Water, water everywhere: The irony of Artex

A community surrounded by water.

So you have that in Metro Manila. We have those in Cambodia, too. In our university, we also produced a documentary about Cambodian families living in floating houses.

When we learned about Artex through a photo essay published in Rappler, we immediately wanted to visit it. We wanted to make a documentary about it, too.

We got lost during our first trip, but it was fascinating. The next day, we tried looking for Artex again. We rode the MRT to North Avenue, then took a jeepney to Monumento.

We then found ourselves in the middle of nowhere.

We asked people on the street for directions. We walked for a bit, then decided to take another jeepney. We asked the driver to take us to Artex, but he didn’t know the place. Fortunately, a woman overheard us and offered to help us.

“Are you going to Artex Compound?” the woman asked. She lives nearby Artex, she said.

We arrived late in the afternoon. The woman then offered to be our interpreter. It was a lucky day, we guessed.

We talked to the locals and the barangay officials and explained why we were there. We then rode a boat rowed by an old woman named Corazon. We talked about her life inside the compound, and we were moved.

The next day, we visited Corazon and her family. She was friendly and kind. She took us on her boat, and showed us how her usual day goes.

We encountered some problems too during our shoot. We had some misunderstanding with a local organization supporting the community. They declined our request for an interview. We had to show them our documents, too, including our passports.

Our intentions for making the documentary were questioned.

“Why do you want to produce this documentary?” they asked.

We told them we want to make the voices from this community even louder, we want the world to hear them through social media. We especially want Filipinos to know and understand the situation and problems of their fellow Filipinos here in Artex.

In Cambodia, we face the same problems – the lack of sanitation and clean water, especially in the floating villages located in the Tonle Sap river.

We hope that this documentary can inspire people to discuss these problems, and most importantly, to take action. We hope that our short video can contribute something to Filipino society.

When the organization listened to us, they finally agreed to do the interview.

After the shoot, we had to edit the video ourselves. It was not that easy since the interviews were conducted in Filipino.

This documentary, the Waterworld of Artex, is close to our hearts. We really hope that it leaves an impact on you, as much as it did on us.

Photo: A view  of Artex Compound from a tower. © Tep Chansophea

This article was originally published on Rappler.

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