Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Smokey Mountain: Manila's Divine Comedy

Manila’s dumpsites are not just sites where waste is being dumped. All dumpsites offer means for survival for many people. Payatas in the north of Manila provides ‘survival’ for some 100,000 people. Smoky Mountain (bordering Manila’s port) is smaller but the same inhumanity exists there. Whole families live on the dumpsite all their lives. Father Giovanni Gentilin, a remarkable Italian priest who has been working in Tondo for 18 years, tells us that life expectancy is around 40 years for people living on the dumpsite.

The dumpsite in itself offers a glimpse of Dante Alighieri’s hell. As in Dante’s work, different layers of hell exist but they are all horrifying. Some people have small Sari-Sari stores on Smokey Mountain, others run a videoke machine or a ‘bar’ with a billiard table but most people who live in shacks on the dumpsite earn their living by collecting and selecting rubbish. All live in dirt, sharing the scarce space with millions of flies and armadas of rats and breathing a pestilent, highly toxic air. Father Giovanni calls it the ‘the smell of the politicians’ who are all good Catholics or Christians.

Every day is a fight for survival. Once the waste is being brought in or shifted, hundreds of scavengers fight for getting the best parts of it. Thanks to Father Giovanni’s work, many scavengers now have rubber boots to avoid stepping into sharp metal; he and his supporters run a number of projects to alleviate the burden of such life by offering basic health care and scholarships for the kids.









All photos from Smokey Mountain, Tondo, Metro Manila, October 2007.

If you want to help please visit 'Smokey Children', if you have better and other solutions please let us know and comment.

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15 Comments:

At October 30, 2007 at 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding us of this -- it is so easy to forget. Yet, as always in the Philippines, everyone seems blissfully happy in hell.

 
At October 30, 2007 at 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting! Dante wrote about the hell as after life, but this comedy is happening now and in real time.

 
At October 30, 2007 at 9:41 PM, Blogger brommel said...

Torn: So blissfully true...

21th and reborn Dante: Yeep. Life is so easy when you trust the Catholic Church. No more hell when you confess. Do whatever you want, it's all faith and forgiveness.
What the Church often forgets is that hell on Earth exists.

 
At November 2, 2007 at 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least also joy on the dumpsite

 
At November 4, 2007 at 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOD BESS THE CHILDREN !!! & JANE WALKER AN ANGEL OF THE DUMP !

 
At November 5, 2007 at 8:58 PM, Blogger brommel said...

don't know if God blessed the Children, ano

 
At January 14, 2008 at 11:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are all people on dumps stoned?

 
At February 14, 2008 at 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck you bitches!

 
At February 15, 2008 at 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Torn: Believe me, I've been there one day only, it's impossible to forget that.

To Brommel: Church is already working there!

 
At May 9, 2008 at 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

may i post one of your dumpsite photos on my webpage?

 
At May 12, 2008 at 9:45 PM, Blogger brommel said...

Zen: Sure. No problems with that. A link to brommel would be appreciated.

 
At March 8, 2009 at 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello i saw your pictures and i got shocked by what i saw... not that it gross me out but more because i realised how blessed i am and i never realised that before... im going to philippines soon and i was wandering if you know how to get in touch with Father giovanni gentili?? i would like to try to see it with my own eyes and help out if i can

 
At May 8, 2009 at 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I learned about this im my geography class, and wanted to look into it more, thus came across you blog on google. thank you for the pictures. It is so amazing to see these beautiful people living in trash and running around with the biggest most amazing smile smiles! Wow it sure reminds me of what blessings i have. How sad that here in America we have so much, yet we are still unhappy...hhmmmm...what shoudl that tell us? hmmmm....

 
At May 9, 2009 at 9:18 AM, Blogger brommel said...

much depends on where you are born and that's pure luck. We just have to make the best out of it by also taking into account that others are less fortunate.

Actually, the same applies to people living in slums or on dumpsites. Even in places of misery there are groups much better off than others.

allbest

 
At July 23, 2009 at 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone has to realise these kids only have smiles on there faces because they are kids! Any child at that age smiles. The reality is they grow up to be unhappy adults with a life expectancy of 50. The anwser lies with the Government and international aid from other countries. Both of these will never come and smokey mountain will be the same forever

 

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