A FEW years ago, a mountain of garbage, a muddy road and a foul smell marked the dumpsite in Barangay Umapad, Mandaue City.
At present, the area is a lot different from what it was before.
The city’s plant nursery and several colorful flowers now occupy a portion of the land that was used to be the dumpsite. A day care center stands there.
These developments in the City’s dumpsite form part of the local government unit’s plan to make it an eco-park.
According to the Department of General Services (DGS), the eco-park will cover two hectares of the former dumpsite while the rest of the five hectares will be converted into an integrated waste processing center, where only residual wastes will be placed.
In 2009, the Mandaue City Government closed the open dumpsite in compliance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
In April 2015, the City Government led by former mayor and now sixth-district Rep. Jonas Cortes inaugurated a one-hectare sanitary landfill, where the City can dump its residual wastes.
The Mandaue City Public Information Office shared that the day care center and the plant nursery were opened in 2016.
DGS, which takes charge of the landscaping and beautification of the dumpsite, will put a playground on the two-hectare lot intended for the eco-park.
Currently, a hectare, which is intended for the integrated waste processing center, is still being used as a sanitary landfill. The remaining four-hectare span is just an open space.
Umapad Barangay Capt. Nelson Rubio said the community’s officials have been supportive of these changes, to keep every family safe and put them in a better place.
“Maayo kay malimpyo. At least wa nay basura (The development will eliminate all the trash in the area),” he said.
In fact, Rubio said, about 600 families who were living on a private lot recently dismantled their structures and received financial assistance from the lot owner, so the property will be freed and would no longer be used as a dumpsite.
The private area sprawls just a few meters away from the city’s dump site.
Rubio said that the private property, which is estimated to be 10 to 15 hectares, was idle until families who were not originally from Mandaue occupied part of it and allowed garbage haulers to dump in the area. That made them earn money, though they did so without the lot owner’s consent.
Last February this year, the families agreed with the private lot owner to vacate the area. “Kasagaran nagbalik probinsya (Most of them already went back to their hometowns),” said Rubio.
The barangay official said there were only seven families left on the private property. Unlike before, the garbage on the private property is now minimal.
With the City’s plan to fully develop the dumpsite, Margie Pitogo, 23, said she was thankful, but also worried that they might no longer have a livelihood.
“Labi na mawala na ang basurahan, wala nami kapanginabuhian (Once the garbage would no longer be dumped in the area, we will lose our source of income),” said Pitogo.
Pitogo’s parents had been living in Umapad for more than 50 years. When her parents died, she, her two children and brother were the only ones left in their house, located on the bank of Butuanon River.
Pitogo and her family were even more worried after they got a notice last week from the City Government to vacate the area.
Pitogo said they were given until June 26 to dismantle their house before the demolition team will do so.
“OK ra man unta kung naa sila’y ihatag nga tarong unta nga relocation site (We support any development in the area as long as there is a relocation site intended for us),” said Pitogo.
Mario Quizon, 26, said he cannot do anything except to follow any development in the dump site. Sun.Star Cebu chanced upon Quizon taking a break from searching for items from the pile of residual wastes that could still be used.
He said he will just voluntarily dismantle his family’s house. They had received a similar notice to vacate.
Meanwhile, Rubio said the families who will be affected by the demolition will be transferred to a 6.5-hectare relocation site in Barangay Paknaan.
“Para nako mao na the best himuon aron maplastar na ang mga tawo didto. Moabot baya ang tig-uwan (Relocating the families is the best thing to do, so they’ll settle there. The rainy season is coming),” he added.