Thursday, April 24, 2014

Smokey Mountain Tour: Exploring Manila's Biggest Slum Area

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Life in a third world country is terribly bad if you're among the poorest of the poor. Imagine having to live in the dumps of the Metro and surviving on extremely below minimum wage earnings. I cannot fathom how an individual can manage to live in a forsaken surrounding more dreadful than an informal settler's area. With heaps of dirty and disgusting trash, and a smell that can intoxicate and make you vomit, you couldn't stomach the suffering one has to endure just to survive Manila's largest landfill and mountain of garbage.

For the residents of Smokey Mountain, life must go on amidst the sickening dirt and the foul smell. They have very little choice, so they cannot afford to be choosy. Resources are too rare to worry about looking for a cleaner and safer neighborhood. They have to make do of what is available. They have to make ends meet in order to make it throughout the day. Even if majority of the Filipinos are in a deplorable state of "isang kahig, isang tuka", noone can beat the Filipino resilience.

Sometimes, it pains me to realize we may have been too resilient that we made very little effort to change our mindset. I know we deserve more than what we are getting right now, and I know our government should intensify their efforts to enrich the lives of the Filipinos. The thought of hearing from the news of how our taxes were spent irregularly in lavishly wrong ways, that benefited only the few, makes me want to shout out for blood.

Meetup at a fastfood restaurant
Our group was composed of Filipinos and foreigners all interested in taking a closer look at the inner depths of the Smokey Mountain neighborhood.

Join us as we show you around on a tour of Smokey Mountain located at Tondo, Manila here in the Philippines. It was called Smokey Mountain because it's literally a mountain where smoke can be regularly seen from afar because of garbage burning and the charcoal making production.

We will be traveling using traditional means by just using tricycles and mostly walking under the scorching heat of the sun. Remy, our tour guide, is here to guide as along the way. It's bound to be a very educational tour.

Our rides to Smokey Mountain with our tour guide

On our way to Tondo where Smokey Mountain is located
Entering the slums
Walking on a road of garbage

Trash everywhere you step on
A diseased stray dog roams the streets of garbage

Residents live among large dump trucks parked nearby

More dump trucks can be found almost everywhere

A resident segregating the trash
 The residents here have two main sources of income. One is by selling the recyclable materials that they were able to find among teh garbage like plastics, metal, foam, copper coils, etc... and the other is by charcoal making where they turn scrapped wood into charcoal.

Children play among the garbage

A resident prepares dirty plastics for washing to be recycled

Old bed foams being collected for selling to be recycled by the buyers

If you look closer, there's a lady in the middle organizing the garbage

Going deep within the neighborhood

The view from inside would remain to be more garbage and dump trucks
Children greet us with smiles for our cameras

It was summer break so there was no school during the time we visited the place. The parents usually get some meager help from the government with an agreement to send their children to school in exchange of a few pesos from the government given regularly to provide for some of the school expenses.

Before the government project, the people are more concerned on buying their food rather than use the very little money they are earning to provide for their children's studies.

The barangay chapel

A Day Care Center

Another Day Care Center at Smokey Mountain
Yet another Day Care Center within the neighborhood
Though there are a few Day Care Centers around the neighborhood of Smokey Mountain, the funding they have is still not enough to provide for the needs of the people since there are numerous children living in the area.
The barangay hall of Sitio Damayan
One of the favorite pastimes of the youth of Smokey Mountain
Basketball is the most favorite sport of Filipinos because you can play the ball game almost anywhere that there is room to hang the ring, dribble and shoot. You can also make improvised rings using anything from the garbage.

I think I saw more than three areas where they have basketball courts

Watching Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao fight on TV
Rest time before continuing with the tour
Visiting the charcoal production area
Adult and child work on the charcoal making
Charcoal making was only recently added as a livelihood but it poses health dangers to the people working  and living nearby. Too much exposure to smoke leads to all kinds of respiratory diseases like tubercolosis.

Charcoals being packed
Entering the Manila Bay area
Residents, mostly children, take a swim at the dirty and polluted waters

Young children take a dive unafraid of the dangers on health

Children both young and old enjoying the swim amidst the hot summer
It has been forbidden to swim in the waters of Manila Bay because it was found to be contaminated with different kinds of bacteria brought about by too much garbage floating in its waters. However, it seems nobody can stop the residents from enjoying this very little way of refreshing themselves from the summer heat.
A visit at Aling Consuelo's for some original halo-halo

Waiting for our Halo-Halo

Had some refreshing Halo-Halo to beat the summer heat
Halo-halo is a long-time traditional favorite containing a mixture of several ingredients like ube (purple yam), leche plan, sweetened banana, beans, sweet potato, langka (jackfruit), buko (coconut strips), etc.,  with plenty of shaved ice and milk.

Me and our tour guide, Remy
If you really want to get a glimpse of how our brothers and sisters are facing each day with empty stomachs but still amazingly with smiles in their faces, join the Smokey Mountain Tour run by Smokey Tours.

The tour is composed of activities like visiting the charcoal making area, observing the dump area where scavengers hunt for worthwhile objects like plastic bottles, metal, and others that they could sell, learn some facts on how NGOs work and their activities, and get to meet the residents themselves as you go deep within the neighborhood.

They have regular tours you can join ,or you can form a group and the organizers will schedule a tour for you.

Regular meetup is at outside the entrance to Jollibee fast food restaurant at around 9:30 am. This is located by the entrance (West side) of Tayuman LRT-1, on the corner of Tayuman Road and Rizal Avenue.

More information can be found here:

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  1. Only the White people can lead these brown losers out of the trash heap of their lives.

  2. after all you've seen here today all you can think of is a racial insult?

  3. It was called Smokey Mountain because it's literally a mountain where smoke can be regularly seen from afar because of garbage burning and the charcoal making production. best garbage disposals 2018

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