GINA LOPEZ: AFTER MANILA, PASIG RIVER REHABILITATION GOES TO QC
Following the significant changes on the surroundings and the lifestyle of residents along the esteros revived by the Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP), the campaign for the rehabilitation of Pasig River is set for an aggressive push to spur local government units in cleaning their own esteros.
This year, KBPIP is focused on the waterways in Quezon City which empties most of its trash to the San Juan River. San Juan River, meanwhile, contributes over 40% of the filth that flows into the Pasig River.
“If we clean San Juan River, we’ll clean half of Pasig River. If we have to clean San Juan River, we have to clean Quezon City,” said Gina Lopez, the managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation that operates KBPIP.
KBPIP patterns much of its rehabilitation efforts after the rehabilitated and beautified Estero de Paco in Manila. It has since undergone a major makeover since the start of its rehabilitation in 2009 – what used to be an immense garbage patch occupied by informal settlers is now a park bordered by plants and illuminated by streetlights.
The rehabilitation process of the estuary began by relocating thousands of families living along the waterways, building linear parks, training of River Warriors or community volunteers who clean and guard the esteros against polluters, and installing active island reactors to bring life back into the estero waters.
Using Estero de Paco as a template, Lopez said she wants every estuary in the metro to be developed as a commercial hub where residents can earn a living and improve their lives. Lopez even takes pride in the construction of a supermarket and a three-story hotel near Estero de Paco that she said wouldn’t have been possible had the estero not been cleaned.
“The conjecture here is that when you clean the esteros, the economy will boom up,” said Lopez.
Lopez also emphasized the benefits of the Estero de Paco clean-up on the lifestyle of residents in the area. For one thing, the estero’s vicinity didn’t suffer from flooding during the onslaught of rains brought by the monsoon winds last August because water could flow easily without trash jamming the stream. Since the estero was cleaned, substantial changes have been noted in the area. Based on the barangay blotter, a 40% reduction in crime incidence was recorded in seven out of 16 barangays near the estero. According to the City of Manila, the value of land near Estero de Paco has also gone up and might benefit the land owner of up to P2 million in 20 years.
More notably, a survey sponsored by KBPIP with 7,000 households living within 200 meters from Estero de Paco revealed that 100% are getting more exercise, 97% have greater sense of community pride, 97% are satisfied with their lives, 89% feel less sick, and 89% feel safer in their community. Eighty five percent of them also claimed they have lower medical expenses due to their cleaner and healthier environment.
“Cleaning the esteros reaches far beyond the economic effect. It goes into the very way they feel about themselves, the way they feel about each other. This is the way to go. We clean the estero and we have a much happier and fulfilled life,” Lopez stressed.
The long-term crusade for cleaner waterways in Metro Manila will go full blast in the upcoming “09.30.2012 Run, Ride & Roll for the Pasig River” to be held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle on Sunday (Sept 30). Over 80,000 participants are expected to show up and take part in the advocacy event that will fund the rehabilitation of esteros in Quezon City.
“The Quezon City experience is really important because it sets the template for other cities. Unless local government units take on the cleaning of the esteros, it’s not going to happen,” said Lopez.
KBPIP has a track record of organizing three successful runs, namely the 2009 Philippine International Marathon: A Run for the Pasig River with an estimated 23,000 participants, the historic 10.10.10 Run for the Pasig River that broke the Guinness World Record for the “most participants in a racing event” with 116,087 runners, and last year’s 11.20.2011 Run for the Pasig River was the largest foot race joined by 86,547 runners.
The 10.10.10 Run for the Pasig River won a Bronze Anvil and an Award of Excellence at the 45th Anvil Awards given by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, while the Estero de Paco clean-up earned an Award of Merit from the 2010 Philippine Quill Awards given by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines.
Registration for the 09.30.2012 Run for the Pasig River is ongoing at SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, R.O.X, Chris Sports Festival Mall and Chris Sports Glorietta. Registration is until Saturday (Sept 29). Aside from the registration, there will also be merchandise available in the SM booths, in which part of the proceeds will also go to the river rehabilitation. For updates on this advocacy run, visit www.runforthepasigriver.com, like www.facebook.com/runforthepasigriver or follow @run4pasigriver on Twitter.