The Canadians finally got it right: Manila IS a dump!

Literally! No really. As of this writing there are reportedly 50 container vans containing toxic waste imported from Canada sitting on a yard at the Manila International Container Terminal. Somebody in Canada must have finally worked it out in their head. Manila is the place to dump stuff.

The Philippines' waste management industry is in dire need of modernisation!
The Philippines’ waste management industry is in dire need of modernisation!
Metro Manilans have been doing it for decades. They clogged up their esteros and sewers and some of Manila’s prime land is piled storeys high in perma-garbage. Thousands of Filipinos live off and die underneath mounds of rubbbish. One “investigative” journalist even encouraged Pope Francis who will be visiting the Philippines soon to go to acclaimed Manila dump site Smokey Mountain where, she says, he will find “the real Philippines”.

We really don’t need travel bloggers to tell us the obvious. You just need to apply a child-like inquisitive mind to the task of seeking The Truth a-la the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

How’s this for irony though: Norway leads the way in turning waste into energy. The ultra-clean and affluent northern European country is “importing as much rubbish as it can get its hands on, in an effort to generate more energy by burning waste in vast incinerators.” Indeed;

Waste to energy has become a preferred method of rubbish disposal in the EU, and there are now 420 plants in Europe equipped to provide heat and electricity to more than 20 million people. Germany ranks top in terms of importing rubbish, ahead of Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands. But it’s Norway that boasts the largest share of waste to energy in district heat production, according to Danish government-funded State of Green.

It is interesting to note that Norway is Europe’s largest oil producer and the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world. So it is remarkable the way a country blessed with such bountiful natural resources still strives to find ways to generate its energy using alternative fuels.

In contrast, the only people benefiting from Manila’s bountiful supply of garbage are the hundreds of thousands of squatters that infest it. The ingredients of pagpag, a local Filipino delicacy favoured by Manila’s urban poor, are harvested fresh from the garbage bins of the many fast food outlets that have proliferated in the city. Many Filipinos also make a living picking through the refuse for stuff that could be recycled, refurbished, and re-sold — a sort of low-tech labour-intensive recycling industry. So when in Manila, make sure you give your bottled water a good second look first before you drink out of it.

Worse, the country’s tonnes of garbage resource contribute negatively to productivity accounting for much of the problems that plague the sewer and waterway systems of the world’s most most densely-populated megalopolis. Billions of dollars are lost every year to the vast urban paralysis caused by the flood waters that engulf much of Metro Manila whenever it rains. And untold diseases are spread thanks to the leaching of untreated sewage and other waste chemicals into these waters further taxing the already rickety public health system of the country.

Like much of the rest of the Philippines’ natural resources, the wealth sitting underneath Filipinos’ noses is routinely taken for granted as the society simply lacks an indigenous capability to develop and apply the technologies and expertise needed to exploit them. Just like how most of the Philippines’ minerals and agricultural produce is exported raw rather than processed into higher-added-value branded products, Filipinos themselves are exported to countries that are strapped for people to do work deemed beneath their respective locals.

Rubbish is another one of these potentially valuable resources that is plentiful in the Philippines. Indeed, Manila’s streets can be described as being paved with gold when one considers how much of this potential resource is lying around in plain sight. For now, Filipinos are still slowly coming to terms with the reality that their country’s financial and cultural capital has become an absolute dump. Hopefully someday, this collective grief can be turned into a strong resolve to turn trash to cash.

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17 Comments on “The Canadians finally got it right: Manila IS a dump!”

  1. Norwegian oil production peaked in 2001 at 3.12 million barrels a day, and by the end of 2013 production had declined by more than 50% to 1.46 mb/d. Within 20 years Norwegian oil production will be a thing of the past.
    35% of Norway’s gdp come from oil revenue.
    By turning to alternative energy supplies Norway is planning for the future.

  2. Kung ang EU ay nagawang i convert ang waste into Energy. Bakit ang mga Pulpol nating Politikos ay nag kukumahog ngayon bigyan si BS Aquino ng Emergency power kuno para sa nag aambang mga Brownouts daw samantalang sagana tayo sa Basura na pwedeng i convert into alternative energy. Puro kasi pangungurakot lang ang iniisip ng mga Politikong ito.

    1. You already said it yourself.. mga pulpol nga eh. There’s nothing we can expect from them. We can do a lot on our own to help ourselves and the country though.

      1. there is only so much an individual can do. individual efforts will remain largely uncoordinated. also individuals have day jobs. that’s why we have government, theoretically so it can lead, provide direction and make good policies.

        government has the potential to make a difference through making and implementing pro-development policies. just look at mainland China, 30 years ago or sometime at the time of People Power, the chinese were more impoverished than us. however, changes in chinese government policy allowed them to post decades of continued economic growth. now look at china.

        so we must demand that our pulpol government officials do what is right and exercise some leadership. a smart and disciplined government will be in a better position to encourage citizens to be disciplined. things should rightly start at the top.

        if they refuse maybe we should stop paying taxes as a form of protest? maybe we should just let the system rot up to a point that there will be no choice but to revolt?

    2. Probably because there is too much protection our present and previous governments since Cory, is giving the Lopez owned Meralco company that’s why we cannot modernize our waste management and apply the “waste to energy” method.

  3. Metro Manila, “The Gates of Hell”, as written by the novelist Dan Brown…has become the world’s dumpsite. The Political Leaders are garbage. The Aquinos are garbage. The Squatter infested City is full of rotting garbage. Just visit the dumpsite called “Smokey Mountain”; with people living around it; living on garbage. While those Political Leaders have several mansions; huge tracks of lands and serfs, like Hacienda Luisita…air conditioned piggery like Binay’s piggery. Pigs live better than people in our country. At least, they have air conditioning..

  4. What a mess,’Smokey Mountain’, eh? Geez and crackers, Mon…can’t someone in that frikkin country do something that will enable the ‘Hell-Hole’ to achieve something remotely close to what could be the countries possible potential? KRUNK !’Thousands of people die under the garbage in Metro Manila each year’, I mean, really, how fucked is that ?

  5. They’re taught being surrounded by filth is a way of life. A grave result of the country’s anti-intellectual tendencies all because of self interest of the privileged.

  6. This is all fucked up. First of all, this is a result of letting the Filipinos vote uncapable leaders. Second, Filipinos generally lack in discipline. Third, the government has the fucking time to discuss about about useless issues and cases like Purisima’s but they can’t even help the burried-under-the-grabage citizens in Manila? The fuck are they? Just enjoying their luxurious lives not caring about how many people die? How many uneducated citizens starve everyday? Okay, Fourth, Canada dumps garbage here. Do they not know about our garbage problems? Every country has garbage problems ya know? Why not take their garbage to the EU countries?

    Okay, I’m done ranting. All of these problems branches from Population. I know that life is a blessing but they are not needed at the moment since the world is already infested with rotten humans.

  7. I’ve just watched Al Jazeera series on Manila slums. Heartbreaking.

    Filth. Hopelessness. Apathy. Innocent children who don’t know any better. What are the political leaders going to do about this? Can’t howl screams of protest since the series show the natives’ point of view, and not that of a foreigner.

  8. Last week, napadaan ako sa Manila Cityhall. There’s an ongoing road construction and drainage declogging. But look around it you’ll see garbage here and there. In Intramuros you’ll see road sweepers but you’ll also see passersby coolly disposing their garbage to where they walk. Apparently, although solutions are being applied, the problem itself is not directly being dealt with. Also, Divisoria is almost Little China with all of the Chinese junks within its walls (and coming soon, more Chinese establishments/edifice in the city). Have you noticed what products sell like hotcakes in popular crowded markets and malls in Manila? Manila is a dump because there are residents there who are garbage collectors. They just love garbage. And they welcome the waste suppliers with open arms.

    1. What does China/Chinese have to do with Canadian toxic waste containers? I suppose when/if Chinese containers arrive, you would link them with the UK?

      1. Point taken. 🙂

        After a year and 3 months the Canada trash is still in Manila shores. Why is it so hard that the one who brought it in be the one to take it out? Why is their garbage exported to Manila in the first place? Is it really a problem of waste trafficking?

  9. You don’t produce energy from trash, at least not much. But by burning the trash and producing electricity in the same proces, you get rid of the trash in a relatively cheap and clean way (air pollution and not walking in the trash).

    But it is not a free ride.

  10. The government is corrupt because they are the product of a despicably corrupt society.

    (Metro) Manila is the “gate of Hell” because this is where most demons live, congregate and are most comfortable to live.

    Luzon is a dump site for all the garbage of the Western countries because the peoples’ mindset is pure rubbish thereby having waste products which are the politicians, government officials and (some) employees.

    What more worse can be expected from Manila and its pathogenic people.

    Based on the current political situation in the Philippines perhaps the most fitting solution is similar to the French Revolution on 1789 to 1799 and the Russian Revolution on 1868-1918. Where all the royals with their whole family were all massacred, which is just most fitting for them.

    Just like the political dynasties in the Philippines and the rotten government officials those royals and their families were responsible for the severe hunger and poverty of the people. They live in luxuries while their people are crawling on the ground in dire poverty.

    1. I seriously don’t mind another dictator if this person can do a better job leading the country. What this country needs is a revolution. I clearly don’t see how the current system can still do wonders for our country. There’s almost no coordination at all among our government officials because even they have no clear goals on what to expect in the future. Depressing but it’s reality.

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