Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Straight Road or the Sea of Garbage

It is rainy season here once again, just the other day, the less than fifteen minutes downpour already caused flooding in affected parts of the metropolis. Flooding for such a short span of rainfall only means one thing, clogged drainage. Too bad it is getting worse year after year despite government efforts in improving the waterways and sewerage. And too bad we are experiencing an abnormal weather pattern that PAGASA already warned us of La NiƱa, an above normal rainfall, I hate to imagine if the rainfall would be longer than fifteen minutes. Just before election, I had this urge to bring to the attention of our mayor the worsening state of cleanliness in the metro. I got the idea from WWF on a good way to help in WWF’s environmental campaign where they encourage people to write to local politicians to demand that they do more to protect the environment. So that's what I did, here is the abridged version of my email message:

I wrote to you out of concern for the environment and in the hope that the alarming condition of our filthy streets will be given appropriate attention and action. I recognize the fact and I am thankful that you are doing best efforts to make our city at par with the rest of the world’s cities but sadly it seems that it doesn’t even come close to other places when we talk of street cleanliness. Yes there are garbage collectors and dump trucks roving around and I see street sweepers each morning who are supposed to do the job of keeping every nook as clean as possible. Yes it has improved over the years when it comes to garbage collection system but despite of all these efforts, I am saddened by the fact that rubbish still lingers anywhere even in major thoroughfare which is too far from the impression we somehow wish to project.

In this condition sir, may I suggest some poi
nts that I hope will upgrade the city’s rating on cleanliness.

Firstly, there should be garbage bins strategically located in each street for people to get used to throwing their trash in proper places. I admire the City of Davao for having such discipline and for investing in large trash bins located in almost every street corner.

Secondly, heads of each community must be strict in the implementation of cleanliness program and fine or penalize households that are not following RA 9003. Isn’t it strange that despite the dissemination of information in the local government units regarding this law, most people are still not following proper waste disposal, I doubt if they were even aware of this law?

Thirdly, mobilize the youth (“Sangguniang Kabataan) to undertake community service such as street cleaning, planting or watering plants during weekends. Such a good way to instill awareness and active involvement among the youth on the importance of keeping our surroundings clean and orderly and on starting a sensible cause on the issue of climate change rather than tolerate them spending most of their time surfing the internet which in one way or another also contribute to heat and carbon emission.

Fourthly, we can follow other cities like in Puerto Princesa, Palawan where people has this commitment of planting trees and different kinds of flora in a given period of time (especially for couples who are about to get married). Their place has been tagged as the “city within a forest or forest within a city” because of that commitment. Although it would seem a herculean task, I know you can make a difference by passing an ordinance for idle lots to be converted to urban gardens. That at least could help curb the air pollution in the city and eventually help to lessen the greenhouse effect. I was informed that some lot owners (I am referring to lots which are not being used or idle) prefer to have bare lots rather than plant a tree on it because anything planted are considered improvement which are all subject to additional tax. Is it possible to change the rule that instead of imposing tax on every tree planted on the lot, discounts should be given to lot owners on their real property taxes? That way, lot owners would be encouraged to use their lots for a very sensible purpose. If idle lot cannot be used as a living space for humans, at least make it as a living space for plants.

Lastly, the rules are already there, what is needed is the strict implementation of those rules. Authorities, residents and visitors alike MUST be informed of the strict and serious implementation of these rules and violators must be penalized. I think it is more effective if penalty should NOT be in the form of money but through community service because if we allow a mistake to be paid then the same cycle will just go on, offenders will only have the thought that they can get away with anything for as long as they have money unlike when they render community service, they will surely learn from their mistakes. I have high regard for Singapore for their strict implementation of laws on cleanliness and orderliness thus even Filipinos are very much disciplined there which gives me a ray of hope that it can also be done here.

I hope that these points will be given due cons
ideration. I trust that in the next few days, we will all be able to see the changing face of the city.

Surprisingly it reaped positive action from our local government just days after I sent the email. I was more than thankful that they really made an effort to diligently clean up the city every morning however I noticed that their action was rendered unsuccessful as the city easily gets back to its filthy state just before sundown. An apparent reason all points to the lack of discipline on proper waste disposal of the residents within the area. It is so disappointing that there are people who totally disregard the law and lack the concern for their surrounding, and they seem to have multiplied over the years. If you happen to read my related post "from peanut shells to junk food wrapper" about one parent who couldn't care enough to teach her child to dispose of his garbage properly, it will be more likely that no matter how great the efforts of the government to improve the drainage system or how frequently they collect the garbage, the problem will still remain. It will be hard for us to get off from this mess unless we start to discipline ourselves and to teach younger children to be more conscious of every piece of litter that we get rid of.

I remember a campaign song of one presidential candidate in the 2010 election “nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?” (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage?) though it was not meant to directly inform the public about the perennial problem on careless dumping of waste, still it rings a bell. Maybe most residents in Metro Manila, rich and poor alike already experienced swimming through filthy waters late last year during typhoon Ketsana (“Ondoy”). Just in case we have already forgotten, here are some snapshots from that tragedy (all Ondoy-related pictures re-posted with permission from

It is about time that we put heartily what President Benigno Aquino said, that we all must head to the straight path, that we all should aim to become part of the solution and not of the problem. Are you in for this call?

We all must be responsive and responsible and we better act now while we still have a choice. The straight road or the sea of garbage, what scene do you prefer?


  1. Thankfully although we have had some bad floods in South Africa, things are at least dry at the moment. With the World Cup our cities were cleaned up quite a bit so that was another problem temporarily sorted out....but for how long?

    Sadly in the 3rd World there are many problems and I feel although Governments state to the World they care about the environment it is probably just an excuse to fly to conferences all over so they can live in style and party while they are away rather than do anything positive afterwards.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jackie. =) Hopefully with our new government everything will turn out for the best. Our new president is very much keen on doing something for the environment that past administrations had overlooked. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  3. Hey, thanks for Nang @ Luxury Indulgence & I've done the same.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing & look fwd to your comments @ Luxury Indulgence :)

  4. It was really dangerous. As your government is taking good care of you, hope you all are able to overcome this problem. However, all of you must take care of your cleaning services for good health.