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With only a few more hours in my office, and my bags almost packed for departure tomorrow to Philippines, I’m really looking forward to arriving in Manila on Thursday. During my trip I’ll be visiting some of my friends at various not-for-profit organisations, interviewing (through informal conversations) low-income slum dwellers, photographing some of the <$1/day Filipinos, and meeting with potential marketing partners in Manila.

However, for anyone who’s picturing it as a cruisy holiday in a tropical island paradise, you might not have exactly the right image! For starters, there’s a typhoon due to hit Manila late today, and the schools have closed early and sent kids home about 1pm.

I’m flying via Kuala Lumpur, so I expect that the worst of the gale-force winds and heavy rains will have eased before I arrive, but there’s still a high probability of flooding, possible power outages, and potential road blocks due to fallen objects such as billboards, light poles, and trees.

This is a regular occurrence in Philippines, and many other tropical nations that lie in the path of monsoon rains, typhoons and hurricanes. The flooding in Manila on September 26th last year was the most severe in about forty years, but lesser floods still have a huge impact not just on transport and commerce, but also directly affecting millions of people living in low-lieing areas who’s houses are flooded or, worse yet, who live in lean-to shanty structures that may be completely swept away.

If you’re interested in seeing more than just the postcard-perfect beaches of Philippines, please stick with me over the next few days as I share my photographs and stories from some of the most difficult areas of Manila on this blog.

At a practical level, I’ll try to provide the contact details of all the not-for-profit organisations I visit along the way so that you can connect up with any that strike a chord with you — they’re always very grateful for volunteers, technical skills, and practical and financial support. And if you’d like to support my efforts in any way, please drop me a line.

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