Title: Garlic Peeling Industry in BASECO, Manila
Garlic Peeling Industry in BASECO, Manila



This video was posted in Smokey Tours Facebook page on 15 November 2018, and on Smokey Tours Youtube Channel 30 January 2019.

I was the person who put everything together and I do hope it gave people some insights of what it is like living in BASECO especially how the Garlic industry works there. I sincerely hope I move people with this video, but if you want to know how it was made feel free to read below:


The Garlic Peeling Industry video in BASECO is the first one I’ve ever made for Smokey Tours, and it wasn’t at all planned. At first, I wasn’t even serious about it until I realized how I can make something without truly involving myself, and how I can help people without exerting too much physical effort.

It all started in August 2018 when there was a call for Boxless Society (a support group for the mentally ill artists and their caregivers, which I am a volunteer) to do a special slum tour wherein they can take photos/videos which in return, Smokey Tours can also use. It was also the time when I was a bit of struggling with my classes, individual thesis, working part time in a gallery, grief, and physical pain. In spite having a mild Rheumatic Heart Disease and migraine issues because of my eyes (after having two surgeries to help me see better ughhhhh), I also have hypersensitivity issues and got diagnosed with stomach problems. They found out that my intestine was not developed well, it will not close like it normally should. What more, I developed a mild fatty liver with borderline blood cholesterol, and polycystic in one of my ovaries. I just turned 25 years old. I am 120 pounds and 5’4” feet in height, and I’ve never been overweight in my life. Being diagnosed that something is wrong with me makes me feel bad mentally and emotionally. Doctors gave me a list of what I cannot eat, and also told me to pay attention to where I go. Basically, they told me not to go to the slums, where sanitation and the way of life wasn’t the best. However, I was also feeling a bit of rebellious that I joined the Boxless Society with their slum tour and I even suggested the theme of portraying the people in BASECO in a positive light in spite of their circumstances. We went on a tour 26 August 2018 and then we went to the National Museum afterwards. Because of it I was in physical pain for 2-3 days. My family or parents had no idea about it but going helped me mentally and emotionally. It gave me a purpose by realizing that somehow I can still live normally, that the feeling that I’m slowly rotting inside is just in my head. I don’t even feel almost anything now.


However, Boxless Society members are Filipinos and that their native tongue is Tagalog so, Nympha, our tour leader, spoke in both English and Tagalog during the tour. It then required the documentary to have an English translation, as the tours cater to all kind of nationalities, including second or third degree English speakers. Because of this, the ever first documentary was also never released as we (Smokey Tours staff and I) didn’t want to make a wrong impression to others who might see it. The drive to better myself got stronger, though.


The second video edit was with a voice narration from myself. I did it when I was in trying to get some air in Bicol, and the idea was to have a script made and have Nympha record it later. But it never happened, because I didn’t enjoy the idea as it lost its sense of rawness and authenticity of the background.

Then, Kimihiro Katsumi went to the gallery to propose to facilitate an origami workshop to the children of BASECO. I volunteered to help. At that time, I felt like Art is my forte as I was studying Fine Arts Major in Painting and Minor in Graphics Design, and while working part time as a gallery assistant. It felt like it was my calling to help in the workshop. What I didn’t expect though was leading foreign people to the site. I don’t live there and I’m never good at places, but I gathered up the courage. Somehow I found some strength from having purpose. So on 7-8 September 2018, we taught origami to children for 2 days straight. On the second day, too, I brought my brother’s DSLR camera and met the Antigi brothers. I was walking by the street with a camera and they called me, inviting me to take a picture with them. Later, I asked if I can video them in the interview while peeling garlic. They said yes and this is how they specially became part of the documentary.


The rest of the video came about with the help of other Smokey Tours volunteers. Andor Smit and Natsuko Watanabe are of different nationalities. He is a Dutch and she is a Japanese, but they came about and tried fixing up the Community library. A group of college students conducting research also wanted to interview/survey the residents there. So, a special tour was made on 22 October 2018.


Nympha this time spoke in English during the tour. It was the final tour and I tried my best to get most of the shots, trying to cover everything. One of the college students also wanted to take a picture, but it was prohibited because we were making a documentary. Instead I gave her my extra camera that I brought with me, a GoPro. She helped me take those wide angled shots. She was glad, I think. I’m entirely sure, because one of the students slipped out and went away with her boyfriend without permission. We had to look over for her in fear of her safety. We went to the Barangay, and the police got involved too. I got so tired and stressed that I did not feel well. It was draining and disheartening but I said to myself that things like this make life colorful. In spite of the hardships in life, at least I’m not bored and that making this documentary was worth it. I am helping people.

Andor also once asked me why I wouldn’t be the tour leader instead. I replied no, I don’t want to. I don’t think I am too ugly or too fat, but I told him that I don’t want to be in front of the camera and that I did not want to be a spokesperson of people or a community of whose lives I do not comprehensively know. I want to respect their privacy and their personal lives. They know best what it is like and I want to give them the opportunity that they don’t generously get in their lifetime, that is to have a voice. I want to create a chance where these people can be heard and move people, and that I am just contented to be in the sidelines. Most importantly, this documentary is after all about the people and not me, so it is more proper that the spotlight be theirs.


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