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Every Human Has Rights

A Greater


After years of documenting a community of people living in the North Cemetery in Manila—many of whom we now consider friends—James and I are ready to finalize production of a 30-minute documentary that will expand on the initial multimedia story, released in 2008, for which we were presented an Every Human Has Rights Media Award. This longer-form documentary will explore issues affecting Metro Manila, such as dense population and intense poverty, from the perspective of residents of the North Cemetery. We are thrilled to announce that, a curated crowd funding site for visual journalism, has chosen to feature and promote this project for funding. For the first time in the four years we've been working on this film and photography project, we'd like to ask you to be a part of it by either helping us fund it or by simply spreading the word.

Our funding goal, which will cover only hard costs of travel and production, is $5,050.  We will not receive any funding or pledges unless we reach our goal. In addition, funding at the most basic level ($10) admits each backer into the “making-of-zone,” where we will share the ups and downs, challenges and insights we gain as we complete filming in the cemetery throughout post-production.  Higher levels of backing earn this, plus rewards such as original postcards and prints from the project, all the way up to a personal multimedia workshop from James and myself.

Living with the Dead: The Backdrop

Manila, Philippines is the most densely populated city in the world. Danica May Comacho was born here on October 31st, 2011. The UN symbolically named her the “seven-billionth” human to join our current world population.

Filipinos from rural provinces often migrate to the city in search of a better life. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning, stating that: “continued population growth in Metro Manila will have ‘damaging consequences for human health,’ particularly for the poor as it increases poverty, diseases and natural disasters.”  The WHO estimates that over 20% of Metro Manila's population is either under or near the poverty line, with 35% living in urban slums.

In the center of this complex and intense capital lies the sprawling North Cemetery, where many past presidents, actors and actresses are buried. In contrast to intense traffic and noise just outside the cemetery walls, the North Cemetery is quiet and peaceful. Here, a community of around 2,000 people live, work, raise children and sleep, participating in the unique economy that accompanies the up to 80 Catholic burials which take place here each day.

Residents here tell us they prefer the cemetery to the streets, and indeed, some residents prosper greatly in the cemetery economy, earning enough money to send their children to private school.

Anticipated Outcome and Goals

Our documentary will look at current issues facing our planet from the perspective of three families living inside the cemetery, such as population growth, poverty, human rights, access to family planning, affordable housing and education.

Our goal is to educate and engage a broad audience with these larger issues, through the eyes, lives and hopes of the children and families who call the North Cemetery home.

We deeply appreciate your consideration to help us fund this project! Many, many thanks to those of you that already have.

Support the project, here: Living with the Dead (via

Jessica Chance