MANILA - Another portion of Manila Bay received the big-time clean-up treatment as around 500 volunteers, mostly students and youth leaders, collected trash in the reclaimed area of the Baseco Compound in Port Area, Manila on Saturday morning.
This is part of an initiative called "Kalakasan" or Kilos Kabataan para sa Kalikasan, which involves youth leaders from the Sanggunian Kabataan (SK) in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon participating in the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
The clean-up was led by the environment and interior departments, as well as the National Youth Commission and Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.
Asec. Joan Lagunda of the DENR said they included youth leaders from the said areas since these contribute to the waste that washes up in Manila Bay.
Among their thrusts is to encourage SK councils to also allocate parts of their budgets to environmental concerns.
"Ngayon andito sila nalilinis ito, mafi-feel nila na kailangan magtulungan para malinis ito. Pagbalik nila ituturo nila sa kanilang lugar na huwag magtapon ng basura."
She said she hopes the participants would not just shoot selfies at the event but also pick up trash.
Many of the young participants were from the Baseco area--students at the nearby Pres. Corazon C. Aquino High School and Sangguniang Kabataan officials and youth members from Barangay 649 in Baseco.
"Tumutulong na rin kami kasi dito rin kami nakatira," said Grade 9 student Eloisa Cupada.
"Malaking tulong ito sa amin, nalilinis yung lugar namin, naiiwasan ng mga tao na magkaroon ng sakit," said Bgy. 649 SK chairman Cris John Buenconsejo.
He said before the Kalakasan initiative, they have been conducting regular clean-ups at the village level.
George de la Rama of the PRRC, meanwhile, said cleaning up the Baseco area was crucial especially since it was where the water--and waste--from the Pasig River flows into Manila Bay.
Future clean-ups led by Kalakasan are being planned, including one to coincide with World Water Day in March.
Earlier before the clean-up, some Baseco residents woke up early to greet the sunrise at the reclaimed area, dubbed "Little Boracay" or "Baseco beach".
Some families brought their children to swim in the water such as Addie Piandiong, who came with his son and daughter.
Despite government warnings that Manila Bay is unsafe to swim in due to its high coliform content, Piandiong said he has not been barred from taking a dip there.
Instead, he and his children pick up trash from the water and collect them in plastic bags as advised by their village officials.
His wife would later join them bringing breakfast.
"Bonding sa pamilya, kasi minsan naman di kami makalabas kasi wala naman kaming pera. Dito tuwang-tuwa kami na nakikita ang mga bata kapag naliligo," he said.
Resident Nadel Demetrio, who came out for a jog, said they have only been able to take advantage of a relatively clean Baseco beach in recent months after the spate of clean-ups under the Manila Bay rehab.
"Langhap mo na yung simoy ng hangin, hindi kagaya dati malayo ka pa maaamoy mo na yung mabahong hangin," she said.
Demetrio called out to visitors to the area who might now be enticed to visit and swim at Baseco to be mindful of their trash and not leave them there.