In this picture blog, Jennifer McArthur explores the Barangays of the Philippines and finds passion for basketball, a thriving CBD and a lot of traffic.

Gridlock: traffic at a stand still in Manila

Gridlock. Congestion is a serious problem in Manila, which not only creates lengthy daily commutes but also contributes to poor air quality for pedestrians. Travellers are advised to leave for the airport more than four hours before their check-in because potential traffic jams can unexpectedly, and very frustratingly, add hours to the journey.

Water pipe in Barangay 836

This utility pipe in Barangay 836 has been supplying water to the community since 1965 revealing a chronic lack of investment in water and sanitation infrastructures.

A ‘Barangay’, the native Filipino word for village or ward, is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines. Borders the banks of the Pasig River, Barangay 836 is made up of a labyrinth of winding narrow streets where you will find densely packed low-rise buildings made up of a mixture of houses, shops, a school, healthcare facilities (including a morgue), a church, recycling plant and more.

This railway line marks the border of Barangay 836 and Barangay 838

This railway line marks the border of Barangay 836 and Barangay 838. Due to the very busy roads and bumper-to-bumper congestion in Manila this can be quickest way to travel. Locals can be seen using hand pumped rail carts both for travel and the transportation of goods.

Parked scooters block the pavement in Manila

It is not just the roads that are gridlocked in Manila, the pavements can be hazardously gridlocked too. Despite intervention from local authorities, and the threat of clamping, the pavement is almost completely blocked by parked mopeds which can force pedestrians to walk on the very busy roads.

Left: affluent, privately built student accommodation Right: poorly built social housing

Across the river from barangay 836 lies and affluent area dominated by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. The white building is privately built student accommodation and the yellow building to the right is public-sector built social housing.

This social housing block has replaced an informal settlement which used to be on the banks of the river, but the government cleared their land and relocated them to the high-rise apartments even though many of the community would rather have stayed in the informal settlement.

A man nail-bitingly travels between buildings in Barangay 898

Barangay 898 Jamie Cardinal Sin Village is very different to Barangay 836 and even though they are geographically close, the makeup and structure of these  neighbourhoods are entirely different.

In Jamie Cardinal Sin Village it is a huge multi-storey building with multiple apartments and shops at ground level, rather than low-rise structures, that dominates the neighbourhood.

The building appeared in poor condition. The lift had been broken for some time so there was no way to get between buildings which has led some residents to take dangerous risks to quickly move between the buildings.

Pharmacy in Batangas City

This pharmacy in Batangas City, found next to the neighbourhood’s administrative office, is subsidised by the state. Medicine can be expensive, but subsidised healthcare makes sure that all residents, no matter their income, can get access to the medicines they need.

A Jeepny in Batangas City

The jeepney is found on every street across all Filipino cities and it is the main mode of public transport. Each jeepney looks different and follows a short pre-determined route. Restored American army jeeps from World War II, jeepneys have been brought back to life in their new public transport role, but they can be very hot inside due to lack of ventilation and the fumes can be suffocating.

Basketball court in Barangay 836

Basketball is prolific in the Philippines. In every neighbourhood, from informal settlements to gated communities, you are sure to find a basketball court. Underneath the hoop of this court in Barangay 836 is the local neighbourhood church and just to the right, out of sight, are apartments and convenience shops have courtside seats.

This court in ‘Barangay 836’ is across the street from the School and is locked until after school to discourage skipping school to play basketball.

Boat in the Santa Clara Barangay in Batangas City

Santa Clara Barangay in Batangas city is found right on the coast. There are lots of small, traditional fishing boats that provide daily income for many of the locals. With no running water or adequate waste facilities, the sea provides a daily bath and the small beach has become a dump for rubbish.

Manila's thriving CBD

The Central Business District of Manila is booming. Located close to the port, this neighbourhood is seeing rapid high-quality construction work.