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12.05.2024 The Harsh Reality: 'Pagpag' - Food from Garbage in the Philippines.


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12.05.2024

Garbage is a source of income for many. people around the world. especially those who live in poverty. metal debris plastic aluminum paper cans. different types of bottles that have. been discarded will be sorted before. being sold or sent to recycling plants. some poor people in Manila make a living. from selling garbage. but there is another type of garbage. Market. the type of garbage they're looking for. is organic waste. just like many other recycling processes. organic waste from trash bins is sorted. cooked and served again as new dishes. these dishes are called in Tagalog. pagpak which is in onomatopoeic term. referring to the action of picking up. fruit from the ground and cleaning it it. basically means brushing off the dust. and soil. three o'clock in the morning in a slum. in Manila we arrived to see a day in the.

Life of a food recycler. we wandered through the rain stomping. along muddy streets filled with potholes. and puddles. it's been drizzling all night here in. Manila the bumpy street is swamped by. the water. under the dim light of torches and. Street lamps accompanied by drizzling. rain. the sound of cars passing by and the. roosters growing. we sat down by a pile of garbage and. began our conversation with birds. I needed. after the restaurants which are the. origin of this organic waste the next. people in this recycling process are the. buyers who collect food waste from these. restaurants the process starts right. after closing time at around 10 or 11 pm. once the restaurant is closed the. employees start cleaning up the place. and put the trash bags containing. organic waste outside. Bird's job is to go around collecting.

The bags from various restaurants. quickly so that the waste won't be. rotten. this collection is usually done by. midnight. eight o'clock. Manila is one of the world's top ranking. capital cities in terms of the number of. slums. one of the slums here is also considered. the world's largest. economic growth in recent years has not. ameliorated the situation on the. contrary poverty is soaring. from various restaurants across the city. bird drove his truck containing the. trash bags to this pile of garbage in. the slum. the sorters are already here waiting. they offload the truck and start to sort. the garbage def plane. Robin. so usually. mountains of garbage giving off a foul. odor surround us in the darkness with. only the sorter's headlamps lighting the. scene as they work relentlessly and. Against Time. no need for masts to protect them from.

The dust and smell nor proper clothing. for this filthy work. only bare hands are needed as they did. fearlessly through this mixture of. leftovers and other trash. their job is to look for food waste. scattered throughout a pile of garbage. other leftovers are ignored the only. things they need are chicken bones with. bits of meat left over by whoever. now can you please. foreign rice and vegetables are set. apart ready to be sold as animal feeds. such as for pigs chicken bones are not a. pig's favorite so they're placed in a. different bag. the content of this last bag is the most. valuable and the most sought after the. chicken bones with scraps of leftover. meat still attached. by the time the sun rises the Sorting is. done. chicken bones with the bits of meat are. packed in bags of 10 kilograms each. from the garbage pile bird sells the.

Chicken bones to food vendors in this. slum. despite the steady growth of the economy. the Philippines is still struggling with. the distribution of income. the already huge gap between the rich. and the poor is whitening more and more. one out of three Filipinos is living. below the poverty line they struggle to. get the bare necessities. it's a challenge just to put food on the. table. digging through a pile of trash for food. and goods has become a way for many. people to survive. the chicken bones with scraps of meat. have reached the third step in this. desperate process the restaurants. the restaurants cook these bones into. various dishes such as adobo and. caldereta local dishes popular among. Filipinos. adobo and caldereta made of this food. waste recovered from the garbage is. known as pakpak. the sun is rising the rain has just.

Stopped we're still wandering along the. swampy Street flanked by ramshackle. dwellings made out of tin. locals are roaming around. we've reached another step in the food. recycling process. the shop has been open since Dawn a huge. walk is set on a stove the sound of. distant roosters crawling can be heard. from time to time. this morning meal is caldereta a. Filipino style stew in which meat is. slowly cooked in tomato paste. she starts by preparing the ingredients. which includes washing the chicken bones. in water four times and letting them dry. next she fries shallots to bring out. their aroma and then add the washed. chicken bones and a pinch of salt. the secret is the tomato sauce. as well as adding flavor it also covers. the unpleasant odor coming from the. garbage. mix it well then leave it on a low flame.

For another 15 minutes now we have a hot. dish of caldereta ready to be served. each dish is sold at 10 pesos or around. 8 Thai baht or about 21 us cents. foreign. for the chicken bones she bought from. bird. the whole bag is then cooked into pack. pack which can be sold for 200 pesos or. about three dollars and 40 cents. after deducting all the expenses she's. left with 50 pesos or just 85 us cents. Indonesia. this man is a regular customer here. he collects or buys expired eggs and. sells them at low prices. after selling all his eggs he stops here. to eat. apart from the good flavor he also comes. here because of the affordable prices. a dish of pakpak is eaten with some rice. he brought from home. the whole meal cost him less than 10. Baht or about 26 Cents. why is most backpack made with chicken. this Echoes the eating habits of.

Filipinos especially those who live in. the city. the Philippines is a Melting Pot of. different cultures it's a mix of Island. Traditions Chinese Merchants classic. Spanish culture and modern American. commercialism. the American fast food culture is very. influential here. popular dishes include burgers and fried. chicken fried chicken is so popular that. the Philippines even has their own Fried. Chicken brand with its familiar flavor. and affordable price Jollibee a local. fast food chain has built the largest. market share in the Philippines. outselling famous U.S franchises like. McDonald's Burger King and KFC. big crunchy pieces of fried chicken from. Jollibee are a dream food for poor. people but the chicken bones with bits. of meat people leave after eating at. Jollibee are all they can actually. afford in real life.

Foreign. no criticism or condemnation. their only feeling is that others have. more opportunity. though they dream of having a piece of. fried chicken from a fast food chain. those dishes remain out of their reach. Jollibee sells a piece of fried chicken. with rice for 95 pesos or 1.64 cents. while a dish of pack pack costs only 10. pesos or 17 Cents Only once or twice in. a very long time might they bite the. bullet and pay for a hot and fresh piece. of fried chicken with meat on it one. that has not been in a trash bin but in. their everyday lives pagpak is probably. the closest they will get to their dream. dish. the backpack Journey which begins in the. garbage has reached its destination in a. dish for those who rarely have a chance. to eat whole pieces of fried chicken. other than food vendors who purchase.

Chicken bones to make bagpack for sale. the bones are also packed into smaller. portions for anyone who wishes to buy. them to cook at home. we continue our journey through ruins. and Decay which reflect the scarcity and. famine in the neighborhoods. this granny is selling chicken bones in. small packs. clients are the residents of the area. this mother has come with her baby to. buy the chicken bones to make her own. backpack for the family. though we can afford fresh food we. couldn't help stepping in and buying. some from the granny. once she finds out that we're not locals. she eagerly tells us the recipe for. adobo a popular local dish in the. Philippines. from tin Shacks that sell backpack in. the slum area we travel back to the. origin of this recycled food. here is a modern commercial District in. Manila. everything is clean and organized.

Apparently only those with purchasing. power which is a small group here in the. Philippines come here to spend their. time and money. we order some food. the dish reminds us of the bag pack we. just saw. the chef here acknowledges the existence. of pakpak and gives us his honest. opinion. besides. food I'm trained. analysis critical control points it's an. international standard for food safety. HACCP so they don't recommend. um recycling food you you can you can. um. you can take whatever leftovers you have. and eat it the following day but not to. recycle what whatever is eaten and. precook it give me some. if you well if for example there's so. many food. I suggest. actually you can take it home and do it. if I didn't want to take it home okay. I'm staying the hotel tonight I don't. have like you know way to actually hit.

It tomorrow okay so you don't have any. plans eating it again yeah. I suggest you just throw it away. you can or just give it to just pack it. up take it out and just give it to to. whoever wants it because that's the. difference from because. they just they throw it in the trash. already right unlike if you take it out. they pack it neatly then you can do. whatever you want with it unlike. backpack right it's thrown away and it's. mixed with other food ingredients it. gets mixed up with the bacteria with the. leftovers and who knows what's inside. poverty has long been a chronic problem. in the Philippines combined with a. skyrocketing birth rate contributing to. a population of over 100 million all. this has pushed one out of every 10. households in the Philippines below the. poverty line with an average daily.

Income of less than 50 Baht or not even. two US Dollars roughly 1.5 million kids. only eat one meal a day one out of three. children under the age of five suffers. with cretinism. eight out of ten children aged between. six months and five years don't have. enough food to eat and have developed. chronic malnutrition. that includes the youngest member of. this family. you want you want you want something. okay. yeah you can take as much as you want I. didn't bring him his to hospital there. so I didn't know if why he is I think a. little bit thin he's a little bit thin. for his age. so you think because of he doesn't have. enough lights I mean maybe you know. the mother is well aware that her. child's deformed body is a sign of. malnutrition. but her tiny income doesn't allow her to. provide enough food to all of her six.

Children. so you think they have enough protein to. eat. because every day we need to eat a. balanced diet every day but I can. achieve them. what is this. what we have. me. anymore. there's nothing nothing I can't provide. to give you the give him a meal because. she's the one who get here because I'm. in work so since when that since when. that he stopped taking milk. one year old two years old so he only. had meal for one one year yeah. in the illegal drugs destroy. in and ruined family relationships. president duterte's War on Drugs has. affected the livelihoods of many poor. families. it has worsened the situation of already. poor families. her husband was shot and killed by the. police. despite having no connection to drug. crimes but just because he happened to. be walking near the area where the. operation was taking place the family.

Was left without their father figure. the mother had no choice but to bring. all six children to come to live with. her parents one of her children is now. being taken care of by the staff of a. private social organization which works. with children my husband. he set up. and I asked the officers why he is into. the hill they said to me that. your husband is in the area of by bus. operation although you're not in the. house but you're in the perimeter then. you you are guilty too yes yes. I think it's 15 meters in the area. everyone who's in the area. will get the police the officer. so maybe I'm worried about the food. because the the one they get the one the. intake is their body is not good enough. there's less vitamins less minerals. because of the kind of food they eat so. if I will given a chance of course I.

Want to give best food for my children. but you just cannot I cannot the money. they have is not enough so it's only one. or two of them feeding ten children 10. members of the family so I don't think. that uh we have worked but it's not. enough really to really uh support the. needed food of the children if you will. see you can read our news for every 10. children there are still four to six. children who are still minorities under. five years old photo success a lot yeah. that's a lot so I don't think that we're. already good in terms of nutrition. problem in the Philippines thank you. very much man. these kids with malnutrition should. immediately be placed under a doctor's. care. but the issue is severe widespread and. out of control in the Philippines. Manila has always been densely populated. still many people are flooding in to.

Search for better opportunities in the. capital city. every inch is packed with people. including cemeteries which are often. turned into housing for the living. instead. tackling food scarcity by growing their. own food is hardly possible in Manila as. seen with this family. eleven people are living in a 10 square. meter space. it already seems impossible to organize. sleeping space for everyone let alone. any space for vegetation or livestock. we are back to the same spot where we. were this morning. there are still people digging through. the piles of trash hoping to find. something to sell to food vendors to. make backpack or to take home to cook. their own pack pack for their family. we keep wondering to ourselves how. hungry do you have to be to eat food. from other people's trash. because they are fully aware that pakpak.

is not hygiene and it exposes them to. various diseases. foreign. you either die of starvation or live off. garbage. okay. foreign. thank you

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