How do I find the meeting point of the Slum Tour?
The meeting point of this tour is in front of Jolibee Tayuman near the LRT-1 Tayuman Station (southbound). If you get a little late for the meeting time (not more than 20 minutees), the tour leader could be upstairs on the 2nd floor giving introduction to guests. Please take note that the tour leader can leave earlier if the confirmed participants have already arrived.
How long will it take to get to the meeting point from Makati/Malate/Ermita/Global City/Pasig City/Eastwood?
The meeting point should be 25-35 minutes from Malate area via taxi and could be shorted as there are more road options. Taking the LRT-1 from UN Avenue/Pedro Gil/Malate stations (northbound) could take 15-20 minutes not including time to get into the train.
For Makati, please allot more time. It could be as short as 25 minutes on some days (Sundays and holidays) but could be as long as 45 minutes to an hour or more if traffic is heavy. Please take note that getting a taxi in Makati in the morning could be difficult in the mornings of work days.
For Global City (Taguig/For Bonifacio), Pasig City and Eastwood, allot 1,5 hours of travel time.
Will we visit Smokey Mountain? Is this also the Smokey Mountain Tour?
Regarding the Smokey Mountain, we have already replaced this with our new Slum Tour because the Smokey Mountain area was seized and closed by the government for public visits last June 2014. We still tell you about the story of the two Smokey Mountains during our tour.
Is the Slum Tour run on bicycles?
The Slum Tour doesn't run on bicycles. It is a walking tour that also uses public transportation (jeepney, pedicabs and tricycles) to get into areas.
What will I see in the slum area?
The main businesses in the slums are recycling and scavenging. You see how the people live their lives from these industries and others.
We will also pass through the narrow alleys of the residential areas, where you really get a feel of how the people are living and you see the sense of community that exists in the area.
Is the slum dangerous?
Although we cannot take responsibility should anything happen, we believe that the area is safe as long as you follow the tour leader and the rules. There is a strong police presence in the area and we have written permission from each area/baranggay (local community) we pass during the Slum Tour.
Is it appropriate to bring small children on the tour?
Visiting the slums may not be suitable for some children especially with the heat and the cleanliness conditions. We require children to be at least 6 years old when they take the tour as some areas could be very slippery if very young children are allowed to walk on their own. We also recommend children get shots/vaccine before taking the tour for further health safety.
Why can we not bring cameras on the Slum Tour?
We like to go into the slum area and be as inconspicuous as possible. We do this by having small groups and by not allowing cameras. We have a strict NO CAMERA policy as an agreement with the baranggays (local communities) that we visit. Media and writers who were able to take pictures didn't join group tours and they requested their own permit from the baranggays.
Is it appropriate to bring small children on the tour?
We see no problem with bringing children of any age on the tour.
I don't like going on organized tours. Is it possible to visit the slum area on my own?
It would be a little uncomfortable going by yourself, particularly without the written permission of the baranggay (local community) which we have obtained. Although the residents are very friendly, they might be a bit concerned at what you are doing and might report you.The area is like a maze and you will not gain the same insight as with one of our tour leaders. Not all slums have the same character. Some slums could be very peaceful and welcoming, but some might be very dangerous to visit even for locals without someone from that slum accompanying them.
How does Smokey Tours give back to the community?
Smokey Tours gives 100% of its profits from the Slum Tour (minus the tour allowance for the tour leader and the transportation costs) to a beneficiary NGO that supports that community in different ways (medical assistance/check-ups, child education sponsorsship, livelihood training, medical training, disaster relief, organization of centers in the slums). You could check the page about our new beneficiary NGO. We also support some local livelihood especially the pedicabs and tricycles and all our tour leaders are from the different areas covered by the tour.
Can I bring something for the children? Should I give money to the people living there?
We ask you not to give anything to individuals, either for the children or adults. This is to avoid unwanted attention as well as the bad feeling of others if they don't get any from you. However if you would like to bring stationery or sweets, then we can distribute them to a suitable NGO in the area.
Is there any other way that I can help the people in the slums?
Helping the people or families in the slums by giving them money directly may not be the best thing to do as this can cause unwanted attention and bad feelings for those people who may not get the help. You may check with the NGO visited during the tour and see how you can help either by donating to them or volunteering for them if you have more time in Manila!