This post is rather late but i’m still gonna share this experience of mine. One of the classes I took for my last semester was Cultural Anthropology. For someone who is taking up a culinary course, this became my favorite class. I was always all ears to every story our lovely professor tells us. There was one story I really found interesting, and it was all about “Pagpag”. My professor does her field work in Baseco, Manila. She kept telling us stories about people scavenging food wastes and cooking it again in order to eat but most of the time sell. As disgusting as it sounds, I loved studying about these things. Me and my friend Angela asked of we could come to one of our professor’s studies, and lucky enough she agreed. We went to Baseco with some UST Tourism students who were doing a feeding program among the kids. We arrived actually excited to do field work. Our professor was hesitant at first to bring Enderun students to that kind of place and I could see why. There really is this perception of Enderun students being all elitist-classy and yes I will admit 80% of the school is like that (just think of the Kardashians). Anyway, I’m glad that we changed that perception to our professor when we came to Baseco with her. We were instructed to bring rain boots for it was muddy and when it rains, the water can get knee-high. We didn’t risk not bringing rain boots. No need to be fashionable here because nobody would really care to be honest. As we ventured deeper into the compound, the cemented part was gone and came the muddy part. The rain boots were really helpful. Trust me you wouldn’t want to wear normal shoes or slippers here. There were seven of us, our professor and alongside with her some sociology students doing their thesis. First we visited Papay’s house, a small area with only ply wood keeping them apart from the outside, still exposed to the hazards around them. Papay was one of the people who makes a living out of pagpag. Unfortunately, when we got there they were already all out of pagpag. They sold everything early in the morning. It was rather surprising that everything got sold (knowing that it came from garbage), which made me realize how hard it must really be for them to get something decent to eat. There it was, poverty right before our eyes.
Despite the unfortunate state they were in, these people still know how to smile genuinely. Papay showed us around the seaside area with his grandson. This was home for them.
It was rather heart-breaking to see children exposed to so many infectious diseases. Children are starving most of the time. The lack of education left some of them resorting to illegal acts. I couldn’t do anything but observe and share their stories. Even though some people in Baseco rely on unlawful ways to earn money, I really couldn’t blame everything to them. There were still generous people who showed us the kind filipino hospitality we couldn’t see anymore today. This trip was a real-eye opener. My goal was to show the truth and nothing but the truth, and this is the Philippines’ state right now. The distance between the elite and and the poor is very far, and yet both numbers keep increasing, there is no in between. All I can hope for is change.