“Kami Ang Nagpaunlad”
(We Who Developed The Land)
A Photo Essay on the Locals of Sitio San Roque
The mere mention of the words “Sitio San Roque” brings to mind certain images, each a different mental picture to every person who hears these.
For the greater public, Sitio San Roque, or simply San Roque, a small community along Agham Road, looks like a place mired in controversy.
San Roque first made the headlines in 2010, when residents resisted police and local government enforcers’ attempt to demolish the homes within the neighborhood, to make way for the Quezon City Central Business District — a project that, if completed, will make around 10,000 families (at the time) homeless.
The attempt did not succeed.
Just last year, at the beginning of the global pandemic, San Roque was once again in the news when local police arrested 21 residents for “violations” of the Covid health protocols.
To the ruling elite, San Roque is a blemish in an increasingly modernizing city; but it is also a land brimming with opportunity.
The area the neighborhood occupies — around 37 hectares — can make way for dozens of businesses and skyscrapers, to which the residents will never have access.
It is this richness that draws businessmen and other entrepreneurs to the place.
That is why, even though the 2010 eviction did not push through, countless smaller, pocket demolitions have been going on within the neighborhood.
To activists and advocates, the neighborhood of San Roque stands as a symbol of resistance and collective action against capitalism and state oppression.
All of these are their own interpretations of what the community is and could be.
But to the people living within it, San Roque can only be one thing: It is home.
The significance of San Roque lies not in its conflict, but in the residents themselves: how they have built their lives in and around this community, and how the future of the land rests — not in anybody else’s hands, but theirs.
© Maro B Enriquez, 2021
Disclaimer: This story was originally produced as a requirement for the Diploma in Visual Journalism program of the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University.