27 YEARS of accumulated muck and filth have turned into a mountain of garbage known as the Payatas Dump. Meager opportunites attracted the poor to settle in the area producing income by scavenging the trash.
Today, more than 80,000 people live in the shanty-town that surrounds the dump. Ironically, the community is called "Lupang Pangako" which means the Promised Land.
The original Payatas Estate covered parts of the Municipalities of Montalban and San Mateo. When Quezon City was formed, more than half of the estate became part of the city.
The Quezon City government designated 23.3 hectares of the estate as a dumpsite.
When former President Fidel Ramos closed the infamous Smokey Mountain in 1993, most of the 6,500 tons of Metro Manila's daily garbage was diverted to Payatas and the neighboring San Mateo landfill. Smokey Mountain has developed into a residential and commercial area since.
In June 1998, the newly elected President Estrada was challenged by Ramos to do something about the situation in Payatas. Estrada, who considers the Payatas dumpsite an "eyesore" ordered the closure of the dumpsite in September 1998 and formed the Task Force for the Development of Payatas.
The Task Force was assigned to implement the closure and develop the area into a housing site for the scavengers to occupy.
But nothing was heard from the Task Force since it was formed. Dump trucks continued to dispose garbage in the site and absolutely no housing development was done.
On October 29, 1998, four shanties were buried by garbage, but no one was killed. However, the July 10 trash avalanche this year claimed hundreds of lives.
(the Promised Land)