Selected Project keyboard_arrow_right A Dying Business
Chona M
Production Status
Date of Completion
Participating Lab
Storytelling Lab
As numbers of killings rise amidst Manila's drug war, an undertaker is torn between putting his funeral business first or helping impoverished families who have fallen victim.
Production Company
A Dying Business
Mang Orly is an undertaker in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Manila.

When we meet him, he is wearing his signature white fedora hat in a dimly lit room. A woman in her 30s is wailing and haggling with him over the release of her son’s body.

This scene is all too familiar to Mang Orly: another night, another body, another family who cannot afford his services.

Since Duterte was elected and a war on drugs was declared, business has surged. Speculations that mortuaries and funeral homes are making a lot of money from this crackdown have become rife.

But at the back of Mang Orly’s morgue, the bodies pile up and he’s running out of ideas on how to keep them or dispose of them.

This is the new reality in Manila. Since most of the victims are from the poorest areas, their families typically cannot afford the funeral expenses. The others, who probably can, are too afraid to claim the bodies thinking they would be next.

In this film, we take a close look into Mang Orly’s life as an undertaker, capturing his struggles with running a funeral business at the height of the government’s drug war and his attempts to help his neighbors who have fallen victim.

We watch how prices and options are decided with grieving families, how the bodies to be collected are closer to home, and ultimately, how an ugly business becomes uglier.