Cousins and cousins and cousins and cousins

Philippines 046, originally uploaded by paulmonster.

I'm ashamed I don't even know all the names.

But for starters.

The Grandmother holding me called me 'guapo' (handsome) (yeah, you know it ladies) and 'gordo' (big) (ahem).

The children wouldn't stop staring at me, until I looked at them. There are more outside the door.

When this picture was taken, I was in some shock, as this was perhaps my 16th straight hour awake, and there were many more to come. Me and two of my elder cousins were about to take an overnight bus north from Manila to La Union province, to see the Jimenez properties (see The Lawyer below). This was the first time many of these younger people had seen me, their Manang (elder). Even my elders hadn't seen me since I was 12.

I'd just been looking through old, precious family photographs, meeting the images of Uncles I'd barely known. Tracing the trajectory of their slender, florid lives in black-and-white, crumbling, greasy old snapshots, kept in crumbling, greasy albums that have the texture and patina of sacred relics. Indeed, they are almost the only relics the Jimenez family has of their past prosperity. These cousins live in the tiny space bounded by the walls you see in this photo, plus a few small adjoining rooms, none of them larger than half the area you see. And yet, they are lucky for their part of the Manila slums they live in.

More soon.

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