For these desperate poor Filipinos, scavenged leftover food from garbage bins of fast-food restaurants, markets, and dumpsites are the only means of surviving hunger.
These leftover pieces of rice and meat scraps are cleaned and re-cooked as a meal called pagpag, which literally translates to “dusted-off food.” Selling pagpag has even become a profitable business in poverty-stricken areas in Manila.
“We sell it to survive,” she said. “The income is what we use to live on. Plus, people here need this.”
Asian Boss host Joshua even tried eating a serving of Mama Rosita’s pagpag dish.
“If you get past the idea that this is leftover fast food chicken, it’s not actually bad,” the host said, commenting on the taste. “But still, no person on earth deserves to live off food right out of the dumpster right?”
Pagpag has been the main source of income for 64-year-old Norberto Lucion, who earns 180 Philippine pesos ($3.53) per day from recycling leftover food. Every day for the past 12 years, the former restaurant assistant cook has been buying buckets of leftover chicken meat and bones from food chains via a regular supplier at around 30 Php to 70 Php per bucket.
Using about two gallons of water sourced from their neighborhood’s water faucet, Lucion washes the chicken twice before preparing his chicken pagpag dishes, which usually take the form of adobo or kaldereta when he’s done cooking.
In the past decade, pagpag has been covered in various television documentaries, highlighting the extreme hunger in the Philippines. Its prevalence to the present day shows little to no change has come to the plight of the poor Filipinos.
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