February 26, 2005
Payatas Dumpsite (now officially & benignly re-named "Quezon City Controlled Disposal Facility") came to the attention of the world in July 2000, when, following typhoon-spurred rains, a mountain of garbage collapsed on hundreds of scavenger shanties. In the wake of the accident, 219 bodies were recovered, and no one knows how many more remain entombed in garbage. Most of the victims were children, at home on a day declared a holiday because of the typhoon.
I had my long-awaited chance to visit during a two-day layover in Manila. I rode jeeps out to Quezon City, and then started asking around for "Payatas." Everybody seemed to know the place.
I tried to just walk right in through the main gate, but there was a guard who stopped me: "Sorry sir, entry not allowed."
And unfortunately he wasn't bribe-able.
So I had to walk the perimeter road which follows along the outside of the dumpsite, looking for a way inside beyond the view of “da guards.”
Next I tried to find a good vantage point for a photo to show the incredible size of this "garbage mountain." It is such a colossal pile that I was unable to find anyplace where I could actually take it all in. Maybe from an airplane?
Anybody for a swim?
It's a great place to raise children.... NOT!
One thing you can say for Filipinos:
no matter the living conditions, they love to smile.