Payatas

more commonly known as one of the country’s major dumpsite is home to over 120,000 kids who do not eat regularly. some even engage in “pagpag” practices eating leftover food in the 6.1 hectare dumpsite.

During my stay I learned Payatas was built on a landfill, and that junk shops are an integral part of the local economy. inside the shops holds a energy thriving with activity. piled high with bulging waste waiting to be purchased and processed to make transactions for consumption.

Credit: south china morning post

Shops pay 6 pesos or (10 US cents) per kilogram of waste. a team is then paid to pull out the waste and strip it. the waste is then sold for 18 pesos per kilogram. the PagPag is cleaned thoroughly to remove the smell. they then boil it or fry it where children will later eat it. other scraps such as chicken and pork deemed edible are set aside to be washed, cooked and sold in the neighborhood. that is PagPag “shake off the dirt” in Tagalog. discarded food “fit” for the hungry mouths in the slums of Payatas.

Scavengers can earn 250 pesos (US $5) a day depending on the volume of waste. Payatas takes it’s name from the phrase payat sa taas (“thin at the top”) because the soil is no good for rice crops. it is a community scarred by generations of hardship and struggle.

Lupang Pangako

I walked to a closed off area in Payatas known as Lupang Pangako or “promised land” the manager in the baranguy told me the story about a landslide of rubbish that took the lives of over 200 people. she stated the death toll was more than likely a higher number of men, women, and children consumed by the rubbish they scavenged to survive. the promised land where combustible substances within the rubbish would erupt unpredictably into geysers of flame it was shut down with untold hundreds buried below.

The Reality

According to Cristopher Sabal, a senior technical officer at the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). PagPag consumption is merely one expression of a multifaceted problem. ” A lot of our urban settlers are living near these dumpsites in informal settlements.” he says ” they are living in the most vulnerable areas, the danger zones. they don’t have access to livelihoods which would support them… enough to purchase the food requirements for the family that’s the reality”

” You cannot see the bacteria, you cannot see how dirty the food is just by looking at it” Sabal says ” PagPag is not nutritious… we can definitely say it has an impact in the stunting of growth in children. aside from that they would be at risk of acquiring critical diseases like Hepatitis A, Cholera, Typhoid”.

Promised Land

The dangers that I heard about in Payatas did not persuade me to stop what I came to Accomplish. it moved me and put me in a different perspective the land is said to be infernal, but the smiles of those children and the warm welcome during my arrival, showed me that the land definitely produced something and on that day I seen that there is hope to truly see a promised land thriving with healthy children.

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