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Director Jeffrey Leron does his share on ICC 2005, Manila Bay

This year’s International Coastal Cleanup is slated on September 21, 2013.  Asel Punzalan narrates his experience on ICC 2005 to encourage everybody to participate in the incoming cleanups.

September 17, 2005 (Saturday)

I was assigned to look over my co-San Pedro East Rotaractors regarding our participation in the 20th International Coastal Cleanup (ICC)- “Our future, Our Success.” The program would start at around 7:00 in the morning (this is according to a source) in Fishport, La Huerta, Parañaque City.

Given the authority, I told the company, “Ala-singko hanggang 5:30 sa Jolibee Alabang.  Ang hindi sisipot, wag nang magpakita sa akin.  Iiwanan na lang ang late!” and I did it with conviction.  (Let’s meet in Jolibee Alabang, 5:00 to 5:30 AM.  To those who won’t fulfill their promise, I don’t want to see your faces again.)

On that very important day (ICC), a familiar voice dumbfounded me from my slumber, “Kuya Asel, phone! Importante daw!” I almost did a Chinese get-up and after seeing the clock, I said, “(Balance) sheet! Six na!” Then I took the phone and after a hoarse hello, I heard, “Ang kapal ng mukha mo, nakakahiya sa kanila. Nakakahiya kay Icy (Cabuyao Circle)– Ryan Lim, our Community Service Director was on the other end of the line. With a barely Sige na! I brushed my teeth. With a barely facial water splash, I donned my most precious Rotaract uniform and found my way to the rendezvous.

I admit. I was hesitant to push through with the project. The weather was not cooperating the day before (September 16) and a flashflood created a turtle-paced traffic along the National Highway (San Pedro Area) that eventually brought the Friday class into suspension.




September 16, 2005 (Friday)

Nevertheless, our Journalism Seminar “Getting Out of the Comfort Zone” with Ms. Zorayda Sanchez fortunately came into reality. The seminar was quite tiresome but what blew my verve pipe even harder was the fellowship, we The Sphere Staff had after.

UP alumna, columnist, actress Zorayda Sanchez shares her knowledge in Journalism
The Sphere Staff: Jonathan Reyes, Jenvy Rose Cac, Tin Pajarilo, Jay Paclibar, Manuel Teodoro, Asel Punzalan, Kate Marasigan, VJ Sayson, Mico Monsalve and Roy Roman Venus II
The Sphere Staff: Third Mondares, Reg Parulan, Fer Timbal, Zyra Ordoño-Bambico, TP Gonzales, Leonel Barrioquinto-Omega, Alex Bartolazo, Johnlie Daquioag. Advisers: Edna Macrohon and Mam Solayao

The fellowship marked another history in my life.  It was the first time my feet landed a bowling alley. It was the first time I had a bullying brawl with the bowling balls and pins. My colleagues indeed bullied me. Tet (The Sphere Sports Editor) baptized me with the nick “Bayubay.” I did not fully absorb what she really did mean by that, but for namesake, Bayubay was born.

Our team (VJ, Mark, Athan, Zy and Reg) lost to the other team (Ted, Nel, Ervin, Tet and Tin).  The prize at stake was a trivial Sundae Cone of nearby Mc Do, but what’s worth mentioning was the excitement it brought about to our funny bones.  After the ice cream treat, we had the videoke. With an All-Star Singing Cast, The Sphere (The Official Choir, este Student Publication of SPCBA) nearly transformed the place into a concert hall.



We arrived at the specified place at 7:30 A.M.  The program has not yet begun because the other VIP’s have not yet arrived.  The program opened at 8:30 A.M. and the following politicking speeches bored the participants.  I am not used to this kind of preliminaries because when we say community service in Rotaract, we really mean community service and nothing else.

Notwithstanding, some of the talks were quite informative.  According to one, the Philippines ranked second in the Most “Trashful” Countries in the world during last year’s ICC (2004).  USA was first in the list.

Various national agencies, local government units, industries, private organizations and academes (colleges, universities, primary and secondary schools) corroborated for the same cause- to clean this stretch of Manila Bay.

The war on wastes then began.  Participants were grouped and each was provided with sacks, rakes and other cleaning materials. The next scenarios were shocking.

The Rotaract Club of San Pedro East has been participating in such cleanups.  One was the Cuyab River Cleanup (the one separating the Muntinlupa territory from that of San Pedro).  The major pollutants were the effluents of the surrounding industries and the household wastes of nearby residents.  The other one was the continual cleanups in line with our Dengue Prevention Campaign (Barangays of San Pedro).  The pollutants have the propensity of converting the free-running bodies of water into stagnant ones, thus spawning reason for aedes aegypti and other species of mosquitoes to rejoice in frolic.  Moreover, the law of gravity explains why all garbage in the community naturally finds their way to the seas.  Domestic drainage leads to canals.  Canals lead to creeks.  Creeks lead to rivers.  Rivers lead to seas.

RACSPE: Kirby Bernardino, Brendz buduan, Khit Bernardo, Jalyn Arciaga, Jeriz Lara, Joy Rioveros, Juan Lazo, Jett Laud, Francis Gutirrez, Cris Nuñez, Ryan Bello, Marny Fajardo, Carlo del Monte , Matt Espina and Anthony Jasareno
RACSPE: Joan Sidamon, Khit Bernardo, Cristine Reyes, Anna Murillo, Jeriz Lara, Nyco Fernando, Francis Gutierrez, Marny Fajardo, Sonny Urfano, Jeff Morales, Mike Pilar, Cris Nuñez, Matt Espina, Ryan Bello, Kirby Bernardino, Rowie Reyes, Asel Punzalan, Anthony Jasareno
RACSPE: Kaye Espadilla Dizon, Anna Murillo, Mhon Brazas, Ai Odasco Miranda, Cristine Reyes, Ryan Lim, Jeffrey Leron, Ramiro Latagan, Fermil Timbal, Elbert Querimit, Asel Punzalan
Vice President Ramiro Latagan, Director Jeff aboard a barge cleanup the Cuyab River stretch
Directors Ryan Lim, Roy Venus, Jeff clear water hyacinths off the waterways
Director Jeff awed by the amount of trash collected from Cuyab River
Director Jeff awed by the amount of trash collected from Cuyab River
Directors JP Vasquez, Cristine Reyes, Paul Sarabillo rake on big pile of waste, Cuyab River
Like rivers, waste surely runs to the sea.  It is better to start in the community.  Sto Niño Cleanup
Canals lead to rivers and rivers lead to seas. Sto Niño Cleanup
Director Ryan Lim declogs esteros of Calendola
Environmental army against the hazards, Calendola Cleanup
The Narra River Cleanup. The First Entry of RACSPE to Rotary International Outstanding Rotaract Projects way back RY 2004-2005.

Upon the commencement, I noticed that there were some things common between this ICC and the other cleanups we had before.  I came into conclusion that- “The main ‘trashers’ of lakes, rivers and coastlines are the immediate residents. Also, these residents are merely squatters in the area.”    It is not that I am “matapobre.” I am just telling the truth.  What’s more, these unlawful tenants paradoxically give us (environmentally concerned citizens) some proletarian blue-collar jobs of cracking down their garbage. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

What made our group stop for a while and engage ourselves in radical thoughts was the sight of residents deliberately throwing more garbage into the bay while watching us clean their place. And the worst thing, we saw a boy (at least a little boy) defecating himself at the expense of this body of water.  No wonder why we would intermittently have pauses in what we were doing.  Fecal matters (not necessarily from the same boy) were floating here, there and everywhere. It is just that they took this part of the Philippine Sea as a gigantic toilet bowl.

Director Jalyn Arciaga leads RACSPE in cleaning Manila Bay
RACSPE, International Coastal Cleanup 2005, Manila Bay
Director Jalyn and the rest of RACSPE in Action

Through concerted efforts of a big family of concerned Filipinos, the coast somehow regained its grandeur and glory.  A view from the paved shore was a horizon of green mangroves and white herons.  The wide and long stretch of the sea was a spectacular manifestation of hope.

Manila Bay Bird Sanctuary
The mangroves of Manila Bay, home for different species of birds
White Heron in Manila Bay as subject of Photo enthusiasts
Grey Heron, Manila Bay
Another species of bird inhabits Manila Bay
Herons in the mangroves of Manila Bay

I heard that Mayor Bernabe of Parañaque has this great dream of turning this blemished coastline into a tourist spot (toeing the line of Mayor Atienza, just like what he did in Roxas Boulevard?) It is not impossible, but this would require more intensive efforts not just from the entities that participated in ICC, but also from the residents.

Better still, the total demolition of the squatting shanties; though is of controversial nature, is a critical factor to consider.  The roots of the problem must be unearthed first.  Prevention is better than cure.  However, resettlement for the affected parties if necessary should be provided.  Also, industries must correctly dispose of their effluents.  Likewise, Filipinos must learn proper waste management because their wastes, like rivers run directly to the sea through floods.

Informal Settlers of Manila Bay

Only with these ways we can move on protecting our coastlines and preserving our environment.  The longevity of our environment spells the saga of the next generation and the triumph of the future means the success of Mother Earth in the long run and in larger perspective.■


Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest volunteer event of its kind. Last year, 378,000 volunteers from 76 countries and 45 states cleared six million pounds of trash from oceans and waterways and recorded every piece of trash collected

On Saturday, September 17, 2011, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on beaches, lakes, and streams all over the world to remove trash and debris — on land and under the water. Volunteers of all ages from every continent will form the largest one-day volunteer event on behalf of clean oceans and waterways — Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

Pollution prevention is the key

Ocean Conservancy’s  International Coastal Cleanup isn’t just about pollution cleanup — it’s also about pollution prevention. The event focuses on educating and empowering people to become a part of the marine debris solution.

What makes the International Coastal Cleanup unique is its data collection component. Volunteers record specific types of marine debris being found, allowing Ocean Conservancy to compile, analyze and track this data year-by-year and make discoveries about the behaviors that cause the debris.

The final information is used to educate the public, business, industry, and government officials about the problem. We believe understanding the problem is the key to finding long-lasting solutions.

How the Cleanup Got Started

In 1986, a staff member of Ocean Conservancy was appalled by the amount of trash she found littering the shores of South Padre Island, Texas. She took responsible action by organizing a beach cleanup. In three hours, 2,800 Texans picked up 124 tons of trash from 122 miles of coastline. With that, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup was born.

That event was just the beginning of a movement for cleaner beaches and waterways. Later, it grew to encompass the shorelines of 25 U.S. states and territories. In 1989, the Cleanup went international, with the participation of residents of Canada and Mexico. To date, over 6 million volunteers have removed over 100 million pounds of marine litter from a grand total of 170,000 miles of beaches and inland waterways.

Highlights in the Fight Against Marine Debris

1985: Ocean Conservancy conducts a study of plastic marine garbage for EPA. The report, Plastics in the Ocean: More Than a Litter Problem, identifies plastics as the number one marine debris hazard.

1986: A Conservancy staff member organizes the first beach cleanup in South Padre Island, Texas. In the three-hour Texas Coastal Cleanup, 2,800 volunteers collect 124 tons of trash from 122 miles of coastline.

1988: The Cleanup expands to include 25 coastal U.S. states and territories. Ocean Conservancy establishes the National Beach Cleanup Marine Debris Database to create awareness, involve citizens, and collect standardized information on the problem of marine debris.

1989: Canada and Mexico participate, officially making the event the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). Plywood that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing this year.

1991: A cigarette butt that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing this year.

1992: 33 countries participate in the Cleanup.

1995: Ocean Conservancy produces a report on ship waste and discharge at sea, to serve as an industry reference guide in preventing ship-borne marine debris.

1996: Ocean Conservancy works with the International Maritime Organization to raise awareness of the importance of good stewardship and the marine debris problem in the Caribbean.

1997: 75 countries participate in the Cleanup.

2003: 91 countries participate in the Cleanup.

2004: Despite several cancellations due to Hurricane Isabel, which pushed many East Coast cleanups into October, ICC volunteers are still able to collect 7.7 million pounds of debris. A Styrofoam cup that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing this year.

2036: A tin can that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing this year.

2436: A plastic bottle that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing this year.

1,001,986: A glass bottle that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing this year.


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