Payatas Dumpsite

Satellite image of the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City.

Wondering what am I doing featuring the Payatas dumpsite in Vista Pinas? Well, today is Earth Day and instead of showing some ecological site (like the La Mesa Ecopark), I though that there’s no better way to drive home the point about the need to take care of Mother Earth than by showing you what is considered the largest dumpsite in the Philippines. Vista Pinas is not your usual travel blog and through the power of Google Maps and other mapping sites, we are able to virtually visit places that one would not normally visit in real life.

However, you might be surprised to know that lots of people do visit the Payatas dumpsite, which is located in Barangay Payatas in Quezon City. This is because the dumpsite, which has been in operation since 1973 (!), is a viable destination for people who are into humanitarian or environmental concerns. Why humanitarian? Well, the dumpsite is where a lot of poor scavengers earn their living by collecting and sorting garbage and selling them for recycling. In fact, there are thousands of families living in the vicinity, subsisting in the garbage industry.

Sunset over the Payatas dumpsite. Beautiful photo by suvajack. (CC-BY-2.0)

The Payatas dumpsite is also notorious for the Payatas landslide on July 10, 2000. Prior to that day, rains from tropical storms had weakened the mounds of garbage. Finally in the early morning of that fateful day, the unstable garbage all came crashing down, burying more than a hundred shanties with families inside. Subsequent rescue efforts recovered around 200 bodies but the actual death toll may never be known.

Since that day, the conditions at the dumpsite had improved a lot and there had been no major accident, but the garbage problem and the poverty are still major problems. If you’re interested, you might want to see this webpage containing tons of pictures of the dumpsite with informative captions showing how the scavengers make their living.

Anyway, before I started researching for this post, I had no idea where Payatas was. So when I found it on Google Maps, I was simply shocked to find out that the dumpsite is located less than 500 meters from the La Mesa Dam Reservoir, which is the main source of water for Metro Manila! Are you shocked as well? Maybe now is the time to start thinking about really helping save the environment, eh?

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Posted on
April 22, 2008
Filed under
Cultural InstitutionsMetro Manila
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  1. David wrote on April 23, 2008 @ 09:11PM

    So all these so called humanitarians and environmentalists are just tourists as over the years the people living there have not been able to migrate to a better life.

  2. Eugene wrote on April 24, 2008 @ 01:14AM

    @David, well, I wouldn’t be cynical as to say that the visitors are mere tourists. The place is one humongous stinking problem (pardon the pun), but I’ve read that things have definitely improved over the years. You won’t see striking changes overnight.

  3. Filipinayzd wrote on April 25, 2008 @ 10:14PM

    Seav, feature Lahuy Island, Caramoan

  4. Eugene wrote on April 27, 2008 @ 12:55PM

    @Filipinayzd, sure. I checked and it’s in hi-res. Are there any other CamSur places that can be featured? Too bad Naga doesn’t have any hi-res images.

  5. Rico wrote on April 29, 2008 @ 07:20PM

    It is also perversely fitting that the dump site is not very far our Congress! Very fitting feature for Earth Day Eugene!

    Of, and if you’re wondering why Filipinazyd wants you to feature a place from Cam Sur, let’s just say <em>padimen</em> siya…

  6. Filipinayzd wrote on April 30, 2008 @ 12:58AM

    Ei padimen! Kaya nga Payatas Dumbsite di ba? Ay, dumPsite pala. With you permission, I thought of creating a blog called “Bwisit Pinas” inspired by Vista Pinas. Haha Spoof baga. BTW, I have located three Bicolano sites which you can feature here someday.

  7. Eugene wrote on May 1, 2008 @ 01:07PM

    @Rico, I just hope that the interesting Legazpi vs. Naga debates won’t spill over to this website given that I have only featured Albay so far in Vista Pinas.

    @Filipinayzd, Bwisit Pinas? Hehehe, featuring the ugly side of the Philippines? Or just politicians? I’ll place those CamSur sites in the pipeline, thanks!

  8. Pastor Jack Wilson wrote on February 19, 2009 @ 01:22PM

    The dump has been there for thirty years. It doesn’t get better, it gets worse. When it’s gone they will immediately build houses and people will die from the toxic waste.

    We need to save this place. SAVE PAYATAS!

  9. john wrote on September 2, 2009 @ 11:13AM

    Im so happy to the people in payatas they welcome us warmly and I dont think that leaving beside the dumpsite area is worst thing.

  10. Pastor Jack Wilson wrote on December 24, 2009 @ 12:40PM

    That was an interesting comment John. Do you live at the side of the dump site? Are you happy there?
    If that’s not the worst thing John, and I am sure there are worse things, what do you think is worse that you are enduring?

  11. Jay L wrote on August 13, 2010 @ 05:51PM

    We did scientific research there. The whole mountain doesn’t stink; only fresh garbage does, and not for long because the bacteria act fast to degrade the organics. In fact, there’s a power plant right there that burns the underground methane to produce electricity. Much of the mountain itself is quite nice to look at. Leachate colors the streams immediately around the dump black-brown; that’s dirty, but no one’s really dying of the toxic waste because 1) they don’t use the surface water; 2) surface contamination is not getting into the groundwater; and 3) people have Nawasa lines. It’s as varied as any poor community, except that people here generally make good money, and most will rather not leave. Ex-military men maintain order, and the general impression we get is one of discipline. In short, this is far from hell.

  12. pastorjack wrote on September 6, 2011 @ 04:11PM

    “We did scientific research there.” Gee, that’s strange. Travel through Payatas on any given day and see those with handkerchiefs held close to their mouths to stop them from smelling the stench. Are the people on this site living in the dump-site area and claiming it’s fine? I hardly think so.
    Do you who say it’s not so bad want your mother or sister to live here? Is this the dream you have for your family? These are extremely hard working people just trying to make a living. they had no middle or higher class background that afforded them good jobs nor did they have corrupt connections to have a better life. If you say it doesn’t stink here everyday, If you say there is no noxious fumes or deadly elements, than you have no idea of what you are speaking. In America the dumpsite has to be vacant for 100 years before being used. The moment it closes here they will build houses and people will die from cancer and other diseases.

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