Happy People of Happyland
Hundreds of families of scavengers eke out a living at a large garbage dump in Manila, Philippines called Happyland.
The term "Happyland" comes from the word hapilan, a local term for a dump site - an ironic name for one. Most of the scavengers in Happyland come from Sitio Damayan in Barangay 105 in Tondo, Manila, Philippines. Aside from scavenging, people here also work as charcoal makers.
Scavengers earn a measly eighty pesos (USD 2.00) for a day's work while the charcoal makers are better off with two hundred pesos (USD 5.00). Scavengers collect mostly recyclable materials such as plastics, bottles, and metal parts where they exchange them at nearby junk shops. They also salvage any wood from the dump and nearby construction sites for the charcoal makers to produce charcoal from.
The charcoal kilns are inside the residential complex and smoke from producing charcoal envelops the whole community. The smoke is so thick it can suffocate instantly. These kilns blow off smoke from sun up to sun down as charcoal-making takes days to complete.
One had to be constantly reminded by the Philippine flags all over the place that Sitio Damayan is still a part of the country. Yet these folks, though living in sub-human conditions, are a happy lot. They are wearing the same smile you see with people at designer coffee shops.