Among the countries of South East Asia, the Philippines are considered an anomalous case. Not just for the fact to be the only country in the area of the south pacific where the majority of the population belong to the catholic faith, but also for the ambiguous situation of its interior policy, with catastrophic consequences in the economical and social life.

Until the half of the ‘50s the Philippines were considered one of the emergent countries with the highest standard of development. One of the tigers of the South East Asia. In the last 20 years the country fell into the worst economical crisis ever.  

The main productive sector of the country is agriculture which absorbs nearly half of the active population, although the sector is going trough a deep crisis, mainly because for the concentration of the working fields are owned by a  tight group of landlords.

The economical development, started in the seventies from president Estrada and then continued during the following administrations, was based basically on construction and financial speculations, not followed  by a strengthen of the  industrial sector or a agriculture reform which could have helped the conditions of the farmers and improve the production.

One of the most evident consequences of this crisis is the unstoppable migration wave of the philippine population which, from each corner of  the country (the province), move towards big cities. The capital Metro Manila have seen its population growing from 700.000 people in the 60s and 70s to over 12 millions of individuals estimated in 2002 and about 8 million people living under the edge of poverty.Entire families are camping at each corner in the old town, living on betting.


They build their own barracks under bridges, in parks, a real community leave inside the big cemetery north of town. In this climate criminality and corruption are at high levels, while a slow and bureaucratic law system forces prisoners to very long periods (often for years), just to see the beginning of the trial.

This photographic projects takes life on an old railway where a part of the Manila population found a shelter and created their own reality building poor houses few steps from the railway.


The train passes many times a day, and during those short seconds their lives stay suspended between two realities. The inhabitants of this huge slum, which crosses the entire Manila, have renamed this place "RailWay Hotel". Here, more than elsewhere, is evident the state of poverty in which the lower classes of the Philippine population live.

The Paper Tiger wants to testify the various aspects of the society and the culture of an anomalous country, conditioned by 500 years of spanish domination, which erased every single traces of the indigenous culture, imposing instead the catholic doctrine.


A country rich of contrasts, between poverty and globalization.


©2002 by Massimo Sciacca - All rights reserved

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