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Happy Land Philippines

The site where Happy land is located today was once a small village by the sea, the houses of fishing families connected by wooden walkways, a place for children to gather mussels, oysters, and starfish from Manila Bay. Then 55 years ago the burgeoning city of Manila started dumping its garbage there, the fishers became dump scavengers, and the bay turned into a poisoned lagoon. By the 1970s, the site became the city’s primary dump site and a magnet for peasants fleeing poverty and war in the countryside. If the new migrants could find work nowhere else in Manila, they could always launch themselves into the mounting pile of garbage to tease out scraps of metal or glass that they could sell for cash. They built their homes—using materials they rescued from the dump—beside the dump, and even on top of it. Occasionally the mountain of trash would collapse on their houses, or the smouldering fire would ignite dozens of shanties at a time. Their lives were so intertwined with the dump that they became indistinguishable from the garbage, disposable people generated by an increasingly consumerist society.

 

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