Interview with Remy Cabello, tour leader at Smokey Tours and living in Tondo (district of Manila)
Name: Remy Cabello
Organisation: Smokey Tours
Lives in: Tondo (district of Manila)
Can you describe an "ordinary day" of your life (how does it look like)?
"My day starts at 6 a.m. with cooking for my children. I cook already for the whole day. When my children are going to school, I'm clearing my house and taking care of my dogs. In the afternoon I teach the children in my own daycare center how to read and the alphabet (the children are between three and five years old). In the evening I watch the TV and sometimes I go with my children outside to an internet access-point somewhere in the area. Around 7 p.m. we have dinner and only on Sunday we eat with our family at a restaurant. Between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. I go to bed."
How long are you already living in Tondo?
"I am already living in Tondo for fourteen years. Before I was living in Mindanao another region. For my family I moved to Manila, also for searching for a job."
How would you describe the life in Tondo?
"Sometimes it's nice, because you have a opportunity to find a job. The community where I live in is nice, people are helping each other, because of that I also have a lot of friends here. It is nice to be a tour leader and show the community to tourist during the Slum Tour is nice. Finally the district of Tondo is way more cheaper than elsewhere in Manila city.
But sometimes it's difficult, because of the situation of uncertainty, especially when the water (threat of flood) comes in the slums and destroy the area. There are always treats of getting ill because the water is polluted. Expenses for electricity are too high I think."
What should you change in the slums if you could change ONE thing?
"The environment, in particular I would propose an open canal to protect the people from the threat of flood and improve the hygienic facilities such as toilets and showers."
How do you see your own future in five years?
"I'm not living in the slums anymore, but in a village outside Manila. Nevertheless, I will still keep continuing to help the community in Tondo by establish my own foundation. This foundation should help the poor people to provide them with school materials and support the education system in the slums to build op more schools."
Do you have a family (husband/children) and what are they doing?
"I have two children named Getro (10 years old) and Kasandra (14 years old). Since four years I am separated with my husband."
How did you find Smokey Tours?
"Through Nympha, another tour leader. We are friend and neighbors and she recommended me to the Smokey Tours three years ago. I was recommended because I know a lot of the slums and the people living in there."
What do you like about your work as a tour leader?
"Main advantage is that I am meeting a lot of new people, the tourists participating in the tours, that's really nice. Furthermore I can practice my English pronunciation and benefit from additionally income of the tours."
What are the things you don't like about your work as a tour leader?
"Sometimes I have some arguments with other people and sometimes the tour starts too early."
Do you think some people who are living in the slums are feeling to be "in a zoo" when the tour is passing by?
"No, because I don't encourage tourist to do that. I try to give tourist a good view about the life in the slums and people in the slums don't feel like being "in a zoo". I know the community very well, people living the slums are always very friendly to the tourists.
What (do you think) is the main advantage of the tours for the people in the slums?
"The people living in the slums expecting help from the tourists. The St. Marten foundation (the partner organization of Smokey Tours) is helping the people there, but Smokey Tours not directly. That's actually a pity, because that is the main goal of Smokey Tours. Smokey Tours should help the community more by being "the face of helping" itself (not only through St. Martin). For tourists the tour gives an inside in the "ordinary life" in the slums and being an eye-opener for them."
Remy thank you very much!