Day 4 – Part 2 – Tondo Market and Smokey Mountain Relocation

It’s still Monday, Dec. 29th. We had an amazing time with the children in the orphanage. All the children lived in the surrounding area called Tondo. We boarded the bus to visit this area.

We boarded the bus to travel to the market
First stop would be the local market
Looking outside the window we got a sense of the living conditions in this region called Tondo
Looking outside the window we got a sense of the living conditions in this region called Tondo
Our tour guide gives us information about this local market
Our tour guide from Smokey Tours gives us information about this local market
Along the way we stop at certain points to hear some information
Along the way we stop at certain points to hear some information
Much different from any market in Toronto
Much different from any market in Toronto
At the market you can buy pretty much anything from clothes...
At the market you can buy pretty much anything from clothes to household items…
To basic staple foods
To staple foods
These are eggs dyed purple to indicate that they are salted
These are eggs dyed purple to indicate that they are salted
To desert
This is a traditional Filipino desert called  “ensaymada”
We are shocked how much stuff in jammed packed in so little space
We are shocked how much stuff is jammed packed in so little space
Some store fronts are closed due to the holidays
Some store fronts are closed due to the holidays
As we make our way to the bus we meet a lot of the kids we played with in the orphanage
As we make our way to the bus we meet a lot of the kids we played with at the orphanage
Every so often kids would recognize us from the orphanage and give us high fives
Every so often kids would recognize us from the orphanage and give us high fives
We see some of the things they do in their day to day life
We see some of the things they do in their day to day life (bingo using macaroni as markers)
This kid is playing video games
This kid is playing video games
There are many food vendors along the walk
There are many food vendors along the walk
We pass by a family hand washing their clothes
We pass by a family hand washing their clothes
Unlike Toronto, everything is washed and dried without machines
Unlike Toronto, everything is washed and dried without machines
These are roosters used for cock fighting
These are roosters used for cock fighting
We even saw horses
We even saw horses
The people we met along the way were extremely friendly. They even asked to take photos with us.
The people we met along the way were extremely friendly. They even asked to take photos with us.
Mike stopping for a photo requets
Mike stopping for a photo request
The kids asked us to play some basketball as Mitch drains 2 three pointers as the crowd goes wild!
The kids asked us to play some basketball. Mitch drains 2 three pointers as the crowd goes wild!
Along the basketball court there is a river
Beside the basketball court there is a river
The amount of garbage in the river is insane
The amount of garbage in the river is insane
We walked towards this bridge
We walked towards this bridge
To our surprise, we learned that 60 families lived under the bridge
To our surprise, we learned that 60 families lived under the bridge. You can see some of their houses to the left.
This is what their homes look like from the top of the bridge
This is what their homes look like from the top of the bridge
We're invited to take these stairs down to meet some of these families living under the bridge
We’re invited to take these stairs down to meet some of the families living under the bridge
This is the first house at the bottom of the steps
This is the first house at the bottom of the steps. We are greeted with these beautiful smiles.
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15 children from these 60 families are sponsored by ANCOP
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These sponsored kids are part of the St. Martin de Porres orphanage

 

The people here were so friendly and welcoming. Some of them were playing cards and taught us how to play
The people here were so friendly and welcoming. Some of them were playing cards and taught us how to play
These refrigerators are used as boats to pic recyclable garbage from the river
These refrigerators are used as boats to pick recyclable garbage from the river. Recycling is their main source of income in this region of Tondo.
Even though one must crawl into this little passage way, houses still exists there
Even though one must crawl into this little passage way, houses still exists there.
16 families live under this passage way under the brideg
16 families live under this passage way under the bridge
There are bedrooms to the left and the right of the crawl space
There are bedrooms to the left and the right of this crawl space

Our next destination is the Smokey Mountain relocation area.

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Last year’s group visited a garbage dump called Smokey mountain. This dump site is now closed and all the people living their have been relocated to different places. We will be visiting one of them.
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We follow our guide into this community. Her family also lives in Tondo and she used to work at St. Martin de Porres.
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Smokey Mountain was a place that had so much accumulated garbage, it was as high as a mountain.
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Because of the accumulated methane gas due all the garbage, random fires would spark up giving it the name, “Smokey Mountain”.
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Even though these people are no longer in at that dump site, there is still a tremendous amount of garbage in this place where they have been relocated
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Makeshift houses are made of any materials that can be found

 

Words can't describe the emotions we all felt as we looked upon their living condition
Words can’t describe the emotions we all felt as we looked upon their living condition
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Compare this with the streets we live on in Toronto
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As mentioned earlier, the main source of income here is recyclying
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These are bagged and collected recyclable items that can be sold for income. Average daily earnings from recycling is 100-125 pesos. That’s around $3 dollars a day.
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This old abandoned building is now “temporary” housing. However, it’s been 9 years since people have been relocated here so it’s does not seem very “temporary.”
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All homes typically sell something to earn additional income
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What was shocking is many of the people, children included walked barefoot through these streets
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It was overwhelming to try to absorb everything that we were seeing
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This isn’t something we were watching on TV or pictures on the internet. This was real life.
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A life totally different from that of our own.
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Look closely at this picture and imagine living here
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The children followed us around everywhere.
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One source of income was recycling rubber from tires
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This a small chapel. The predominate religion in this region is Roman Catholicism.
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This is a rechargeable lamp that families can rent for 5 pesos a day. It last up to 8 hours. Many of the families do not have electricity and those that do still rent this lamp since it is cheaper means of light when it gets dark.

 

This is a school that another NGO (non-government organization) built for this community
This is a school that another NGO (non-government organization) built for this community
Another NGO created this basketball court for the communities recreation
Another NGO created this basketball court for the communities recreation
Despite the many hardships, the people of this community had a very positive and happy outlook
Despite the many hardships, the people of this community had a very positive and happy outlook.
Their happiness and contentment with what they have is a huge lesson we learned today as well as the realization how lucky we are to be living in Canada.
Their happiness and contentment with what they have is a huge lesson we learned today.  We realized more than ever how lucky we are to be living in Canada.

We say bye to the kids that followed us all the way to the bus as we board to make our way to Baclaran Market. After the market, we have dinner at Aristocrat Restaurant.

With great gratitude we say Grace Before Meals
With great gratitude we say Grace Before Meals
Many of the conversations during dinner centered around the fact that we should never complain about what we "don't" have ever again!
Many of the conversations during dinner centered around the fact that we should never complain about what we “don’t” have ever again!

After dinner we walk to this beautiful fountain next to the restaurant to take some photos.

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We had an amazing day and experienced a whole gamut of emotions from happiness playing with the kids at St. Martin de Porres, to sadness leaving them behind knowing that we would probably never seem them again, to joy when we surprisingly reconnected in the Tondo community, to depression see the living conditions in the surround areas, to motivation as we become awareness of poverty outside of our normal lives, and desire to help and give back.

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much even more will be required.- Luke 12:48  Now that we know what poverty exists beyond what we normally see, we can never ignore those less fortunate then ourselves.

Thank you for following our travels. Please write a comment below and share with us how you felt when you looked at these photos.

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “Day 4 – Part 2 – Tondo Market and Smokey Mountain Relocation

  1. I am glad that our young Canadian student leaders came to see what poverty really is. Yes it will open their eyes to the reality of life in a depressed area, and as you wrote…we can no longer ignore those less fortunate… God Bless all of you!

    1. Shocking how different it is in the Philippines as contrasted to Canada. This trip has definitely opened my eyes to how poverty is an upsetting reality.

  2. Part two of day four was quite devastating, but it showed how much we are learning and going to learn on this trip, whether it is a just a matter of being grateful for what we are given and have or a matter of taking a step forward to help improve their situation. It was truly an eye-opening experience, although terribly sad.

  3. The smiles on the children’s faces said it all…..people can be happy with very little! What a great lesson for all of us as we begin a new year. More love…less stuff! Happy New Year and God bless!

  4. The tour was so eye opening, it really showed the poverty in the Philippines. All of the children were amazing and it was so nice to see some of the children from the orphanage again.

  5. Perspective. Reality really is perspective. These happy people from Tondo choose to be happy with what they have. Happiness really is a decision. Despite having and not having stuff, we have the choice to be happy. That is something they taught me. Very comforting to know that we can still (choose to) feel blessed even in times of troubles and loss. The Smokey Mountain tour was really an eye opener. Being born and raised in the Philippines, the poverty is not new to me. But I did not know it was that severe in that area. The environment is TOXIC. How lucky am I to be standing on solid ground and not mud with liquid waste? Very lucky. Lottery winner lucky. For that alone I am extremely grateful.

  6. Visiting smokey mountain was not like looking at them in pictures. Seeing it first hand lets us use our 5 senses and shows the terrible truth of poverty in this part of Philippines. My favorite part was when young children followed us wherever we went, and always had a smile, that made us feel extra special.

  7. The tour of smokey mountain was no doubt an eye opener to everyone. Although, seeing the families and kids so happy, you can only feel joyful and happy for them yourself. They have learned to make the best of their situation regardless of the circumstances. I was very surprised how they are able to be so creative with what they have, and how they use everyday materials in order to make some extra money or use it around the house in a different form. We are so spolied with technology and money that we lack the need to be creative as we already have everything at our fingertips. We could unlock so much potential without the influence of money and technology.

  8. Young people, you are amazing. Although I don’t know any of you (except Kaisha) I feel so proud of you when I read what you are doing. I know that this experience will change your lives. I am sure that in the future each one of you will do something to make this world a better place because of your compassion and your courage. Thank you for making this journey.

  9. My motto for this trip was “expect the unexpected”, this day really hit that. This tour was just devastating and definitely and eye opener to everyone. Seeing pictures of poverty and watching videos of it was NOTHING compared to what I saw with my own naked eyes. Children were living near toxic water, I thought it was drizzling for a minute when we passed by the river because it was bubbling but it was just the chemicals in the river. It was that bad. Also, the tour at the “temporary” housings was just overwhelming, children were walking around the puddle of gray smelly ground with barefoot. So many children with no proper clothing. What surprised me the most is seeing these children all so happy like nothing was wrong, they had smiles and they were just genuinely happy playing around with their friends. I am definitely grateful for every single thing in my life, no complaints.

  10. My first thoughts about the living conditions in this area was “I can’t imagine how hard it would be to live like this. This life style must really effect how a person sees life.” After taking the tour of Smokey Mountain I saw that my first impression was correct. The people in the area were struggling to make ends meet, and this effected how they viewed life, but not in the way i was expecting. I was surprised to see so many smiling faces as we passed through the slums. I now truly believe that money blinds us from what is really important in life. If one is lacking in material goods they are given an opportunity to build themselves emotionally and spiritually. Relationships are strengthened when a group goes through tough times together. I am grateful for what i have in Canada, but i would like to experience a hardship that lets me grow as a person.

  11. Visiting Smokey Mountain definitely had the most impacted culture shock for me. It was so hard to believe that people could manage to live in such an environment. One of the things that hit me hardest was something our tour guide told us. The people of Smokey Mountain are scavengers, and because of this they go through fast food restaurants garbage and scavenge whatever they can. From that, they take food, like chicken, and take it back to their homes, re-cook it and then sell it to the community. After hearing this on the trip, it was easy to ration food and be mindful of how much we eat. Sometimes being in Canada we forget how incredibly lucky we are to have what we consider necessities like food, water and a roof over our heads.

  12. The kids were so incredible. A group of kids had learned my nickname, Mimi, and we’d occasionally take a turn and I’d hear them cry “Mimi!” which touched my heart. Ella and Opow were two girls that followed us everywhere in the first slum. They were incredibly sweet, and I played “Appear Disappear” (a filipino hand game that Axile and Marc taught me) with them.

    Underneath the bridge I was welcomed into the home of these two lovely women playing cards. Inside was a baby sleeping and a television that was on. The room inside was no larger than most people’s washrooms. But these women were happy, hospitable, and did I mention happy? I had fun (trying) to play Tang-it, a Filipino game I still have to fully learn.

    When walking into the coach bus a crowd of kids were yelling and waving for me, which I found so incredible because I was just a stranger who had smiled at them. I went outside of our bus with my ukelele and began singing 10 000 Reasons, a song that begins “Bless the Lord oh my soul…Worship His holy name,” as more kids began to surround me. I found it fitting, because it was in a community like this that I felt God strongly present. The photos are harder to look at than to recall my own memories of the experience, because while I was there my focus was on the warmth of community, rather than the striking poverty.

  13. The people we met along this tour are my inspiration. Their happiness in the poverty that they live in, as well as their determination for continuing to make the best out of their lives, inspires me to live happier and truly appreciate the conditions I’m living in. Being there is so much different from just the T.V. screen. It was real when I smelt, how I walked, who I talked to. These people are amazing.

  14. I think out of our whole journey on this trip, Smokey Mountain was probably the most emotional and eye opening for a lot of us. I don’t think any of us really expected to see what we saw that day and how different it was from our own lives back in Canada. On our way to the Baclaran market I had expected it to be sort of like the flea markets in Canada where they sell accessories and other little trinkets out of booths owned by individual shopkeepers, however when we got there it was much different than I imagined. The smell was the first thing I noticed, and as we passed through I had realized that it was the smell of all the foods in the market, which is what was mostly sold there. On the tour, I found out that they leave out all their food (meat, vegetables, even eggs) and don’t refrigerate anything, which accounted for the smell. It was really different from any store or market I’ve ever seen here.

    When we toured the Smokey Mountain area, I was visually shocked at the amount of garbage the actually was present in the area. It seemed like it was everywhere. Even the ground seemed like it was made of garbage and I couldn’t imagine a place anything like it not to mention the fact that people actually could live in a place like this. Something that really surprised me however, were the people living here. Even under these conditions, the children and people of this area still had smiles on their faces and were more of a community than any of the neighbourhoods I’ve seen in Canada. The children gave us, total strangers, high fives, hugs, and wanted to get to know us. One of the kids I met on the tour even gave me a small gift, a rosary bracelet! Can you imagine? A girl with so much less than most gave me something, when really it should be the other way around. I really wish I had brought something to give her that day too, and I feel really bad that I didn’t but also really touched at the happiness, kindness and generosity I witnessed that day 🙂

  15. This was one of the most eye opening part of the trip. Smokey mountain was really different if you compare it to any community in Canada. The live in very harmful and toxic area, yet the make a living out of it. Knowing the kids from the orphanage were from this area is heartbreaking, these wonderful talented kids living in such conditions is hard to see. We are so lucky to leave in a country like Cananda where our water is clean and we arent surrounded by garbage and make a living off of it. “We already won the Lottery of Life” a phrase we said a couple times on the trip, which is true. Yet sometime we take what we have for granted and these people in these community are very content with there life and are happy.

  16. Seeing the living conditions that these people were living in was truely sad. In Canada we have so much and here 100 people live under a bridge. When I saw this i wanted to cry, even though these kids have nothing they are still happy. I remember scoring those shots and the kids were so happy that I scored them which truely touched me.

    The place we went to eat was really nice and the waterfall was beautiful

  17. Smokey Mountain. I cant even begin to explain how impacting this day was. This day was my least favorite but the most important because it showed us the horribly true reality of why we needed to be there. Those living conditions were unimaginable. I could not believe what I was seeing and needed to wait till a few days had passed to fully process what I had seen. Absolutely heart breaking.

  18. The Smokey Mountain Tour was intense. We saw the reality of other people’s lives, and the whole time I was there I felt like a horrible person. It’s so hard to put into words how heartbreaking it was being in there, and explaining everything I saw, and thinking back at my life and how I’ve complained about not having unnecessary things.
    We weren’t walking on ground in the community, but of layers and layers of garbage. It was heartbreaking seeing a river once beautiful, now filled with garbage. I was so scared for those complied houses inches away from the river. From that tour, I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, and to be grateful with everything I have.

  19. Smoky mountain and the bridge homes really broke my heart. But the residence’s resourcefulness was really inspiring.
    I’m so grateful for all the things I have.

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