are low. Not for the faint heart.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 5.6, 1/250 sec.


Even the name seems more than a touch surreal: Literally, Island Island. The sights, perhaps more so:  abject poverty, mounds of carbonized wood, soot-blackened faces, smiles peering from beneath.

One thousand inhabitants located on an isle on the shores of Manila Bay, Philippines.
The air that pervades is thick with sea spray, refuse, particles of coal dust. Yet it is thicker, still with the people’s indefatigable spirit.

Charred hands; in dire contrast with eyes, bright with hope.  Still.
No excuses; no complaints; no self-pity here. Just work. Hard work.
Perhaps it IS because they are: Island Island.

Isolated, Insulated.

Protected from the madness-tainted city.

No roads lead to Isla Pulo. It is a veritable water world, accessible only by banca or on foot at low tide, via a long and precarious bamboo bridge.

The people live off the sea and the land; the main sources of income: Fishing and the production of charcoal, sold to neighboring communities.

An incredible sense of community runs through the island. One family, working towards aspirations seemingly a tad beyond their reach; yet ones they have somehow managed to grasp.

By working together as one, the people of Isla Pulo have built three classrooms, in which their children are educated.  In preparation for a future beyond fishing and coal. Remarkably, their children – born of coal and raised on perseverance – have gone on to high school, even college, in Metro Manila.  Many of them return to the island to pay it forward; teaching those who follow after them.

Community efforts have also resulted in the acquisition of a small generator, which – for a few hours each night – provides light, powers several communal televisions, and allows for the charging of cellular phones.
Otherwise: There is no electricity, no gas, running water, or sewage system on the island.

The people of Isla Pulo have with great gratitude allowed photographer Justin James Wright into their community: Through his photographs, he has given them a voice to speak into a world that might otherwise pay no heed. His unobtrusive lens chronicles daily life on the island, allowing us a glimpse into the soul of people, undefined by circumstance.

These pictures are not to put the people of Isla Pulo on display, or to patronize them.
Neither are they meant to evoke pity.

These pictures are:
  RESILIENCE

Text by Angie Duarte (with many thanks :)


Romelyn   Windows to her soul, her eyes speak volumes and tell tales of lives lived beyond her nine years.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4, 1/60 sec.

Romelyn

Windows to her soul, her eyes speak volumes and tell tales of lives lived beyond her nine years.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4, 1/60 sec.


Philippine Photography. Manila Photography. Justin Wright Photog

Mary Joy

Innocence, captured in doe eyes and in the delicate upturn of an almost smile, she finds protection in community.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/200 sec.


Sisters   Reinalisa, eight, and Angel, three, capture the enduring bond of sisterhood.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.0, 1/320 sec.

Sisters

Reinalisa, eight, and Angel, three, capture the enduring bond of sisterhood.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.0, 1/320 sec.


Rhea May   Left to her own devices, Rhea May swings to her 4-year-old heart’s content.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.0, 1/250 sec.

Rhea May

Left to her own devices, Rhea May swings to her 4-year-old heart’s content.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.0, 1/250 sec.


Tinder Box   What lies within is of endless intrigue to curious siblings Renlyn, eight, and Sael, five.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/250 sec.

Tinder Box

What lies within is of endless intrigue to curious siblings Renlyn, eight, and Sael, five.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/250 sec.


Ronalyn   At one year-old, the hammock is Ronalyn’s oyster.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/250 sec.

Ronalyn

At one year-old, the hammock is Ronalyn’s oyster.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/250 sec.


Isla Pulo   The surreal, inhabited by the strong; an enclave of resilience.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 5.6, 1/160 sec.

Isla Pulo

The surreal, inhabited by the strong; an enclave of resilience.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 5.6, 1/160 sec.


Daily Grind (Above and Below)   The coal pile, his life; the shovel, his extension. He unites with the task at hand.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  February 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.

Daily Grind (Above and Below)

The coal pile, his life; the shovel, his extension. He unites with the task at hand.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

February 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/1000 sec.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/1000 sec.


Charcoal Production   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/1000 sec.

Charcoal Production

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/1000 sec.


Shallow Waters   Homeward bound with his catch from netting in the shallows, deep in thought, it would seem, the fisherman returns with his family’s provision.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4, 1/1600 sec.

Shallow Waters

Homeward bound with his catch from netting in the shallows, deep in thought, it would seem, the fisherman returns with his family’s provision.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4, 1/1600 sec.


The Boat Builder   Mang Alog enacts the art of crafting a  banca  to a captive audience of one; tobacco-chewing Mang Aleo.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.

The Boat Builder

Mang Alog enacts the art of crafting a banca to a captive audience of one; tobacco-chewing Mang Aleo.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.


Lambat   As community is woven together by hands and hearts, so are the nets of Isla Pulo. The intricacies of life, intertwined as one.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/640 sec.

Lambat

As community is woven together by hands and hearts, so are the nets of Isla Pulo. The intricacies of life, intertwined as one.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/640 sec.


Family Affair   Mercy her granddaughter, even the loyal family pooch are all in on the bagging of coal.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/500 sec.

Family Affair

Mercy her granddaughter, even the loyal family pooch are all in on the bagging of coal.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/500 sec.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.0, 1/500 sec.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.0, 1/500 sec.


Collecting Materials for Recycling   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 135 mm, F 2..0, 1/500 sec.

Collecting Materials for Recycling

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 135 mm, F 2..0, 1/500 sec.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  September 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/1600 sec.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

September 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/1600 sec.


Loreta   The break of day sees her cooking for 6 or 7 (her recollections shift, depending on the day) grandchildren, left in her care. The folds and creases of her skin, a map of 79 years of fortitude.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/200 sec.

Loreta

The break of day sees her cooking for 6 or 7 (her recollections shift, depending on the day) grandchildren, left in her care. The folds and creases of her skin, a map of 79 years of fortitude.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/200 sec.


JR   Hair, kissed by the sun, as are fish laid out to dry, this is 4-year-old JR’s playtime-meets-work-time.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.8, 1/320 sec.

JR

Hair, kissed by the sun, as are fish laid out to dry, this is 4-year-old JR’s playtime-meets-work-time.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.8, 1/320 sec.


Orly’s Water Delivery   A day in 33-year-old Orlando’s life: Off to collect potable water for the community, he pushes-off with a  banca -full of empty plastic dispensers.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/320 sec.

Orly’s Water Delivery

A day in 33-year-old Orlando’s life: Off to collect potable water for the community, he pushes-off with a banca-full of empty plastic dispensers.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/320 sec.


Labandera   Jennifer, 22, winsomely washes clothes. Her hands, in the suds; her head, in the clouds.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.8, 1/250 sec.

Labandera

Jennifer, 22, winsomely washes clothes. Her hands, in the suds; her head, in the clouds.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.8, 1/250 sec.


Philippine Photography. Manila Photography. Justin Wright Photog

Nit Picking

Mother Annabelle is one to fuss with detail, as she scours through daughter Romelyn’s hair in search of unwelcome guests, sibling Rainnable is next in line.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/200 sec.


Philippine Photography. Manila Photography. Justin Wright Photog

Children of the Coal

Irish, 6, and Rodel, 3:  born and raised of coal and dreams.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/320 sec.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/320 sec.


Mag-Ina   Jenna sits, in the safety of mother Jennifer’s arms. At the doorway of their simple abode, Jennifer appears lost in thought; 22 years of her life brought to the forefront in this solitary moment.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 5.6, 1/400 sec.

Mag-Ina

Jenna sits, in the safety of mother Jennifer’s arms. At the doorway of their simple abode, Jennifer appears lost in thought; 22 years of her life brought to the forefront in this solitary moment.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 5.6, 1/400 sec.


Respite   In the cool of a makeshift gazebo, Mercy and her grandchildren find moment’s relief from work and blistering heat.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.

Respite

In the cool of a makeshift gazebo, Mercy and her grandchildren find moment’s relief from work and blistering heat.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.8, 1/400 sec.


All Hands on Deck   On board their ship – an old refrigerator washed ashore – Ramil Jr., Sael, Macoy, Rodel sail on the seas of imagination; mateys in work and play.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/640 sec.

All Hands on Deck

On board their ship – an old refrigerator washed ashore – Ramil Jr., Sael, Macoy, Rodel sail on the seas of imagination; mateys in work and play.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/640 sec.


Recreation . - An occasional game of  pitsa  (Filipino billiards with discs), well-deserved reward at the end of a day’s work.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  February 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/500 sec.

Recreation. - An occasional game of pitsa (Filipino billiards with discs), well-deserved reward at the end of a day’s work.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

February 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/500 sec.


Meeting of the Minds   Marc and Danielle May, both six, put their pencils and minds to good use, as they work on the day’s school assignments.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/160 sec.

Meeting of the Minds

Marc and Danielle May, both six, put their pencils and minds to good use, as they work on the day’s school assignments.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/160 sec.


Children Enjoying Time in the Classroom   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/160 sec.

Children Enjoying Time in the Classroom

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.8, 1/160 sec.


Basagang Palayok  (hit the pot)  A traditional party game.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  December 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/250 sec.  (Above and Below)

Basagang Palayok (hit the pot)

A traditional party game.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

December 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/250 sec.

(Above and Below)

Philippine Photography. Manila Photography. Justin Wright Photog

Pabitin   A traditional party game.  Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  December 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/800 sec.  (Above and Below)

Pabitin

A traditional party game.

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

December 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 4.0, 1/800 sec.

(Above and Below)

Philippine Photography. Manila Photography. Justin Wright Photog

Ruben walks along the Bamboo Bridge   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4.0, 1/250 sec.

Ruben walks along the Bamboo Bridge

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4.0, 1/250 sec.


A Vendor travels along the Bamboo Bridge   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 11.0, 1/320 sec.

A Vendor travels along the Bamboo Bridge

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 11.0, 1/320 sec.


Waiting for the Tide   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 135 mm, F 2.0, 1/500 sec.

Waiting for the Tide

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 135 mm, F 2.0, 1/500 sec.


Aria   Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.  July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.0, 1/250 sec.

Aria

Resilience - The Isla Pulo Community, Philippines.

July 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 35 mm, F 2.0, 1/250 sec.


Learning to Read   The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.  February 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.0, 1/160 sec.

Learning to Read

The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.

February 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 50 mm, F 2.0, 1/160 sec.


Baby Justine takes a morning nap.   The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.  January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 24 -70 mm, F 2.8, 1/100 sec.

Baby Justine takes a morning nap.

The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.

January 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 24 -70 mm, F 2.8, 1/100 sec.


Philippine Photography. Manila Photography. Justin Wright Photog

A Portrait of Romelyn

The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.

July 2018. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/125 sec.


A Portrait of a Proud Filipino   The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.  July 2013.Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4.0, 1/160 sec.

A Portrait of a Proud Filipino

The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.

July 2013.Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 4.0, 1/160 sec.


A Portrait of a Proud Filipina   The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.  August 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/125 sec.

A Portrait of a Proud Filipina

The Isla Pulo Community, Metro Manila, Philippines.

August 2013. Canon EOS Mk III, EF 100 mm, F 2.8, 1/125 sec.


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