Photographer captures the plight of Manila’s street children

In 1998 a survey titled Situation of the Youth in the Philippines found that there were approximately 1.5 million Philippino children living on the streets. This shocking statistic attracted the lens of photographer Alan Dejecacion who began documenting the unfortunate urchins.

To be a street child in the Philippines is to face a number of perils. At the very least they face a serious lack of hygiene and poor shelter from the elements, but for many this is just the beginning.

Drugs, child prostitution and gang violence are everyday challenges, leading to high rates of HIV, pregnancy and death among the street children.

For some of these youngsters, the police can be just as dangerous as the gangs. High levels of corruption and a dim social view of the street children mean they are equally vulnerable in custody as out. Children are imprisoned for long periods in appalling conditions and many suffer torture, rape and even execution at the hands of police.

During the ’80s and ’90s, many trafficked street children lead straight to the back alley brothels of Los Angeles, and it may well be that having this injustice on his doorstep is what galvanised Dejecacion to begin his photographic journey.

Dejecacion is a professional photographer based in California. In his photojournalism he seeks to to bring light to the tragic state of affairs on the streets of Manila. Although he began his project Street Life almost two decades ago, little has changed and economic research shows that the levels of street children are largely unchanged.