The Smell of Burning Garbage in the Morning

On a regular basis, I wake and encounter the lovely smell of burning trash.  It’s not like I am living in a small town with no garbage collection, I am living in Davao, one of the 3 most populous cities of the Philippines!  Part of the problem is the city will only pick up the trash at certain places, usually one of the larger streets, and pinoy are just too lazy to take the trash there.  Some of them might have to walk a kilometer to get to the trash cans put out by the city, so I have some sympathy for their plight. 

Of course, if they are going to the street to take a jeepney, they could take the trash with them, but that would take planning now, wouldn’t it?  So they just burn their garbage, usually to start the day, but sometimes during the day, or at the end of it.  In other words, in one of the 3 most populous cities of the Philippines, I get the privilege of  having the lovely scent of burning trash wafting through my place on a regular basis!
Just today, as I was walking to Abreeza,0 there was a pile of smoldering garbage alongside the main thoroughfare! I wonder if they have any idea of the dangers of breathing in the smoke of burnt plastic?  I always hope that they are getting a good lung-full of it, as it will reduce their life expectancy, and their ability to pollute the environment.  At times there have been 3 or 4 of these piles of burning garbage around my place, and one time the neighbor had such a big trash fire that the smoke was rolling down the street, making it look like we had heavy fog!

Of course, sometimes they don’t want to burn the trash, but they don’t want to walk all the way to the main street, cross to the other side (where it is picked up), and put it in the pile (it often overflows the garbage cans provided for it), so they just get a ways away from their house and drop it into the open drainage ditch.  Job done!  Right?  Right!

P. S.  It looks like Duterte will run for President.  I guess his campaign slogan could be “The Philippines are too clean, we can spread the garbage around!”  Maybe also “The Philippines uses too much electricity, so rotational brown-outs will be national policy” (We had 2 brown-outs of about an hour duration each a few days ago, and another of about 45 minutes last night. (I know that he isn’t in charge of Davao Power and Light, but with as much clout as he has around here, I am sure he could have pushed them to do more a long time ago.))

Published in Filipino Stupidity


  1. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
    Pissnoy Allergy

    I believe, that if I put a blind fold over my eyes, and someone led me through a random plane journey to different locations around the world, of which the Philippines would be one, and led me just outside each airport before taking another flight, I would be able to tell when I had arrived in the Philippines just from the distinct bad smell in the air.

    1. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
      Captain PFB

      Funny, because one of the first things I said to my partner when I stepped out of NAIA upon my first arrival here was, “damn, what’s that awful smell?”

      1. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
        Pissnoy Allergy

        The one thing that struck me first, before the bad smell, when I first stepped into the Philippines outside of MIA was the humidity. So my reaction was: “Damn, what am I breathing, is it soup?”

        1. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
          Pissnoy Allergy

          Maybe my sense of smell was not that good at the moment, because I got sick on the air plane from Singapore to Cebu. When the plane touched down on the MIA runway, I actually had my face down in one of those paper bags, throwing up. Yes, that is right, folks, I actually arrived in the Philippines puking. Should have taken that as an omen 😉

      2. Profile gravatar of Mike

        Here one for you. Mother in law lived in a nipa on stilts with an outhouse in the back and is 79 so she was about 77 when this happened. She would get up in the am and piss in a chamber pot, open the windows to let fresh air and light in. Then would drop the pot out the window by her bed THEN would go to the cr to clean her pot. Well one day some neighbors asked if they could get some dirt from under her house and she said yes. So here come neighbors sons with shovel and pails and start digging the dirt under the window where she dumps her piss pot.

        I was about 10 foot away when they broke ground and the strong smell of piss went through the air gagging the pinoys and me. All I can think of is that she had been dumping the piss pot there for years, it was that bad.

          1. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
            Pissnoy Allergy

            Did they manage to use the dirt for anything useful, afterwards? I mean most crop requires a certain carbon to nitrogen ratio in the soil to thrive, and urine soaked dirt seems to be too high on the nitrogen part of the equation.

          2. Profile gravatar of Angel

            The funny thing is that they still continued to dig after the initial assault.

      3. Profile gravatar of jgramsay

        I remember my first flight into Manila nearly 25 years ago. At the time, Manila still didn’t have chutes for the passenger to get into the airport terminal building and had to go down the stairs. When the door opened and I was stepping out and the overwhelming smell came over me. It was a choking and noxious mixture. It’s also before the Philippines changed to unleaded gasoline and so there was a heavy dose of leaded fuel.

  2. Profile gravatar of Mike

    We lived in a small town close to a sandy beach. While sitting on the beach, toes in the sand filipinos would come out of their houses, dig a hole about a foot deep in the sand and bury their garbage. Then when tide comes in and uncovers it there is trash everywhere. Walk down the beach and the houses had a pipe from the shitter that emptied on the beach.

    Has anyone seen a beach here where there is not broken glass, flip flops, diapers, plastic bottles, snack wrappers and other trash scattered about?

    1. Profile gravatar of emrys

      actually,yeah, in my secret hideaway here in the phil. none of that. might be the only clean spot though. still not going to tell you guys about it though. yep,totally being greedy, but I come from the woods and need that place to counteract all the insanity.

  3. Profile gravatar of Mike

    You know it’s bad when you drive 30 minutes out of a small city then take a pump boat for 30 more minutes to an uninhabited island to swim. Clear water to the island but trash all over the shore, land and floating in the water. No one lives there and they still trashed it up!

  4. Profile gravatar of FHPS

    Theyre obsessed about trash
    In thus country.

    That used to piss me off too
    Burning plastic bags smell and plastics wafting from nearby businesses and street sweepers.

    I even see garbage being burned by the water ..theory probably goes the tode will.wash it away

      1. Profile gravatar of FHPS

        Hey…multi tasking!! I seen tyem burning plastics on the bbq’s at the roadside eateries. Nothing like improvising to get a decent flame going…and on goes the fish, chicken.etc

  5. Profile gravatar of Mike

    Ever notice them “clean” the area around there house? They will get out their on their hands and knees, pull grass, weeds then pick up branches, grass,weeds and such and burn it. But will make no effort to pick up glass, nails, paper, plastic, metal caps and so on. I think they hate anything green that grows and prefer to have trash scattered everywhere.

    1. Profile gravatar of Phil Doh
      Phil Doh

      So true, Mike. I always noticed how in any subdivision where there is a vacant lot it just becomes a dumping ground for trash. Where I used to live somebody would go in once in awhile and chop down all the weeds and plants from the vacant lots, then still leave the trash there. I came to the conclusion that pinoys just like seeing trash everywhere.

  6. Profile gravatar of Sarah

    I had to fence off my city property back in 2012 because the neighbors were using it as a garbage dump…including a chicken coop!! The Pinoy who did the fencing charged me too much money and he did a real crap job, did not dig a deep enough hole for the posts, now the fence has to be redone. Damn lazy, incompetent Flip.

    I have been contemplating selling the whole lot and buying a townhouse or condo because my Aunt just fill my land with garbage. Every time I return to the RP, I’ll spend money getting it cleaned up, then 10 months later it’s full of plastics, bottles, old tins, wood etc. I kept telling her “why don’t you get rid of this garbage and don’t use my land as your garbage dump!”. But like majority of Flips, she’s thick as a brick!! The trade off for buying a condo or townhouse is, I won’t have enough land to do even grow a patch of spring onions, but at least I won’t have to deal with garbage!

    And yes, she burns garbage too…. on my property! They have garbage collection twice a week, but she does not put her garbage out because if you don’t go back straight away to retrieve your garbage bin, they’d get stolen!!! It’s more fun in the Failippines!!

    1. Profile gravatar of 30-30

      To Sarah
      You would almost think someone would offer to rent that lot and plant veggies!!!!!!
      They get the veggies,, you a little income,,, ?????

      1. Profile gravatar of Sarah

        Al, I had someone rent my house up until July if this year. I don’t have any furnitures there except an antique wardrobe which belonged to my late Grandfather, which I am using to store my personal stuff and clothes. That cabinet is locked up when I’m back in Oz. My Aunt was pretty selective with tenants. We only rent to people we know. Well, I was not impressed with the last tenant….they broke the locks of the antique cabinet. Don’t know what they were expecting to find there? As if I’d put gold or money in there, stupid thieving Flips! So told my Aunt I don’t want to rent my house again. Not worth the money.

        My Aunt is growing her own vegetables there, but as tend to happen with these inconsiderate Filipinos, they let their goats wander and eat anything and everything. What’s it with these morons? If you don’t even have enough space to play ball with your kids, then don’t fucking raise fucking goats!!!! Stupid inconsiderate mother fuckers!!

        Somebody out there tell me there are decent, hard-working Flips left in Pinas who would do a decent job, and not rip me off. EVERY Flip tradesman I hired over the last few years have ALWAYS (hear that, Ace?) ALWAYS, done a shit job. And I’m a generous employer, I pay
        Well and always made sure my workers are fed good food and on time. Made no iota of difference. They still do shit job, asks for advance wages all the time, then had the gall to ask for a tip!!

        So yesterday, been let down by a Flip tradesman again. When I was in the RP, this carpenter was keen to work. So I arranged for him to replace my fence (on my city property). A so called Flip “carpenter” did such an awful job only 3 years ago, fence need fixing again.

        As mentioned earlier, fencing is a necessity because of 1)goats eating all our crops and 2) to stop the asshole Flip neighbours from dumping their garbage on to my property.

        So I sent fare money to the carpenter I’d recruited from mum’s province to fix my city fence. Fare money was very generous. He was supposed to turn up in the city yesterday to start work on my property. No fucking show!!!!! I told Auntie to contact his wife and find out what’s going on. I haven’t heard a thing to date, hence I’m ventilating here (thanks Filo! 🙂 ).

        So, if I ever hear anyone say that these Flips are honest, reliable, hardworking etc bullshit, I will use Al as target practice!! (sorry Al) 🙂

        1. Profile gravatar of Random Numbers
          Random Numbers Post author

          Even Thai think that pinoy are boastful and pretty much useless. I dated a Thai woman in Phuket about 10 years ago, she had worked as a chocolatier at the Mandarin Oriental prior to moving to Phuket. She told me she had no respect for filipinos because they all either lied to get the job, or had a seriously inflated view of their abilities. She said they would claim to be experts when they could barely do the job, or needed to be trained to do it! It’s sad when the rest of the ASEAN nations look down on you as being lazy, uneducated, and boastful.

          1. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
            Pissnoy Allergy

            Ask some Chinese what they think about the Pinoys, and you will have an answer that is telling it even more bluntly.

  7. Profile gravatar of emrys

    my gf and and me last year had this problem. doing my workout in the morning and then all this smoke came into our place. across the river in the shanty town that was there, they were burning their garbage. I shut all the windows and had to live with garbage smoke for a few days. my girl finally found out when they were burning garbage so we could be prepared, because seriously, totally smoked up the place like it was on fire. as long as we closed all the windows, it wasn’t so bad….but they were those glass shutter types so smoke still got in. between that and the concrete dust that got all over the place, we actually left and got a hotel room for my last couple months there. I’m sort of amazed at how inconsiderate most people there are. never thinking”oh,maybe this will bother people”. the concrete dust was from a condo going up and they had saws going for 16 hours a day. we left for a vacation to Bohol and when we got back,dust everywhere. my girl couldn’t even believe what a mess it was. seriously, half inch of dust. she has asthma so I said lets just look for a hotel to stay in for the last few months so we can have a clean environment…..just a plug…hopefully filo won’t be to pissed at the suggestion, but check out allson’s in Cebu city. good place to be for a short time. 18000 is their monthly rate,cleaning staff won’t rip you off if you leave money around. I seriously left my wallet on the table and nothing missing from it….but totally still be prudent in securing your cash. I actually looked around my room and found an awesome spot for a secret stash. I lived there for 2 months and nothing taken. if your smart,you’ll see that stash spot in the room. every room has it. but back to the garbage smoke,yeah,it super sucks. but my neighbor out here in the woods does the same shit. a km away and it still floats through the woods to stink up my place. we only get to drop of garbage 2 days a week. so I’m sort of used to it. but there,it was literally right out the window only 20 feet away. we actually had to go on the floor to breath because it was that heavy of smoke. like the place was on fire….which I sort of thought was happening at first.

    1. Profile gravatar of BLX2

      I haven’t had to deal with 100% garbage being burned.It’s always been grass clippings and brush, but they also always seem to have plastic mixed in with it. It’s toxic as all hell, filling up your house with toxic smoke for hours so they don’t have to waste their precious time properly disposing of garbage. Yeah, illegal to smoke even a e cigarette in public here, but engulfing others in toxic smoke, no problem.

  8. Profile gravatar of Hey Joe
    Hey Joe

    As is oh, so normal in these parts, my dumb as a bag of hammers neighbors all toss the trash in a small lot between their houses.
    It sits for a number of days feeding the rats & wandering dogs until nicely scattered,fermented and soaking wet.
    Then they will get around to putting a match to it…or try.
    After they get it going, it will smolder and stink of plastic for days.

    Well, silly me, I buy a old scrap 55gal drum. Cut the top off. Cut many 2-3inch holes in the bottom.
    Place it on top of a home made stand made out of welded-up rebar about 1foot off the ground.
    Use the cut top as a cover to keep the trash somewhat dry and keeps the dogs out till I put a match to it.
    Very smokeless, and nothing left but the tin cans in less than 20min once a week.

    To stupid and lazy to do a simple thing like this to not suck in as much of the toxic gases.
    Stupid is as stupid does ~Forest Gump

  9. Profile gravatar of

    There may come to a day when FLIPS burn dog shit or their own shit on streets. You’ll never know how these monkeys are capable of doing 🙂

  10. Profile gravatar of Barry Smyth
    Barry Smyth

    Septic tanks here in Angeles you can smell them all over the place this is a disaster waiting to happen washing your shit etc into the water table with no controls.
    I will not go into the trash around just dropped on the ground everywhere nobody cares —–

  11. Profile gravatar of roadking

    I also bought a 55 gallon oil drum for trash disposal, & guess what , some one stole it ! I bought another one , Chained in to the ground , & someone stole it !.
    I mean these were fucked old rusty pieces of crap , but someone had to steal it ! . I beggars belief…