Garbage everywhere and failed communication

AMONG the 182 barangays in Davao City, Barangay 23-C has the largest number (19) of tribes such as the Christian, the Moro tribes and the Indigenous people like the Badjaos.

Badjao has been living in the barangay for how many decades now. Many of them are migrants from Zamboanga and some of them was already born in the village.

Most only reach elementary grades. Most sell pearls, ukay-ukay, shoes, sea foods and others beg on the streets as their source of income. Many are discriminated.

The mix of lack of education, discrimination, absence of feeling of belongingness lead to a general feeling of not caring about the communities around. This is manifested in the garbage that teem in the waters beneath their homes.

And according to their Barangay office garbage disposal is undoubtedly the main problem of the barangay.

“The disposal of wastes is the main problem of our Barangay especially in the Badjao area,” Rey Cabaron, a barangay official said.

Trashy and Smelly

In Barangay 23-C, the houses are organized according to their tribes including the Badjao’s. It is the decision of the Barangay office and the government to separate them so that each tribe has their privacy.

It is obvious in the Badjao community that residents don’t know how to dispose and throw their waste properly.

Houses in the Badjao village don’t have proper toilets.

“Sa dagat o iputos na lang namo sa cellophane human ilabay sa dagat (We don’t have comfort rooms here so we just put our wastes in plastic bags and throw these to the sea),” said Diego, a resident.

The Barangay 23-C is conducting their coastal clean-up program monthly in every area and this program is mandated by the DILG.

Cabaron says they have been telling the Badjao community about how and where to dispose of their wastes.

“Mubalik ra man sad silag labay ug di mutuman sa patakaran (They'd do as they have been doing before),” he said.

Barangay 23-C has appointed different Purok leaders for each village. For the Badjao community Purok Leader Art Cabali is assigned.

“Diri samua mga badjao, ako man sad silang isturyahan na mag labay ug tarong sa ilang basura, kay kana man ang sugo sa Barangay ug gusto pud nako na malimpyo ang among lugar diri (I also tell them that they should dispose their waste in the proper disposal because that is the order of the Barangay and also I want our place to be clean),” Cabali said.

Health impact of toxic wastes

A dirty environment carries with it diseases, including mosquito-borne ones.

In Davao City, Barangay 23-C had the highest level of dengue incident throughout the City according to Department of Health Davao although barangay officials would rather point to visitors who are already afflicted as the cause for the high numbers.

The Failed Solution

Still, the barangay council recognizes this as a problem. Aside from coastal cleanups and information dissemination for the resident on solid waste management, the Barangay also implemented the “Isang kilong basura, isang kilong bigas”.

Here, the council gives rice in exchange for the gathered garbage. But the project failed.

“Gi buhat na namo tanan pero wala man mi mahimu dili man jud sila madisiplina ug dili pud sila mapugos (The Barangay did everything but still the residents have no discipline and we can’t force them about it)," said Norane Mustapha, Administrator of the Barangay.

There is also higher organizations and office that helped the Barangay 23-C to fixed their problem like the Community Environment and Naturals Resources Office and other NGO’s like Tambayan and still the residents will continue throwing their wastes.

What is obvious is that the message is not properly sent. There has to be other ways unexplored. And the best will always be what is not tainted with prejudice. (Christine C. Jiyara, Addu Intern/SunStar Davao)
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