The clean-up drive at Manila Bay should not have made headline news. However, when one considers that perhaps deep down inside, we truly are slobs in denial, cleaning up can be a big deal indeed. This disturbing assessment may be difficult to accept, especially when one fancies living in a society enmeshed in modernity and decent living, and cloaked in supposed-religiousity and worse, unfailing self-righteousness.
The fact is, because we hate garbage so much, we already believe we are a tidy lot. Trash, we would gladly dispose of, out of our hands and at the soonest time. We may have a clean house or office, yes, but for many, that is as far as it goes. We also have people who clean our mess for us.
Consider these: fun-run participants disposing plastic cups by the hundreds on the side of the road, as they jog past the water tables. Or rallyists leaving immense trash on parks after a night of protesting. Ordinary pedestrians throwing scraps of candy wraps on sidewalks. Or passengers littering the pre-departure areas with all sorts of trash as they board their planes. Where else can we find trash cans filled to the brim, or esteros (canals) congested with tons of trash? The list could go on and on.
Where do all the garbage end up? If not in the smokey mountain landfills, then out to river outlets and the sea where it eventually washes up in our shores. Come next typhoon, all that trash, collected from the surrounding provinces that line up the coast, come rushing back to mama, Manila Bay and other inlets.
In an archipelago, with almost everyone gone trash-throwing crazy, the effect is replicated many times over. Cases like Boracay and many other places can attest to this.
Sad truth is, even if at the same time, the whole country embarked on a full-scale cleanup campaign today, trash would still find its way to our shorelines unless we change our mindset, and eventually back this up by enforcing it with law. A case in point would be how it is done in Singapore. Why can’t we do the same, instead of headlining the cleaning of a bay, as if it were a miracle?
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