Filed under: Charity Works, Inspirational Stories, Random thoughts, Videos

We say Garbage, They say HOME.

by on Sep 6th, 2011

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I’ve been staring down this blank page for a while, trying to come up with words to write about a previous event I attended that was held in a poverty stricken area here in the Philippines. I’ve typed several words only to end up deleting it because I couldn’t fully express what I wanted to say. So I decided to write a new post first, and get these feelings out of my chest.

Last week, I attended the inauguration of a school in Tondo. Seeing the school and the children in it was really heartwarming, but I’ll share more on that later. Before that, I’d like to share what the place was like before anyone really did anything about it.


Return to a land called paraiso
A place where a dying river ends
No birds dare fly over paraiso
No space allows them to endure
The smoke that screens the air
The grass that’s never there

And if I could see a single bird
What a joy!
I try to write some words and create
A simple song to be heard by the rest of the world
I live in a land called paraiso
In a house made of cardboard floors and walls
I learned to be free in paraiso
Free to claim anything I see
Matching rags for my clothes
Plastic bags for the colds

And if empty cans were all I have
What a joy!
I never fight to take someone else’s coins
and live with fear like the rest of the boys

Paraiso, help me make a stand
Paraiso, take me by the hand
Paraiso, make the world understand
That if I could see a single bird
What a joy!
This tired and hungry land could expect
Some truth and hope and respect
From the rest of the world

I intentionally posted the lyrics of the song because it perfectly describes these people’s lives here.

In a huge part of Tondo used to lie the Smokey Mountains. Growing up, I often heard the name but always thought it was a volcano of some sort. It was only in my teenage years did I understand where the name came from. No, it’s not a volcano nor is it a beautiful mountain…. it is however, a mountain of trash. Piles and piles of garbage one on top of the other burned together and resulting to massive air pollution and black smoke all over Tondo and nearby areas.

Yes, the famous Smokey Mountains of the Philippines is nothing but an enormous garbage dump site that became home to 25,000 people! Here in a place that most of us dread to go near, new born babies cry. In a place that makes several feel disgusted, little children play. In a place where all our unwanted things and useless garbage are dumped, families live. There are no roads to walk on or trees to play under, the place is filled with nothing but a mass of decomposing rubbish and burning garbage.

Imagine families and children scavenging for FOOD and clothes from all this garbage. Death here is not something new.

To help you imagine it more, check out this video. This is NOT the same Smokey Mountains from Tondo, Manila… but this is also in the Philippines. Poverty is so common here already and it’s saddening that a lot of people just don’t seem to care anymore. The poverty rate just keeps growing and I wish there was something more I could do.


Poverty is not uncommon in the Philippines. In fact, almost half of the population lies below the poverty line. In going home from work, I often see 5 or more homeless families begging on the streets. Once, I even saw a baby sleeping inside a cardboard box just by the sidewalk while his mom was digging through garbage cans searching for food.
I hope these videos serve as eye-openers, not just for fellow Filipinos but for everyone around the world. This is not something you’d like to happen… and this is NOT something you’d like to see for yourself.
*Paraiso means paradise. This is their paradise. The simple joys of life we often neglect is their paradise.
The Smokey Mountains have already been rehabilitated and is slowly being fixed. Still, there are several areas in the country similar to this, and several family in the same state as these. So what are we going to do about it?……..


Cheryl Villareal is a preschool teacher and the owner/ editor-in-chief of On weekdays, she could be found teaching her little tots while Sundays are her workout days. She easily enjoys simple things and loves experiencing new things! Her blog is simply a way for her to share these experiences with people. Besides her blog, she also contributes and writes various articles on Follow her on Twitter

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