I'm sure there are parts of the Philippines that resemble paradise or whatever beach/resort/dream vacation one could imagine. Navotas isn't quite that. Not really. Its about an hour ish drive outside the capitol Manila (with traffic--which is another thing to behold, once you get past the nausea). It's basically a slum. Poverty, prostitution, all that. 

Once I got there and saw all the pain and suffering, it easily has the power to crush the spirit. But somehow it doesn't. The joy of the Filopinos transcends the destitution.  They have smiles and laughs and skips in the step despite ratty clothes, rotting teeth, failing health, and hungry bellies. I smile and laugh with them and the joy on all their faces only increases. To me, this is a different kind of paradise. One where, there is no doubt that the Lord lives here. 

The river that runs through Navotas. It's more sludge than water if you look closely. Best to plug your nose if you do!

Filipinos waiting in line to see the doctor at the medical clinic.

My own little paradise in Navotas--best mangos in the world.

This baby was born blind and then abandoned. The family that brought her in had adopted her even though they already couldn't feed their own kids.  

Many makeshift homes along the river banks.

Playing with girls on the street late at night. Parents were not around and were most likely "working."

Vanessa fell out of a jeepney (Filipino public transpo) and cut her head pretty good. The infection was looking pretty gnarly. She got a thorough head scrub and several dressing changes and looked much better by the end of the week. 

A home next to the river. 

Most babies did not wear diapers--too expensive. 

The sludge...