15 Amazing Stories Told Through Humans of Metro Manila

Meet Emil Tapnio, producer and curator of this local iteration.
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

"With #HumansOfMetroManila posts, I intended for people to look beyond their personal bubble and make them understand that everyone has their own triumphs, challenges, and struggles."

Humans of New York has touched many hearts by letting us in on simple, unexpectedly profound encounters with everyday people on the streets of New York (and, later, all over the world). There have been many attempted tributes, but in the Philippines, development worker Emil Tapnio’s #HumansOfMetroManila Instagram passion project stands out.

Tapnio posts portraits of Filipinos from every walk of life, from CEOs and celebrities to workingmen and artists, coupled with a quote from impromptu interviews he conducts. The project has yielded poignant stories from people like Wilson, a lonely construction worker from Ortigas:

He’s also featured Silicon Valley-based millionaire entrepreneur Dado Banatao, founder of the PhilDev Foundation, who spoke about his wife: 


The project began as a way for Tapnio to urge people to look outward and notice the world around them. “Most people on social media post selfies as self-expression. With #HumansOfMetroManila posts, I intended for people to look beyond their personal bubble and make them understand that everyone has their own triumphs, challenges, and struggles,” Tapnio says.


“Over time, my posts became more random—I guess that’s the beauty of it. I don’t really plan what to post. Sometimes, I [feature] famous people, sometimes random strangers I meet on the street. I don’t focus on what they do for work, but I talk to them about their current state of mind.”

With over 200 posts in the series, Tapnio says that he’s been thinking of collecting the stories in a book. There have even been offers from agencies to sponsor an exhibit. In the meantime, he’s donated some of the images for use by NGOs for use in their campaigns. For now, however, the photos are all found under Tapnio’s personal Instagram account @emiltapnio, and may be viewed using the hashtags #HumansOfMetroManila #Taumbayan #TaoSaKanto.


About The Author
Kristine Fonacier
Editor-in-Chief of Esquire Philippines
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