TONDO is a film about four people living in the seams of Manila’s busiest global port. The four are unknown to each other but, gradually, they become woven by the same fate.
Anne is in the middle of uncertainty. Six weeks before birthing and her husband is still trying to find work. Every day at dusk, she lights up the gas lamp, waiting for her husband to come home with good news. Akira works at the coal ovens for a living, packing coals and gathering scrap nails. At 12, he could barely read and write. Deep into the night when all work is done, he gathers with his cousins and altogether, they conduct lessons like a school of their own.
Eddie lives across the container terminal where he has worked the night shift for 28 years. His ageing body directs the weight of container vans being unloaded from ships coming from abroad. When morning comes, he goes home and entertains himself to sleep with his broken TV, only to wake up again for another night’s work. Emelita recites prayers before her husband’s coffin, defeated by the noise of the passing trucks right in front of her house.
One day, Paning – Anne’s midwife – starts to sense panic. She witnesses government personnel measuring the neighborhood and receives a notice from the Housing Authority. Soon, a system of meetings and evictions directed by government agencies unfolds. They will be relocated outside the city, while the area where they live will be part of a bigger road for container trucks.
Meanwhile, Anne’s newborn comes out to a world with a complex story before her. Out into the alleys, the child’s sharp cry is drowned by the sharper noise of people with torn down homes, trying to rebuild a wall and a roof from what is left.