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The dwarves, a man and a woman dwarf, scuttling forward from the back of a dim bar to drag the customer in. The young prostitute, standing passively in her little frock in front of the paunchy, middle aged, Caucasian man who has called her out from a flock of girls, and the contempt with which he flicks up her skirt at the front to inspect her.
Listless children holding begging hands out to the endless, honking traffic jams in Manila, where the polluted grey concrete pavements of a city of ten million people are what they have for home.
Poverty beyond imagining. A runny nosed, blotchy child, crawling up the slope of a garbage dump, bent under a load of the bits of cardboard his father has collected to build a lean to. They've picked a square foot or so between the plumes of acrid smoke that belch up from where the deep layers of rotting garbage are permanently on fire. If there were anything to eat in the garbage, the terrible dogs, bald with mange, would have got it already. On the verandah of Father Shay Cullen's shelter for children, the pinched, drugged look on the face of a little boy whose mother has hauled him back to ask for another chance there.
This boy, it transpires, was the partner of a little girl called Rosario in sex displays. Rosario was once world famous. She became famous for dying from the effects of having a vibrator break inside her. And outside Manila, on the road to the former "sin city" of Olongapo, where the Subic Bay US Naval Base left a corrupted society behind when; the Marines moved out in , a vision of environmental hell. The landscape, from one moment to the next, is wiped out. When the Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted three years ago it covered fields and trees and houses and churches and every living thing in a sea of mud.
Now there is nothing as far as the horizon but smooth, hardened, grey mud. The people sit out in the grey vastness, under makeshift canopies. Women, babies on their hips, line the road, hoping for a few pence to be thrown through the dust from passing buses. These people have nothing. They have absolutely nothing. Statistics are no more reliable than anything else in this chaotic country.