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 http://www.smokeytours.com/

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 .

children

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.

http://i1312.photobucket.com/albums/t527/ldvchan/childrenfullofhappiness_zps9bc7e34e.jpg

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.

participants

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

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/smokeytours

info@smokeytours.com

+63 2 6221325
+63 917 5785398

 

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