Smokey Tour: An Advocacy Tour of Smokey Mountain and How People Earn Their Living

Baranggay 105, Tondo , Manila-Philippines

children happily posing for a group shot

This photo speaks a thousand words. It is not my first time to go to Tondo and mingle with underprivileged people. This time , I joined a tour organized by

We met at a famous fast-food chain restaurant near LRT line 1 Tayuman station. The group are composed of 2 Singaporean, 1 Dutch , 2 European and 3 Filipino freelance writers . We were brief by the local tour guide , who also happened to be a resident of Tondo .

Ate Remy Cabello

They started to conduct a tour in 2011 and went on a full blast in 2012 . There are some local television station which featured their advocacy tours around the city and they are unlike other tours which are more for the tourist rather than advocacy.

Ate Remy Cabello with our tricycle driver

I am also a travel operator and part time tour guide, We almost share a common interest in one thing ” advocacy ” and in helping the community. From Tayuman LRT line 1 station , We rode a tricycle cab going the Baranggay 105 . I rode at the side of the driver and acted as a translator to the 2 Singaporeans who apparently is a writer and one is a photographer in a local magazine and an online site . According to our tricycle driver , He use to be a pedicab driver plying the route around Tondo, but due to recent ordinance amendments , They were forced to convert their pedicabs ( bicycle with side passenger ) into tricycle.

clean and potable water is a big problem for the community

Social Issues

Unlike other tours within the city, The organizers limit the number of participants to just below 10 per tour. There are certain issues that can serve as an eye- opener  for those willing to join the tour , Poverty is everywhere. Water is a precious commodity ( not everyone had a fixed water line )  Plus the fact that water is more expensive compared to fixed water line in residential villages. According to our guide, It is more expensive to lay-out water piles in the area.

a woman segregating garbage

The group saw some children and women separating garbage. Tin cans, electronic parts, coppers. plastic cups, foam , nails , everything that has value can be turned into cash !

bed foams

Years ago, junk shops would reject bed foams and other foam based materials like sofa , chairs and bed. Now ,  junk shops would also collect discarded bed foams to be recycled into new foams.

Pagpag meals for sale

Pagpag are leftover¬† foods from fast-food restaurants scavenged from garbage sites and dumps. The word in the Filipino language literally means to “shake off” , ” shake well ” , ” dusted-off ” or¬† ” table scraps ”¬† which refers to the act of shaking the dirt off of the edible portion of the leftovers. The act of eating pagpag arose from the practical challenges of hunger that resulted from extreme poverty situation.

a store selling pagpag value meal

Pagpag could be eaten on site, or processed further most commonly by frying it in hot oil depending on the condition of the food. Small cottage industries have arisen around pagpag with impoverished people making a living scavenging, collecting, processing, and selling the processed pagpag .

 a kitten sleeping

sari-sari store

We can see that almost everyone in the baranggay had some sort of income generating sources from waste segregation, earning money from pedicab or tricycle driving ,  sari-sari store , etc.. But their income is just barely enough to make both ends meets .

waste segregation facility

This  was proposed waste segregation facility during the time of former Mayor Alfredo  S. Lim.  When we went there, we saw some people burning plastics which is dangerous to the health of the residents.  Nothing had change in the proposed waste segregation facility except the land is cleared with garbage ,  native nipa huts and  barbed wires  which cordoned off the area to the public.

participants wear face mask

When we went to this area, each of us were given face mask. It is very dusty and smoke produced from the charcoal tents / pits continuously burning for 3 days is one of the health issues and environmental issues.

charcoal tents

wood piles reading for burning

Charcoal making is not easy, It take time from gathering old woods from junk shops, demolished homes, woods drifted from sea or fallen woods . It may take days or even weeks just to collect sufficient woods , then it will take 1 to 2 days to pile them at the burning pits .


When the group went to a charcoal pit , we saw some children playing and gathering nails . They all wanted to help their families , they had to get the nails in order to earn additional income.

sacks of charcoal

It may take 2 to 3 days continuous burning just to make charcoal, A care-taker must always be awake during the process any false move can destroy the wood, Then it take a further 2 days for cooling then then a day or so for the workers to collect the charcoal and packing them in sacks for eventual selling them to homes, restaurants, public markets  etc..

Centro Salvador Building

100% of the profits from the Smokey Mountain tour are used to support Saint Martin of Porres programs in Barangay 105, which the people in Smokey Mountain can access.

Saint  Martin runs the following programs below in Manila, for which the total number of beneficiaries for 2012 was 4,833 children and 1,717 adults.


Note: The tour proceeds will help a lot of people in the community

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+63 917 5785398



myKaffe Bakeshop : The Hidden Jewel in Caloocan

#88, 4th Avenue  corner Sevilla St, West Grace Park, Caloocan City-Philippines

myKaffe Bakeshop

myKaffe Bakeshop is one of the newest bakeshops in the heart of Caloocan City .  The bakeshop is located in a commercial area and just a few blocks away from LRT 5th Avenue Station . The bakeshop open last August 2013 .


There are over 30 kinds of cupcakes being offered by the bakeshop. Aside from cupcakes, They also offer hot coffee, hot chocolates, smoothies and cold drinks that can satisfy one’s taste and preference.

cupcakes on miniature ferris wheel -catches anyone attention

The store had a cozy atmosphere and can sit-up to 30 people at any given time.

customized cupcakes for special occasions

The bakeshop can customized their cupcake to suit the taste , preference and budget of their client. ( minimum order is a dozen )

L-R tiramisu, oreo cookies’ and creme, salted caramel and choconut cupcakes

I love to eat cupcakes, What i liked about the myKaffe cupcakes are they are newly baked and the the ingredients use are some of the top quality ingredients that is found in the market.¬† Tiramisu cupcake is¬† like a moist cheesecake soaked with espresso and topped with whipped cream,¬† cocoa powder and real coffee bean coated .¬† Oreo cookies’ and creme cupcake uses real oreo cookies topped with chocolate¬† . I loved the Salted Caramel cupcake for the mix taste of salty and a little bit sweet. ( not too sweet and ideal for people who do not have sweet tooth )¬† The caramel-flavored cheesecake is topped with a unique salty frosting that balances the sweetness of the caramel . Choconut cupcake uses choconut , an all time favorite among the youth as it combines the flavor of chocolate and¬† crush peanuts made into small bite size bars . It is topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of crush chocnut powder .

carrot cupcake

I must say that the carrot cupcake really caught my taste bud ( moist) ! , It had some grated carrots , crush  walnuts and some cinnamon  . It is perfect for pasalubongs and gift for some occasions.

red velvet cream cake

Another thing that I was looking forward to try  was their Red Velvet Cheesecake and Red Velvet Cream Cake  with generous toppings of red velvet chocolate and layered  with smooth cheese cream fillings !

mocha mint  ( Php 120 ) and brazo de mercedes cupcake ( Php 50)

 Brazo de Mercedes cupcake is a Filipino version of rolled up cake  custard-like egg yolk mixture in its center. The filling was not too sweet and the texture of the meringue was good because it’s kind of crunchy and toasted. It is good that they come up with this idea for a bite size .

chocolate chip cookie and oat with blueberry cookie

The chocolate chip cookie is a must for every chocolate chip lover! The chocolate chip is soft and chewy unlike the commercial brands in the market .  I also like their oat with blueberry cookie !

Ms. Kathy Kenny Ngo – food expert and Ms. Abeth Co- proprietor

How the business started:

I was fortunate to meet the proprietor of the bakeshop , Ms. Abeth Co – According to her,¬† she started to bake cupcakes in 2005 .She noticed that there were a lot of orders from her friends , relatives and neighbors. Eventually she thought of opening a bakeshop where she lives.¬† She had personally chosen the site ( Which had a good feng shui numerology double 88 )¬† . The store is located in an chic 1960’s style building and it used to be a bakery in the 1960’s , then a merchandise store before it was chosen by the current proprietor.

According to the proprietor, They might add some dim sums and light meal ( maybe pasta ) in the coming months. They also accept pre-orders and bulk orders for special occasions.

How to Get There:

There are many ways on how to get to myKaffe Bakeshop

1.) Northern Metro Manila and South Metro Manila area- LRT line 1 and then get-off at LRT 5th Avenue station, a short walk towards the 4th avenue.

2.) Novaliches- Blumentritt jeep which ply the Andres Bonifacio Avenue then take-off at Sgt. Rivera Avenue or C-3 . There are tricycles or jeepneys which ply the route and try to get -off at LRT 5th Avenue station.

3.) Monumento jeep plying the  Rizal Avenue south bound area , just get -off at the 4th avenue .

4.) Navotas and Malabon area, Just ride Gasak- Monumento-Recto route , The jeep will directly pass Sevilla street on its way to Recto.

* The fastest way to get there is via LRT line 1 route.

Store Operation:

Monday to Sunday : 8am to 10:00pm

Landline : (02) 579-7940/ 0920-913-7730, 09434801934


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