Bantay Kalikasan

National Youth Congress Joins Estero Tour

Althea Cahayag
November 20, 2017

Arian Rollan is a participant of the 14th National Youth Congress from Cebu City National Science High School. She said that in her hometown, they have this Butuanon River which she described as “really dirty” and “dead”. If you look it up on Google, you’d know that it’s located in Mandaue, Cebu and you’d see photos of it with black waters and wastes. It’s actually one of the rivers visited by the former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez and its rehabilitation projects are now in the pipeline.

Photo from Environmental Management Bureau Region 7:

Arian said that it looks like the old Estero de Paco but with lesser rubbish. “Ang dami ng efforts na ginawa ng universities, ng organizations to rehabilitate the river but then it was not enough. So, right now, what we are doing is, they’re dealing with the river like by stretch,” she explained. (There were lots of efforts done by universities and organizations to rehabilitate the river but then it was not enough. Right now, they are dealing with it by rehabilitating it by stretch.)

Through the Estero Tour they did in Estero de Paco, Arian and more than 90 students learned about the efforts done by ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc.’s Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig and its partners to rehabilitate the estero. Before their estero tour, Jen Santos, the Program Director of Bantay Kalikasan, the program where KBPIP is under, had a talk to NYC participants about its environmental efforts.

“After seeing it here, it feels really different from the pictures that we saw yesterday. Like seeing it in a concrete manner. I’m amazed by how the organizers were able to pull the community together in order to do something like this.”

After the estero tour, the participants also threw Bokashi Balls in Estero de Santibañez. Mabuhay Balls or Bokashi Balls production, a technology that came from Japan, uses beneficial micro-organisms to break down toxins. “Bokashi” is a term that means “fermented organic matter”. Bokashi balls played a big role in rehabilitating the Estero de Santibañez. With the help and unity of the community, the estero remains clean.

During her talk, Santos said that rehabilitating the esteros does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work since cleaning it should be continuous. Ecological waste management should also be done with the community.

NYC participants during the estero tour

National Youth Congress’ External Relations Director for this year Isabel Cuevas see the importance of their activity as how youth takes a big role in protecting the environment. “At an early age, it’s nice na makita na po namin yung importance nang pagtulong sa environment. Because in the future, dapat kami yung mag-take talaga ng initiative to do something about environmental problems.” (At an early age, it’s nice that we are able to see the importance that we help protect the environment because in the future, we, the youth, are the ones to take the initiative to do something to address environmental issues.)

Melvic Cabasag, the Project Lead/Site Specialist of Bantay Kalikasan’s Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig also shared that, “Ginawa natin ito para rin mamulat yung kaisipan nila tungkol sa waste segregation at saka sa kung paano nila dapat itong gawin.” (We did this activity for this to also become an eye-opener for them when it comes to waste segregation. For them to know how it should be done.)

Bantay Kalikasan believes that in order to rehabilitate the Pasig River, its tributaries should be rehabilitated first. To date, BK’s KBPIP has rehabilitated a total of 16 esteros together with Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, through the help of different donors.