Walking and Talking while Cleaning and Planting

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, July 7, 2014


TWENTY years ago, two organizations were formed out of the Team Baguio NGO planning congress that convened to formulate post-earthquake recommendations and guidelines for the city. The Alay Sa Kalinisan and the Baguio Regreening Movement were organized as a separate functional group to tackle the city's cleanliness drive and protect the city’s remaining watershed respectively. As an information support to the later, a small group composed of media practitioners conceived the Eco-Walk environmental program for children of which my wife, my daughters and I are still very much involved up to now. While we generally usher the children to the Busol and Buyog watershed to experience planting trees, our group led by Ramon Dacawi starts with a forest orientations and this include a chicken and egg story of where the children are asked where water from the faucet comes from. Dacawi’s Kiangan Joke style of storytelling is unparalleled by any of the Eco-walk advocates in terms of audience reaction. Much as we the original team wants to walk our talk, it now depends on our climbing knees especially for Ramon Dacawi who nurtured the program from the very start as Project Manager. Mine is showing signs of deterioration and abuse and we really need volunteers who can commit to help in the eco-walk program for the next twenty years.

Now that Baguio is getting unpopular for its solid waste and ambient air problem, I cannot help but recall the time when the Alay Sa Kalinisan was at the helm of the city’s clean-up drive. Dr. Reynaldo Bautista Sr. was the Chairman of ASK and Mayor Mauricio Domogan sat as Co-chair. For three consecutive times from 1994 to 1996, Baguio bagged the most coveted title as the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized City in the Philippines and became Hall of Fame awardee by 1997. I should know because I was part of the team that went to document and observe Olongapo and Puerto Prinsesa’s clean-up efforts and attended weekly meetings. Among the pioneer ASK stalwarts who were part of the observation tour were Gene De Guia, Cecile Afable and Leonora San Agustin who when banded together are called the three witches of Baguio.

Ramon Dacawi of the city’s Public Information Office, his staff and myself collaborated and prepared the clean-up activity report that included my video documentary in VHS. The documents that we forwarded to DILG became a reference material by the search and awards committee at the national level. We held meetings at the old Casa Vallejo before it was condemned by DENR in the late 90s. As Co-chair, Mayor Domogan tasked Romeo Concio of the city's General Services Office as ASK Executive Officer responsible for the regular collections of garbage from the Barangays. Many volunteer groups and individuals supported ASK and we hope that the enthusiasm and energy of the original group continues to grow. Among the early members of ASK were Joy Ruff, Dr. Florence Reyes of BHD, Dr. Charles C. Cheng of Baguio Fil-Chinese Hospital, Cathy Dela Rosa of Noants, Nonnette Bennet, Sonia Fernandez, Vic Calimlim, Alou Meneses, Pamela Perkins, Koring Visperas, Margie Otero, Rhoda Buenavista of JVOFI, Ric Villena of BCPO, Gabby Kieth of PIO, Andre Amadeo of DZEQ, vendor Mrs, Dumaguing, Josephine Lapira and others whose name are being recalled as of this writing. I was then representing the Philippine Information Agency during those years and my wife attends the monthly executive meetings often guesting the ASK members during the weekly Kapihan sa Baguio. After Baguio got the Hall of Fame award, the city needed to sustain its status as cleanest and greenest city thus other volunteers joined ASK and this included Dr. Nini Rusgal and retired Forester Ross Goze among others. For the Barangay judging committee, representatives from the institutional members formed a technical working committee and I remember Nick Guanzon and Dominador Urbanozo of BHD, Connie Nibaten of DENR, Alou, Rhoda, Ric, Gerry Manaois with Dr. Nini as head of the group. When I transferred to the Department of Trade and Industry-CAR as its media specialist, my presence with ASK became scarce and so with the BRM except the Eco-walk.

Lately, I signed up on the very popular social media twitter with the handle as Green River Snake (https://twitter.com/greenriversnake). This is in support to my personal research on Social and Traditional Media as Tool in Surfacing Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) for the preservation of natural resources such as rivers.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 08, 2014.

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