Filipino Environmentalists We Should All Be Proud Of

Salute to all Filipino environmentalists

The Philippines ranks third highest in the list of countries with mismanaged waste.

On an article by John H. Tibbetts, Managing Marine Plastic Pollution: Policy Initiatives to Address Wayward Waste, published on Environmental Health Perspectives, he shared this:

The United States makes a significant contribution to marine plastic pollution, but it’s only twentieth on the list of coastal nations that produce the most plastic waste from land. The top spots are filled by a number of rapidly developing countries with expanding populations near coastlines and poor systems of waste management, including China, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Tibbetts got this from Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean, a scientific study by Jambeck JR, et al.

GMA News reported this, naturally, and even shared it on their social network account. While the news itself could be considered shocking, what struck us more is the “unpopularity” of this type of news among Filipinos. I say unpopular because 15 hours after posting, only 110 people have shared the post (direct contrast to thousand shares when it’s entertainment news).

This is unusual for a country obsessed with sharing almost everything on facebook – and sad because this is the type of story that we need to actually share and care for.

Perhaps, it has a lot to do with it being absolutely embarrassing for the country to rank third on a global list – and not in a “Proud to be Pinoy” way, as one of the commenters sarcastically posted. But you know what, there are a few reasons why, despite being negatively on top of this garbage list, we can still be proud.

Here’s why:

1. This old man who cleans the creek.

Brgy. E. Rodriguez Clean-Up of the Diliman Creek

This old man “sacrifices” his very own health (no boots, no gloves) to pick up garbage floating on the creek.  They say there is wisdom as one grows older, and maybe, Manong here knows that there’s more value in investing time cleaning up the creeks so his great grandchildren would eventually be able to swim and fish the way he did when he was younger (or he could be single and perhaps, he is cleaning the creek for your children). We do not know him but, Manong, you deserve a shoutout.

2. These young men who also clean the creek.

Clean-up of the Palico Creek

Even while they are on the boat, these manongs (without boots and gloves too, astig pinoy thug life!) have also chosen to remove the shocking amount of garbage behind the outpost in Palico Creek, instead of just “hanging out”. They spent hours removing these wastes to make sure that water would flow smoothly from the creek to the Laguna Lake. In so doing, they have helped prevent any future flooding in the area, and so saving their neighbors’ lives and properties.

3. This Barangay Leader who teaches vermi-composting.

Vermicomposting with Barangay leader Nanay Myrna of Talipapa, Quezon City

Barangay leader Nanay Myrna of Talipapa, Quezon City shares her vermi-composting experience with the other residents in their community. I remember the first time we met Nanay Myrna during a barangay session, she shared how devastated they were after Ondoy, recognized it was partly their fault (throwing garbage on the river nearby), and that it was a great wake up call for them to be dead-serious on proper waste management. Now, they are really segregating (and maintaining mini-gardens too)!

4. This young boy demonstrating proper garbage segregation.

Brgy. 164, Caloocan (Save the Tullahan River)

This smart boy shows how proper segregation is done in one of our solid waste management demo sessions in their barangay, for the Save the Tullahan River project. He gladly volunteered to show his neighbors he can segregate, as all of them actually claimed that they do. They have their own mini-Materials Recovery Facility in their barangay too — and they really know the value of recyclables.

5. This Woman Environment Advocate for life (and the many others like her from all sectors).

Livelihood from “wastes” with Ofelia Panganiban of the Ecowaste Coalition

Ofelia Panganiban of the Ecowaste Coalition facilitated the livelihood seminar for senior citizens during one of our solid waste management barangay sessions. She is among the many other environmental advocates in the country, who have dedicated their lives training, molding, and inspiring people to love and do more for the environment.

These are initiatives – by the government, the NGOs, the academe, business, civil society – without which, we would even have been at the very top of the list. We are not “not effective”. We just need to care more, share more, do more.

So you see, despite the report on the country being the third in terms of garbage mismanagement, we can be proud that there are many hardworking Filipinos who have been doing the right thing all these years, trying to make the country cleaner, safer, and better for all — even if it seems almost impossible. We recognize that there is a problem, but let us also highlight that we are collectively acting to resolve this. There is hope. In an ocean of garbage, it is inspiring to see fishes not giving up, and still swimming.

Be proud because even Ocean Conservancy itself reports of a city (coastal community) in the Philippines “setting an example for the world”, in terms of solid waste management.

Plus, you know what? You can help too — and that, on its own, will make you even more proud to be Pinoy.

Hopefully, this post is worth sharing.

Let’s all help each other.

How about you? What have you done for the environment?

Share your green projects on our comments section!

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