Friday, February 23, 2018


Garbage scavengers in the impoverished Manila area of Tondo are not looking just for re-usable goods among the rubbish but, increasingly, for food to feed their families.Ever wonder what happens to restaurant leftovers?

 In the Philippine capital, Manila, meat is recycled from landfill tips, washed and re-cooked. It's called "pagpag" and it's eaten by the poorest people who can't afford to buy fresh meat. Pagpag is the product of a hidden food system for the urban poor that exists on the leftovers. 

“A lot of scavengers sell recycled food that they segregate from other waste. It’s common practice around here,” said Tondo resident Amy Ignacio, who has been collecting trash from a fast-food restaurant for the past six years. Feeling it was wasteful to throw away leftover chicken with some meat remaining, she re-cooks it to make pagpag to feed her children. “With the kind of life we live, this helps a lot. When you buy a bag worth a few pesos, you can already feed one whole family,” Ignacio said.

Families clean the leftover food by dusting it off (pagpagin). To be extra sure, others wash the leftovers before boiling or frying – modifying someone’s dinner leftovers into someone else’s breakfast.

Pagpag is also a business. Some food scavengers sell their pagpag, sometimes giving discounts to neighbors and patrons. Health professionals warn against the dangers of eating pagpag. They are at risk of getting salmonella and other illnesses. Eating nothing but pagpag can be detrimental to children’s health for they are not getting the nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Despite these warnings, some families say they have no other choice. It’s either pagpag or nothing at all.
What is pagpag  “Pagkain ng mahirap (food of the poor)."

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