Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — A blue, mini gas tank with a cooking dock sits on the corner of Taks Barbin’s living room. He turns the knob, put a water-filled kettle on top of the dock, and opens foldable plastic chairs, forming a circle. This living room is a modest extension of his bedroom; a space that makes up a part of the interconnected shanties that snake around one of UP Diliman’s side streets.
“Karamihan [ang] tawag dito ‘infoshop,’ a place na pwede kang mag-share ng information,” says Barbin while pointing towards the other side of his living room — a corner neatly crammed with worn-out books, original and photocopied zines, and indigenous musical instruments. The wooden sign above this corner reads “Safehouse Infoshop,” with the capital letter ‘A’ enclosed in an illustration of a detonating bomb.
Barbin, a student of UP’s Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino program, pours the hot water to two brown mugs and gives the other one to Bas Umali, a long-haired Uber driver dressed in a T-shirt with the words “In Defense of Autonomy” running across it. Bas, like Taks, also runs his own ‘infoshop,’ called Onsite, headquartered in the slums of Muntinlupa where they publish zines that discuss the solutions to the rampant flood in the area.