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This new documentary book Mysterious Happiness illustrates how some of us find happiness even when living under the most difficult conditions.

The promise or presence of happiness is the only comfort for some people living in the streets of Happyland, Aroma, Smokey Mountain and other slums of Metro Manila, Philippines. There, in those destitute neighborhoods and towns, the poorest of the poor live in substandard conditions that can be seen as only miserable. Yet these people teach us about human resilience and the ability to find moments of joy.

The real-life stories of Fr. Matthieu Dauchez, Executive Director of the ANAK-TNK Foundation, speak to the heart and mind together with the candid photographs.  Mathias Heng’s reportage images present the presence of happiness but also raises awareness of the extreme conditions. Anna Bärlund’s black and white portraits acknowledge the people of the Manila slums for their qualities and the thing that unites us as human beings, to love and be loved, showing the heart gesture and the universal beauty of humanity.

We can all learn from the approach to life – and the pursuit of happiness – undertaken by people living in the most marginalized and underdeveloped parts of Manila via channels of hope, forgiveness, perseverance, neighborliness and small deeds of love.


Price is in US dollars.

Mysterious Happiness

    • On location Happyland, Aroma, Smokey Mountain and other extremely poor areas in Metro Manila, Philippines, including some of the streets
    • Real-life stories of Fr. Matthieu Dauchez, Executive Director of the ANAK-TNK Foundation 
    • Photographs by Mathias Heng and Anna Bärlund
    • Foreword by Former President of the Philippines Fidel V. Ramos
    • Publication 2017
    • Hard cover packed in transparent plastic
    • Color and black and white images 
    • Book size 30x30 cm
    • ISBN 978-0-6480688-0-8
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