The idea of making a slum tour started with San Martin volunteer Juliette Kwee. A photo shoot was organized in the slums in September 2011 (the Filibata Art Walk) and an exhibition was organized sponsored by Filibata and Sining Kamalig Art Gallery. The exhibition attempted to break the preconceived notions about those children who live in one of the poorest areas of Metro Manila. A volunteer group of amateur and professional photographers documented these children playing.
Following the success of the Art Walk, including seeing the talent of potential tourleaders in the area, and having seen the success of slum tours in India and Brazil, Juliette decided to start a similar tour in October 2011. The Smokey Mountain Tour was born, the idea being to educate the outside world about slums as well as to raise money for San Martin to help the community.
Volunteers have assisted with the development of the tour. Helene De Coster helped with the tourleader training and route. Chris Way from Reality Tours and Travel came to Manila with the goal of using knowledge gained running similar slum tours in Mumbai to look at all aspects of the tour.
This tour is organized to provide livelihood for the local tour leaders in Tondo Manila. The tour leaders improve their English proficiency, learn guiding and leadership skills. From this tour, the local economy in Sitio Damayan will benefit. The Smokey Mountain Tour through the slums of Manila was the most flagship tour of Smoket Tours, but was discontinued in June 2014. Taking its place is the Slum Tour around the area near Smokey Mountain.
Tondo, Manila.Specifics about cost, in- & excluded:
Check the website
for bookings, prices and more information.Timeframe:
The tour takes 1.5 hours. Tours are cancelled when there's heavy rainfall.What to bring:
Wear old clothes, umbrella and sunblock can be useful. Please do not bring your valuables. Taking photos is not allowed.
'The tour involved walking around the neighborhood of Smokey and its ulingan (charcoal-making area), passing by garbage dumps and houses in between. It definitely wasn't enjoyable, but it was meaningful and insightful. Nympha, our tour leader, took us around while explaining a bit about the history and current conditions of the area. Security was never an issue, as people there were very friendly. The kids were especially eager to greet strangers. We recommend this to people who would want to gain a deeper understanding of one of Manila's poorest neighborhoods—how people get by, and how others can help. Smokey Tours is doing a great job at raising awareness and support for their program.'