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Shots ring out from a dilapidated hut in a stinky alley way deep in the slums of Tondo, Manila, simultaneously heard with a loud scream that physically fills the hot humid air. The loud scream pierces through the hut's flimsy roof, flies with the swirling dust, hovers over a group of children scavenging in a high pile of garbage, zooms away, and is swallowed by the thick smog of the city. One of the scavengers, eight year old Jose, lets go of his precious haul of discarded plastic bottles, and sprints home faster than the jeepneys that rule the streets of the metropolis. Panic stricken, he reaches home to find his mother profusely bleeding from a gunshot wound in the head, his three year old sister is bathed in their mother's blood, crawling away from the carnage.

Meanwhile, the scream emerges from the city smog and continues its journey, past the greedy commercial district, over the manicured lawns of the mansions in an exclusive village, passing through the polluted Pasig River and entering the Malacañang Palace, home of the president of the country.

Curious spectators block Jose's way but between his neighbor’s dirty elbows, he can see his mother, still alive and coughing more blood. He can hear his sister's wailing and smell the putrid gun powder mixed with the scent of death. The sickening feeling is familiar. Jose has been here before.

Like a wily rat, Jose darts between the sea of humanity and reaches his mother's side. Screaming profanity at the squadron of policemen that shot his mother, Magdalena. He reaches out to his sister, trying to calm her down. Police officer Roberto Duarte takes charge of the situation and cordons the area. All the curious onlookers are dispersed, doors and windows are closed, and a nosy reporter is kicked out of the shanty.

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