Atienza: Do we really GET it?





JUST three out of Cebu’s myriad development challenges.

But for people in our community, those are the issues that affect us most directly on a daily basis. Whatever your station in life, be it business owner, real estate broker, student, teacher, doctor, nurse, Grab driver, chef, waiter, busboy or opinion columnist; together we constantly face negative consequences arising from GET-related problems.

Together, we bear the horrendous traffic, missing crucial appointments. Together, we wake up and leave our homes much earlier in order to keep to our schedules. Together, we develop lung-related problems, like asthma and other breathing difficulties. Together, we suffer debilitating heat stroke. Together, our cars stall in thigh-high floods and we slog through dirty floodwaters teeming with germs and bacteria.

Are we, as a community, directly responding to these pressing issues? How can we work together to mitigate, alleviate and eliminate the problems? Or are we leaving it to the “officials” and “experts”, hoping that others will solve it or worse, that it will sort it self out?

For me, it is shamefully a bit of both. We do our bit of garbage segregation and we are happy to accept groceries in brown bags, despite the fact that these bags get torn so easily. We recycle the odd plastic bags from department stores into household garbage bags.

But lately, I have been thinking that we, on an individual basis and as a community, ought to do more than just hope for the best. There are many noteworthy and uplifting initiatives from individuals and from groups that warm our hearts. Here are a few examples:

Mary Anne

Mt friend, Mary Anne and I were at a Pop-Up Exhibit where she lovingly chose a number of silky batik items to give her family. After payment, the girl at the counter wrapped up her purchases in a plastic bag.

“I’m sorry,” she said with simplicity. “I don’t accept plastic. I’ll just take these items with me to the car.” And that she did.

How edifying and inspiring! She taught me by example that in our own little ways, we can GET it together.

Green Lanes

Months ago, BARUG Councilor Raymond Garcia filed an ordinance increasing the number of days banning the use of plastics. To complement this initiative, the ordinance additionally proposed to ask shop owners to open up “Green Lanes” exclusive to shoppers who bring their own eco-bags.

BOPK Councilor Joy Young reportedly asked for a “study” to be done on the use of plastics and how it will affect Cebu. Really? Is that still a question for study?

He didn’t GET it?

While prudence is a virtue in the crafting of ordinances, surely there can be no question that increasing the number of days banning the use of plastics and allowing Green Lanes can only be good for our community?

Plastic Barter Stores

Another friend, Adrian Lim, together with the Rotary Club of Metro Cebu, came up with an idea to encourage street children to help save the environment by allowing them to exchange plastic trash for donated items such as food, clothing, toys, and school supplies.

And it does not end there. The plastics collected will be reprocessed in plastic shredder machines and recycled into eco-hollow blocks, pavers and other economically sustainable products by reformed prison inmates and dumpsite dwellers under the supervision of the Cebu Archdioceses Prison Apostolate.

What a brilliant idea! So brilliant in fact that it has been picked up by CNN, ABS-CBN and Inquirer. Given time, proper planning & resource allocation, and adequate funding, this project will no doubt be emulated nationwide.

Wow, these people really GET it!

Zero Hour

Ateneo de Cebu is currently planning a project called “Zero Hour” which will totally eliminate the use of “one-use” plastics in the cafeteria and eventually, throughout the school campus. Plastic water cups? Bring your own refillable bottles, instead. Plastic plates, spoons and forks? Bring reusable dishes and utensils from home.

Ling, one of the teachers involved in the project, says the school is looking at more ways of reducing trash and inculcating environment awareness among students.

We hope that more educational institutions seriously look at implementing GET-Cebu initiatives and tell us about it at

Let’s GET moving!


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