QC women leaders vow to help solve waste problemBy Ana and Joey Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In celebration of Environment Month, around 400 women leaders in Quezon City recently vowed to practice in their households or establishments waste segregation, composting and recycling at source as part of a campaign being spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-
National Capital Region (DENR-NCR), Bangon Kalikasan Ecology Centers and the city government’s Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department (EPWMD).
The all-women approach in promoting ecological waste management has reinforced the successful experiences of women-led efforts in this area as in the case of Luz E. Sabas, a retired nurse and teacher who pioneered the zero waste movement in the Philippines some 40 years ago. There are also several other remarkable women in communities and various sectors who have contributed to this effort, including one who spearheaded the closure of a municipal dump in their barangay and a group which helped the mayor transform their whole town practically into an ecology center.
Environment Secretary Ramon J. Paje, who delivered the keynote speech, lauded the women as he announced that President Benigno Aquino III was all set to get everyone together, starting from the households, to rid the environment of garbage.
“The President said that since we have done much in cleaning up the bureaucracy and we are also enjoying a greatly increased credit rating, it’s time we cleaned our environment,” Paje said. “We are saying it’s more fun in the Philippines but how can we sell a country that’s dirty?”
If the garbage problem was to be solved, this would also led to waste-free esteros, Paje said. The government has just acquired four trash boats to collect wastes from esteros and 20 more are coming although he asked: “Is that all we will be doing, cleaning the esteros every day? The point is, let us not allow the garbage to reach the esteros.”
Paje related his trip through the Estero de San Miguel, a long and deep river traversing several streets as well as three or four Metro Rail Transit stations. “Imagine students taking the river and getting off at the MRT connections. This would greatly ease the traffic problem as commuters would be using both waterways and land. But first, Estero de San Miguel must be rid of all the garbage. For now, it is filthy and really stinks.”
With the President taking the lead, would it be fair to hope for clean waterways leading to elevated railway transits and the closure of dumps before 2016?
These may be realized in due time as the women leaders responded to the motivational talk. Someone from Bagbag later announced that 80 percent of residents in their area were already practicing waste segregation; a retired professor from the University of the Philippines declared her commitment to help in the community while a balikbayan praised the virtues of composting which she and her children started practicing in the US and are now continuing in their home.
Frederika Rentoy, EPWMD head, shared with the audience in her welcome speech how the city government was trying its best to manage the waste of a burgeoning population and a fully developing urban landscape, yet so much more needed to be done. She appealed to the women for their help while the audience responded with applause when she announced that the city council had just passed an ordinance banning thin film and single-use plastic in the city.
Luz Sabas related how she was inspired by the biblical story of the miracle of five loaves and two fishes as told in John 6: 1-14: “When (the crowd who came to listen to Jesus) had had their fill, he said to his disciples: ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’” This was how she realized, she said, that space, time, energy, material and spiritual resources, which are all of God’s creation, should all be put to use so that nothing is wasted. She further explained how this concept could be applied to everyday life by everyone through the ecological management of waste resources.
Miss Earth Philippines 2012 Stephanie Stefanowitz, a Quezon City resident, and Miss Earth-Water International 2006 Cathy Untalan also graced the event and urged the women to help protect the environment particularly through ecological waste management. They both narrated their own experiences in practicing ecological waste management in their own homes.
Prof. Nathaniel Balbero of Bangon Kalikasan Movement delivered a rousing talk appropriately punctuated by songs he himself rendered, to highlight the women’s vital role in the home and community in keeping with their innate nature as nurturers and finer capabilities as managers.
Neria A. Andin, regional executive director for DENR-NCR and a forester, related how she had urged her children with incentives to plant the seeds of fruits they ate at the table instead of consigning these to the waste bin. Today, over 30 years later, they are now enjoying the fruits of these seeds.
Bobby Sheen, regional director of the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau, likewise touched on his own family’s best practices in managing waste in their home.