Pagpag



The You Tube video clip is both gut wrenching and heart breaking. (Warning: That video and this article are not for the weak.)

Late at night, Mang Boy would scrounge the trash looking for recyclables. Ignoring the stench, he would move from one pile to another. The next day, his wife would sort out the junk. Other than paper, styro cups and plastic utensils, she also sets aside the leftover food her husband collected from the garbage bin of restaurants. A half eaten chicken breast here. A piece of pork ribs there. She would then shake or clean off the dirt. That’s why it is called “pagpag” (In English, “shake off”). But she is not going to feed it to pigs or dogs. A box of leftover would fetch a measly fifty pesos. A nearby
karinderia or food stall buys them. The cook would separate the meat from the bones. Then she washes the meat twice in hot water. After that, she cooks it. A dish of “pagpag” would usually cost ten pesos. But fried “pagpag” would cost fifteen pesos. Maybe because people think it’s safer to eat since they guess the boiling oil would kill off any bacteria.

Those buying it know that it is “pagpag.” Recycled food. Or, to be more graphic, recycled refuse. But, even so, they eat it. They also claim it’s delicious. In that stall, they sell three pots of “pagpag” everyday. They don’t mind the exposure to salmonella and other harmful bacteria. To them, it is “laman-tiyan” (food for the stomach). The desire for survival made “pagpag” palatable.

It is too easy to point an accusing finger to the government. But keep in mind the proverbial three fingers pointing back to us. What are we going to do about this? It is not as simple as giving alms or handing out biscuits to children knocking at our car windows when we stop for a red light in an intersection. We could do more than that.

On judgment day, the Lord would commend those who fed him. The righteous would wonder, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?” He would answer, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

Brethren, let us not feed “pagpag” to the Lord.

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