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Indiscriminate throwing garbage just about anywhere is one national headache that is really short of being classified as an inborn trait. This sense of entitlement just about sums up our thug life as a people and it thrives around the belief that we can do it as long as no one’s watching. This affliction is almost like a mental thing in people, with an accompanying denial that one is innocent. That may a tough pill to swallow for these people but try telling that to marine animals after they’ve choked on plastic refuse or have a piece of straw up their noses.

I’ve watched many documentary films online about cleanup drives in our waters from 2019 till now and the results are really both touching and amazing, with many sites worth mentioning. Touching because what other words could describe the total commitment by communities and volunteers who heeded the call to clean the beaches and our waterways? Then, amazing because of the amount of trash hauled with each dive and beach drive. No one can imagine how long have these been sitting under the ocean, feeding and poisoning the very food we feed our families with. For perspective alone, trying wrapping your head around the idea of three thousand sacks of garbage taken from one area alone.

In terms of the spirited disposition of the volunteers captured in these many documentaries, it reminds me of the energy of children during Easter Sunday egg hunts. It’s always asked, how many eggs did you find? The same spirit could also be seen among the volunteers who proclaim, look how many kilos we’ve recovered!

Sad thing is, when rainy season comes, flooding in many areas of the city is sure to follow. This is because clogged canals and poor waste disposal are still commonplace. There was once a photo in a local paper where street workers were dismayed at the site of an opened manhole along a major street which revealed a clogged opening filled with used plastic and empty bottles of mineral water.

Meanwhile, in Manila and its surrounding areas around the bay, the practice of garbage disposal still finds itself headed towards water even as concerted efforts to maintain the already-rehabilitated Manila Bay is still continually met with criticism till this day. Clearly, some people earnestly pray for the failure of the dolomite beach, hoping that symbol of political will would be overrun by garbage once again. I just hope that this won’t be the final trait that will define us; toppling down what’s already been built, so we could push our agenda, without much concern for those who benefit.

On a final note, I’ve still to hear of the dolomite beach being dirtied again amid reports by some fisher folk that garbage has returned to the sea. That’s a scary thought indeed, especially when I see dog walkers with plastic bags in their back pockets and still step on mushy browns from time to time.


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