By Kristine Angeli Sabillo
Black smoke rises from a pile of burning metal wire, releasing a strong, sharp and chemical smell that makes one’s eyes water.
The sight and smell of burning metal is common at Smokey Mountain, a former landfill in Manila that officially closed down two decades ago.
But the looming mountain of trash has remained an attractive source of livelihood among scavengers who sell the scrap metal exposed by the slow-burning fire for almost P200 per kilo.
Among regular buyers of such electronic trash is Danilo (not his real name), who has lived all his life at Smokey Mountain, where old gadgets disposed of are either dismantled and sold for parts, or repaired and find a second life.
He was born in the area in 1960, said Danilo who acknowledges that buying scrap metal from scavengers and reselling them can be dangerous.
“Sometimes you’ll get injured (when you dismantle old electronics),” he said. “Sometimes when you break things open, some parts will hit you,” he added. As for burning copper wire, they’re careful to keep the fires small and under control, he said. Continue reading