This documentary examines the stultifying poverty that lies beneath what narrator Willem Dafoe calls a "thin veneer of democracy" in the Philippines.
Manila is a city in crisis, as rural migrants flood into the city following the overthrow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos during the "People's Power" revolution of 1986. Hoping to escape the poverty of the countryside and stake a claim on the promise of "People's Power", they build their shanties on whatever land they can find. "Reclamation" is home to 50,000 squatters who have built for themselves a virtual city-within-a-city. Conflict emerges when it is realized that this organized community is located on prime urban land slated for commercial development by foreign investors. After the brutal murder of their leader, the Reclamation squatters must fight to survive.