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Street Food Smokey Mountain

Street Food Smokey Mountain

If you don’t know the Philippines while being very lovely also has some of the worst income inequality in the world. This means that there are some rather infamous slums, chief among them being Smokey Mountain, or as it is sometimes known Paradise Heights.

Now I could write forever about why there are slums quite literally next to luxurious hotels, but it would be of little point or consequence. All you really meed to know here is that while there are slums, they are generally full of good people only trying to do the best by their families.

What the Smokey Mountain?

Smokey Mountain lies on the outskirts of “Manila” just 15 minutes or so walk from Ermita, as well as being next to the Manila Hotel. Said hotel we visit after Smokey Mountain to extol then virtues of just how extreme the Philippines can get.

We have personal ran tours here for a number of years as part of our own Extreme Philippines trip, not as a zoo like thing, but to show people that not everything is roses in the Philippines.

You can read a take on why there is so much poverty here, as well as a report on the rebranding here.

Nowadays most of the people here work in trash, as in sorting through plastic, bottles and glass in order to earn a meagre living while living very much and to mouth in truly saddening circumstances.

Street Food Smokey Mountain – The economics of a slum

One of the most amazing things about Smokey Mountain is not just how “normal” life is, but how people make money here. And there are a whole lot of schemes to do this. Of course and as mentioned most of the people earn their money from trash, but there is also an entrepreneurial spirit.

This comes in too many forms to mention here, but includes the sub-selling of everything from electricity to water and internet. There is also a fairly huge services economy with people setting up shops almost everywhere, as well as laundrettes, internet cafes and of course restaurants.

Said restaurants cover the full expanse of what is Filipino street food, duly consisting of the good, bad and quite frankly sickening.

The Pag Pag Queen

The most controversial dish and one which I will give its own article is Pag Pag. This dish consists of people going out and dumpster diving before taking the food to restaurants to be cleaned. Said food is then cleaned agin, before being fried up, cooked and served.

We will cover the health issues of this later, but for now at least it is required for people to get sustenance for cheap. Most famous among these purveyors is the Pag Pag Queen, who you can see in the photos and video.

General Street Food Smokey Mountain

General street food, mainly of the Filipino BBQ is also everywhere here, with lesser cuts of meat generally making the grade. We saw this with the popularity of chicken heads being shown to us.

You also see a lot of cheap juices which uses boiled and then cooled water with syrup to amen a refreshing drink that is much cheaper than a #Royal and #ColaQuest. I personally went for a green drink, which most people thought I was mad for trying. It cost just 5 peso, as opposed to 25 for a “real soda”. These kind of cheap drinks I have not seen since Rason in North Korea, with the level of poverty thus being apparent.

So, while Smokey Mountain and the Smokey Mountain street food scene are not things you should go by yourself to, should you come as part of a group the humanity and indeed street food might surprise you.