Catajan: Trash out


SUNDAY in my barangay is dubbed as “Basura Day,” the day designated for us to bring out our segregated trash and dump it at the area where the garbage collectors would come early Monday morning to gather.

The cavalry of people bringing trash out would start at around 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, some more stylish than others but nonetheless interesting to watch.

Some would lug their basura in old travel bags with trolleys as our area is like the Sierra Madre, made up of an uphill and downhill terrain enough to make anyone catch their breath in each hike.

I literally live up the hill, but without the opulence you would imagine.

Some folks would have large garbage bags in each hand dutifully bringing out the trash every Sabbath to bring to the curb to await the garbage truck in the morning.

Before the pandemic, kids in the neighborhood would go house to house and shout at the top of their lungs “Auuunnnntiiiieeeee basssssurrrraaaaa,” asking each household to allow them to take out their trash and ask for a few coins in exchange.

The chants to bring out your trash would start at 3 p.m., a bit early for the garbage haul but enough time for each young boy or girl to mark their territories and stake claim for each street in our village named after the colors of the rainbow.

So, the ritual of Sunday afternoon is complete when the voices of the kids chanting to take out your garbage begins signaling the end of the day, like a foreboding of the workday ahead.

When the pandemic hit, the kids were not allowed to go out, so the chore of taking out the garbage was left to lazy adults who got used to delegating the task to the enterprising group of kids who, once every week, lorded over our color themed streets.

I hate the task. But what was I to do? Hoard my trash till it stunk? There is a worldwide pandemic, of course I have to do my adulting, so the trash I took with a huff and a puff, went down the hill to the dump.

At first it was horrid, to take the garbage out, three different bags for the bottles, biodegradables [which one has to empty unto a sack filled with rotting waste at the dump] and mixed dry waste, balancing each bag so as not to trip least your trash be scattered on the pavement, I looked like a bag lady.

It was excruciating to walk up the hill after, it’s quite steep and with the chore of carrying the trash done, you feel that you stink.

On the second week, the trash bag of bottles I was carrying gave in, making my discarded cans, bottles and plastics fall, NO ONE helped me. So much for the Bayanihan Heal as One Act, when your trash bag gives in, you are on your own.

So, mid-hill, I scamper to go back home to get a more durable bag and save face from neighbors who I know were snickering through their facemasks.

Going almost two months into the lockdown, the kids in our neighborhood are still not allowed to roam nor collect garbage, so for almost eight weeks, the task I have loathed hounds me.

But now, I have a system. My bags have not fallen since that one mortifying time and I have managed to scale the hill without having a heart attack.

Life is beautiful... as I remember a mentor uttering months before he died.

Seems like every week, I live to see Basura Day.


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