Life Changing Day Walking Through Manila’s Slum Aka Smokey Mountain

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

Walking through the muddy streets piled with trash, our hearts felt heavy. The stench around us was sickening. Trash and puddles everywhere. We couldn’t understand how people could live that way. Set in the slums of Manila, in the poorest of places is a neglected community who scavenges off trash.

The day we spent there has changed our lives. Possibly forever. We left the place unable to speak about the things that we saw. Despite growing up in Manila all my life, I’ve never seen this level of poverty.

manila slums


Everywhere we looked, there was trash. Pieces of wood and metal scraps outlined the place to create makeshift houses. Some even lived right under a bridge on top of the heavily polluted waters.

slums of manila

Majority of the community survive by sorting through garbage and selling it to nearby scrap yards. The place was filthy and was packed to the brim with people and trash. The worst part of it all was the fact that this was their reality.


smokey mountain temporary housing

These temporary houses are home to a large community of people dependent on the dump site. In one concrete block, you have around 100 families living in tiny boxes right next to each other. There are only two public bathrooms in every housing block to be shared by the 500 or so people that live there.

photo walk smokey mountain


Inside these cramped and dirty alley ways, we saw people living with no access to basic sanitation, clean water, or even just basic necessities like proper food and shelter.

sorting through trash smokey mountain

piles of trash

Located in what used to be Manila’s largest garbage dump, the people that live there have come from all over the Philippines. Some sold everything that they have in the provinces in hopes of coming to the city for a better life. With nowhere to go, they end up here.


smokey mountain trash

Every day, they sort through trash. They gather whatever amount of metal, plastic, or sometimes, even leftover food. Some sort through thrown away chicken bones from restaurants. They reboil it, chop it to pieces then fry it again just so they have food to eat.


smokey mountain pagpag

Every day, both adults and children sort through whatever garbage they can find in hopes of finding something useful. Some children are unable to go to school because their family needs all the help they can get to scavenge for survival.

living in the streets manila

trash smokey mountain

This is their reality. This is their life. We left the place in tears. Through our first The Wandergive Project campaign, we are raising funds for a Dutch run organization called Young Focus. They have established themselves in the community since 1992 by building two student centers and creating various programs to help with both education and malnutrition.


kids smokey mountain

For just $1, you can help feed a malnourished child for a day. A mere $30 for an entire month. Our goal? To raise enough money to support 20 children for an entire month. Young Focus trains the mum’s in the community on how to make nutritious meals for the children in their program.

boy smokey mountain


Your help, either in donation or just by spreading the word, can help make a difference in their lives.


Find out how YOU can help a child today by logging on to our crowd funding campaign.


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22 thoughts on “Life Changing Day Walking Through Manila’s Slum Aka Smokey Mountain”

  1. Thanks for a great article, just wonderigng if yoou had a local guiding you around the area or if you have any advice for me to do the same trip? I am heading to the philippines in 2016 to tacloban but would like to see the slums of manila also. Thanks 🙂

  2. This is the sad reality of millions of people all over the world. This side of a country must be shown whether its in Asia or Europe. Only by recognising that these places exist will change come about.
    Some of the usual photos from the Philippines are pristine beaches of Boracay, but even that tiny island has its dark side just metres away from the millions of tourists, they just dont make it to the front page.

  3. I liked your photos, even if they show not very beautiful world, but we can see truth here. I skipped Manila on my way through Philippines, not sure if I want to visit so sad places. Might be too hard for me.

  4. That was powerful. It’s so easy to forget just how good we’ve got it. Thank you for raising awareness (and money) about such an important issue.

  5. This is devastating. I would have walked away in tears too. Thankyou for featuring this issue in your blog though, because the world does need to see it. I’ll be sure to make a donation X

  6. This is incredibly eye opening and sad. It’s awful that people have to live this way. I wish we could help everyone.

  7. It’s devastating, really. This is happening all over the world. When you have what you need, it’s easy to forget that there are others out there who don’t and we should be doing more to help.

  8. Feel sad and have seen many such sites in India also. It requires courage to visit such places and do something for them. Appreciate and all the best.

  9. Guys this is heartbreaking. I saw a very similar situation in Honduras, when I was living in a slum working as a volunteer with an NGO. Some of the poorest kids would live among the rubbish because the fermentation generated heat and so they could keep warm. It was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. I am in touch with the NGO 13 years after. Wishing your efforts go a long way to help them out

  10. What an awakening post! Not often will you find travel bloggers that bring awareness to the other side of travel – the heartbreaking need of the third world countries. I was in Cebu and was struck by the hundreds of homeless children. It was heartbreaking. After my recent trip to Rwanda, I started my own small non-profit to help bring awareness and much needed supplies, medicines, and food to the millions in need.

    Thank you for your efforts! Great job guys!

  11. Hey Anna,
    Thanks for taking the time to visit this place! Camille and I have been trying to figure out a schedule to do so since we’ve gotten back. We’re hoping to joing you guys when you go back. I can’t imagine what you guys felt going through this. Love that your doing your part and hopefully we can pick up the slack as well on our side.
    Love from Megamall,


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