Manila Vice: Ain’t ​No Hollow Block Girl

Photographer: Ralph Mendoza

Model: Chanel Thomas

Wardrobe Stylist/Prop: Katrina Guevara

Make-Up Assistant: Celest Lavina


Photographer Ralph Mendoza and I squeezed in one last test shoot during my recent trip to Manila.

Since I am still analytical about the social divide, as seen in Filipino soap operas, I wanted a reenactment of scenes from everyday life.

Every aspect and ratio can be found throughout the 12 million inhabitants in Metro Manila. It’s picture perfect.

A food vendor rolls out his cart to serve fried fish balls and quail eggs with dipping sauces. A foreign businessman waits for his contracted cab ride in a pristine area. Meanwhile, a taxi driver rejects a passenger because it’s rush hour. An ambulance with whining sirens attempts to pass through traffic. The person inside, well is there even a human inside? A woman arrives fashionably late to the city from the province in order to find work and provide for her family, whatever it may be.

New life is not so simple for everyone.

The promdi woman goes with the flow for now.  She unintentionally rides in style when taking a tricycle with a fake LV monogrammed seat to SM. She lacks street smarts. She has no taste. She has no money. However, her clothing has a kitsch quality to it. If she’s not color blocking, she’s monochromatic or sheer. Otherwise, she’s just doing her laundry. She’ll even pursue a career in housework, but she will not be a hollow block girl.

– Katrina Cayton Guevara
























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