Batuhan: Garbage-A A +A
Friday, August 17, 2012
IF WE had an Olympics for swimming in murky, disease-ridden floodwaters, no doubt the Philippines would win the gold hands down. Even if our Olympian swimmers did not quite cut the mustard with the best in the world in the posh pools of London, certainly our ordinary folk would take the cake in terms of surviving in the floodwaters of Manila.
While mostly true, this is no joke, however. Sure, Michael Phelps wins gold when he swims the butterfly well. Our people? Well, if they cannot float above the floodwaters by any means possible, they die. Yes, just like that, they die. The contest is not about winning gold, silver or bronze. The game is whether you live to swim again another day.
It is getting to be old news now, the fact that when any rain of some significance comes, Metro Manila and the surrounding areas immediately flood. It was not always like this in the past. True, low-lying parts of the metro, especially around the bay area are always prone to flooding. But now even those places where floodwaters never used to reach have become prone to inundation too. Times have, indeed, changed.
But what has changed? If this were the Arctic or somewhere up north where the glaciers were, we could conveniently point to global warming as the culprit. But we are in the tropics, for goodness sakes. Nothing melts here that has not already melted. So some other cause must be at work.
Rubbish, right? No I don’t mean that finding some other reason is rubbish. I mean the reason is the rubbish. For the more American among you out there, garbage is the reason for our predicament.
Yes, our estuaries, waterways and drainage systems are clogged to the max in garbage.
Every depression that used to carry water away has been conveniently turned into landfill, even when no landfill is actually needed. Garbage in the thousands of tons.
Garbage of every imaginable kind and origin. Garbage that would make Grover of Sesame Street happy for a lifetime.
We pray to God to spare us from calamities, floodwaters included. But God cannot do anything if we in turn do not do our part in taking care of his creation. We are the stewards of the earth that he left behind for us to look after. And if we do not, we hardly have any right to look up to the heavens seeking for his protection.
You see, garbage is everyone’s problem. The government’s and the people’s together.
It is hardly fair to blame people for not being able to dispose of their refuse properly. After all, living in the squalor of the metro means many of them cannot afford decent housing anyway. So if this is the case, then how can they even afford the cost of proper garbage disposal.
But this does not excuse people from responsibility too. Poverty is often used as an excuse for all sorts of shortcomings and trespasses, but this excuse is getting to be a tired one too. For while it is tolerable up to a point, when it passes on the responsibility to others just because of the poverty scapegoat, then the burden eases off on most of the population, as this is how many are supposed to be in the “poor” category.
So what to do?
For the government, rubbish disposal has to be a priority. Now before the rains come, rather than later when they are already here in full force.
And for the people? Well. A little discipline would help. After all, in every flood, it is their lives and livelihoods – rather than just medals – on the line at stake.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2012.