Life In The Philippines’ Largest Open Dumpsite

Marivic is a bubbly and talkative 41-year old lady. She has 8 children. She is holding here her affectionate first grandchild. Her husband is a construction labourer; she buys and sells fruit to make ends meet. The little money they earn can’t provide them with a better home.
Navotas

 

Photographer Francoise Holtzmacher is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From her project ‘Mothers Courage and Their Children‘.  To see Francoise’s body of work click on any image.

 

Malnutrition or poor eating habits make some children frail and listless.
Navotas

 

A slum located between Manila Bay and Navotas public cemetery has been destroyed, leaving behind a sea of garbage, where people still live and children play.

 

Jocelyn’s baby girl is napping in a bed sheet hung in the middle of their shack. Jocelyn is 34 years old and has 5 children. Her husband is a jeepney driver. They live next to the Payatas dumpsite.
Quezon City

 

Women, and especially mothers in the Philippines, pay often the toll of the country’s rampant poverty. On average they have more than five children and teenage pregnancies are very common. They work very hard to keep the family together, put food on the table and clothes on their kids’ backs, and send them to school.

 

'Navotas' public cemetery is also home to many poor people who can't afford better living conditions.' 

 

Navotas is a coastal town located in the northwest part of Metro Manila. The majority of its population lives under or at the poverty line. This narrow strip of land borders Manila Bay and lies in the estuary of several river deltas. It is known as the “Fishing Capital of the Philippines” because the livelihoods of many of its residents depend directly or indirectly from fishing and related activities. Navotas is one of the most densely populated areas in the country and its low-lying, flat terrain makes it prone to frequent flooding, especially during high tides, heavy rains and when river and dams overflow. Navotas’ public cemetery is also home to many poor people who can’t afford better living conditions.

 

Evangeline, 42, with one of her daughters. Her husband is a scavenger on the Payatas dumpsite.
Quezon City

 

Ofelia is 56 years old. She has 10 children and 2 grandchildren. She is a street sweeper and earns 1,800 pesos (around 40$) a month. Her husband is a carpenter. Last year they lost their home and all their belongings in a fire that broke out in the cemetery where they were living. Since then her children don’t go to school any more as they cannot afford new school uniforms and new school books. The family now lives in a tiny makeshift shack right by the road. She comes from a remote province in the Philippines and moved to Manila in her twenties. At the time “Manila was very popular in the province”. Many people emigrated to the capital, hoping for a better life they didn’t get.
Navotas

 

47-year old Jacqueline has 3 children and has adopted this little girl. They live next to the Payatas dumpsite.
Quezon City

 

'This tragic landslide bulldozed over several shanties claimed the lives of 300 adults and children working in the dumpsite.'

 

The area of Payatas measures up to 220 hectares and is located in the largest and most populated city, Quezon City, in Manila. Payatas became an open dumpsite in the 1970’s and began accepting about 3,000 tons of solid waste per day for the entire metro area of Manila in 1993. Although it was ordered to be closed in 1998, scavengers continued their activities at the site. On July 10th 2000, the residential area of Payatas experienced a massive landslide of 50 feet of solid waste. This tragic landslide bulldozed over several shanties claimed the lives of 300 adults and children working in the dumpsite. Many other people were believed to have been buried under the waste. This horrendous event quickly became a national embarrassment for the Philippines as a country steep with poverty. The 13-hectare dumpsite in Payatas resumed its operations in 2001 in order to serve Metro Manila as a major waste site. It is the largest open dumpsite in the Philippines.

 

A slum located between Manila Bay and Navotas public cemetery has been destroyed, leaving behind a sea of garbage, where people still live and children play.

 

Rosalia, 55 years old, has 6 children and 11 grandchildren. She looks after them when she is not working as a Barangay Health Worker. Barangay is a native Filipino term for a village, district or suburb.
Navotas

 

Boys growing up in a slum next to the Payatas dumpsite often lack basic needs.
Quezon City

 

See also:

Philippines

By Francoise Holtzmacher

 


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