One of the things that one often notices when traveling from North America, is that there seems to be garbage everywhere compared to other places. Everywhere there is lots of garbage, on the side of highways, streets and other places. Seldom will one find garbage cans, rather, any plastic or other garbage will be dropped wherever, and it will be cleaned at another time. It seems that this mindset is changing some but it is slow changing, with it well instilled even in the children.
This is not to say that the Filipino people are dirty or unclean. They simply have a mindset that is somewhat different from ours. Each and every morning you will see ladies in front of their homes, business owners in front of their businesses sweeping up and then burning the garbage. sometimes if there is a place where there is an over-excess of garbage it will be done multiple times a day. This is not to say that there aren’t places where no garbage abounds. It does. There are many places where garbage has just been dumped or the homeowner has not taken very good care and so there is still a lot of garbage in areas. In these areas, you will see more cockroaches, rats, mice, and other vermin. This is just something that you have to get used to. There are many barangays (suburbs/ villages) that have garbage collection once a week and this eases the congestion of garbage.
On the Flip side, Recycling has boomed. There are on many streets a home or a small business where people can bring certain recyclable items and get paid for them. Some of the things that pays off real well are when they get the iron re-bar and the copper from fans and other electrical items. Because of the increase in recycling people are taking in their older broken things to get some money out of it, and then the recyclers get an even bigger amount when they bring it in; so it is a win-win. They have on occasion problems with garbage getting into the drain pipes, into the waterways, like creeks and rivers and more open bodies of water like lakes, reservoirs, and bays. it is being recognized as being a real problem and things are being done to counter this ongoing problem. The dump areas in Manila are full of poor people going through the piles of garbage to try and find something that can be used, be sold, be eaten, or made into something else. The stench in certain areas (especially in the poorer areas where the pollution problem is the greatest) is enough to drive even a person without the sense of smell loopy. Another area of great smell is when passing the large pigs farms. Mass amounts of pig feces from all the swine at these enormous pig farms is put into a pit and later used for fertilizer for farming. when you pass these places you can’t help but cover your face to avoid the stench of pigs despite sometimes being over a thousand yards away from the nearest road or highway.
Until the mindset of the people changes, there will be little change and we will have to get used to it. In the meantime, we make people aware of the negative environmental effects on air, water, and soil. It is something that we ourselves cannot do much about so we have to change what we can and accept what we cannot. As a foreigner, the best advice I could give… consider it, and everything else in the culture that seems very backwards, as an adventure. enjoy the ride, take it in. Adapt, take pictures, ask lots of questions and try to understand from their perspective why it is they do what they do. Have fun with it, and participate in the good parts of the culture. Live like a Filipino. Learn the culture the customs and practices and when they don’t go against your conscience or God’s word get involved. Be the adventurer. Ingat (take care)