Bunso (The Youngest)

Bunso (The Youngest) (Philippines/United Kingdom, 2004, Directors: Ditsi Carolino, Nana Buxani, 64 minutes): Tony is 13, Diosel and Bunso are 11. They are in prison for stealing. All around them are hundreds of other inmates, both minors and adults. The directors had unprecedented access to one of Manila’s prisons where the population are pretty much left to their own devices. Guards are rarely seen, and there are few private cells. Instead, the prisoners seem to feed, clothe and shelter themselves. The children are nominally part of the “Minor’s Ward”, but with over 150 crowded into one room, and exposed to the elements, many of them find somewhere else to sleep. Though violence and rape are only hinted at, it’s clear these tiny boys are in danger. A few of the adult inmates try to protect them, but wonder where their parents are. In many cases, the parents forced the kids onto the street in the first place, where many of them begged or stole out of hunger. For some, prison may actually be safer.

The filmmakers were working with UNICEF to document conditions in support of an overhaul of the juvenile justice system in the Philippines. The law has been ready since 1997, but getting any action from politicians has taken this long. There are signs that it might not be too much longer before children this young are spared the horrors of an adult prison. Unfortunately, it’s too late for those who have become hardened by their prison experience and end up back on the street to sniff glue and get into trouble with the law again.


9 thoughts on “Bunso (The Youngest)”

  1. Bunso is the best docu I’ve ever seen in my life so far. However, I’ve seen not many films of his genre. Despite that I love Nana Buxani & felt so inspiring after watching. I felt moved & seriously engaged emotionally. Powerful visuals. Great story telling.

  2. CNN news today was showing the horror of 20,000 children in Philippino jails. Father Shay Cullen of PREDA, (Angeles City) was helping them.
    Maybe CNN would like to have a copy of BUNSO, (which I have seen, and think its a brilliant but shocking documentary)
    How can ordinary people help this cause? There is an international law which forbids children in jail, and here we have a report of a little girl as young as 5, being in jail.
    Its horrendous.
    Blessings, Judy Curran. Bgo.

  3. Dear Ms Curran

    I agree that Bunso is also the best documentary I’ve ever seen too. During my meeting with Ms Ditsi Carolino, I discovered that CNN, ABS-CBN, ITV/BBC and others attended a private screening and it was only after their their screening that CNN, ITV/BBC, ABS-CBN and others filmed their own style of BUNSO…

  4. i really like the docu film bunso and really appreciate the moral of the film i even get a chance to meet DIOCEL, it’s a great experience.exchanging jokes with an international star hehehe. i miss him so much, he is the bunso of the group…a thoughtful bunso of mine.

  5. I really want to see the docu…. Can you help me please? Where can i find a copy of it? I’m still a student and I I want to make my own docu someday….

  6. this documentray really touches everyone who watched this… it really made me cry!! so sad that this is the face of the jail in our country.. hope the government will work for this.

  7. we watched this documentary and we are assigned make a term paper out of it. so far, the story is very sad and you can really understand what where the of prisons in manila. . .

  8. this vidoe is good coz filipinos or people will realize what is the danger or what is the real life in jail..

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