Some months ago, we visited a village in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City lined with cute little Dutch houses painted in white and blue. It’s hard to picture the place as being one of the largest slum areas in the city during the past decades.
Bagong Silang has now been rehabilitated with housing projects from Gawad Kalinga, changing not only the physical aspect of the community but also its general attitude towards life itself. When before there was only chaos and disorder, there is now good vibes and hope.
KLM Philippines, celebrating its 60th year of operation in the country, had also made its contribution to this social renewal by donating a whole village for Gawad Kalinga’s housing project.
Patterned after the Delft Blue miniature Dutch houses, KLM built a total of 47 white and blue colored houses that are now considered homes by more than 250 residents.
Fresh from winning the DPP KLM: On Assignment Europe; Joel H. Garcia and yours truly were invited by KLM Philippines to document the current condition of the housing project they did with Gawad Kalinga last 2010.
Even though street photography is really my first love, I didn’t really know what the outcome of this shoot would be. We weren’t really given any guides on what to photograph or what the theme of the shoot would be. Basically, the only instructions I remembered was that we were to go to Bagong Silang and just shoot.
So it was with a bit of hesitation and confusion as I got off the van and started down the neatfully paved alley of KLM and Air France’s Dutch houses.
The children were the first to welcome us, smiling and waving their way into our lenses.
Inside the mini Dutch houses, I can see how it has now really become a home for these families and how KLM has touched their lives; diplomas, family portraits and medals hang alongside posters of the Royal Dutch Airline.
The photographs we took that day were to be featured in a limited edition coffee table book for KLM Philippine’s 60th anniversary. And months after the words were written, the photographs edited and the layout finalized; the book is finally published.
The simple soft blue leather cover is really just handsome and the quality of the pages is fantastic. I got to contribute a fourth of the photos featured in the book with the other fourths from Joel H. Garcia, Eli Van Ingen and Capt. Martin Smit.
The short time I spent with the people of Bagong Silang taught me the importance of having a shelter to come home to, how this simple thing that most of us took for granted changed their outlook on life and gave them hope. KLM’s Dutch House for a Cause is the first book I ever contributed in and I’m glad and honored to be part of spreading the good cause.