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SEAing the Garbage

Last modified August 11, 2008

September 15 was an atypical Saturday morning. I had to wake up earlier than usual to prepare myself for a green battle. After breakfast, I’m all ready to set my feet, and soil my hands, along the stretch of Manila Bay’s coast. Today marks the battle of the green warriors of the sea who advocate for a clean and habitable marine coastal ecosystem.

Since it’s a special day for me, I dedicated and committed my time and energy to clean the coast of Manila Bay. After several months of being dormant, the green blood in me is awakened and is now flowing. The last time I attended a coastal clean up was in December 2006 during the East Asian Seas Congress in China. It feels so good knowing that you’re not alone in promoting cleanliness of our coastlines and waterways.

It is the 22nd International Coastal Cleanup Day. In Manila, concerned citizens, employees, students, teachers and other volunteers all gathered to make this event possible. Armed with broomsticks, gloves and trash bags, we joined hands and lined the stretch of the bay to unload stocks and piles of garbage.

Despite the heavy rain, the event started at 7 o’clock that morning, with a program organized by the City Government of Manila. I’ve always been excited every time I attend activities like these. What added more fun and excitement was seeing my EASy friends. Except for Tine of PEMSEA, Cecil, Merson and I will be meeting for the first time since the Youth Forum concluded last December. It was fun being with them while doing something for our environment.

Deep Sea-rooted Problem

I remember the times when I used to be in the bay almost every week rowing with friends. But today I was there for a different mission. This time I don’t have a paddle with me, instead I’m geared up like a garbage terminator. After we have finally piled sacks of garbage ashore, I observed that aside from organic debris, majority of the waste collected are candy wrappers, cigarette butts, empty sachets of hair products, and junk food wrappers.

Considering the bulk of the junk collected, it’s possible that some of them were from nearby cities and towns bordering Manila Bay. It’s sad to see that a few minutes after the cleanup, a new batch of rubbish are again floating on the bay. Our effort maybe futile for some people, considering the countless volume of solid wastes that go ashore every minute. I know that we can’t be there 24/7 to maintain its cleanliness but, on my part, I know that our half-day effort has truly made a difference. I believe the real essence of having an event like this goes beyond the garbage collection. This cleanup drive is also a time for us to reflect how our daily activities and lifestyles have contributed to the perennial problem of solid waste.

Looking Forward

As youth, we are not spared from finding solutions and dealing with this problem. In fact, we can help alleviate this problem by just doing simple acts like being conscious enough where we put our candy wrappers or maybe we should start asking ourselves how we have contributed to it. When shopping, do we prefer using recyclable or plastic bags? Do we consider buying products which uses less packaging? Do we purchase in bulk or often resort to retail? If only we all commit to be “green consumers” then our individual efforts surely will have a powerful impact in addressing this problem. Just like what Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Eunice Cacatian is one of the participants during the first East Asian Seas Youth Forum. She is an active member of the Voice of the Youth Network in the Philippines.

EASy Network is composed of EAS Youth Forum participants. The Network was created during the EAS Congress 2006.