Sunday, 22 January 2012

Letters from Port Moresby

     The beach that shocked Arnel one early morning. – MWBuzzpic by ARNEL P    

Balikbayan shocker


MY YOUNGER brother Arnel, whom I call a dyed-in-the-wool Balikbayan for his love of seeing his native home in its entirety whenever he’s around, was after all good only for one shocker.

Coming home to Parang in Mambulao a few days ago for a 48-hour sojourn, the first thing he decided to see the next morning even before the sun could spring from its bed was the beach of his youth – the beach of Parang.

Only to get the jolt of his life – a whammy, indeed.

He was looking not at his boyhood beach where he strolled on its fine, almost white sand and glided through in its clear water.

Instead, his eyes were fixated on a heap of rubbish that he thought would make for a good prelude to a Mambulao version of the Payatas dumpsite in Tondo.

Suddenly, his gut kicked; his eyes caught a little girl moving about the rubbish, or maybe doing his early morning crap.

Just behind her in the background were a squatter shanty – her home maybe - and a house sitting side by side. Obviously, the beach has become their backyard rubbish dumping site.

And there are many of them.

In fact, they lined the shoreline right from the bridge that links Parang to the Poblacion, up to end of the filthy sand where an ancient, lonesome, water-submerged rock sits just below the potholed road to Larap.

He strolled some more towards the town poblacion.

     The poblacion proper during early morning hours, as seen from the beach, with rubbish 
     showing in the foreground. - MWBuzzpic by ARNEL P HERNANDEZ

Reaching half of the beach’s entire length of about 1.5km, Arnel decided that the scene was not getting any better.

He felt he was walking on a carpet of plastic sheets, rusty tin cans, plastic bottles, dried seaweeds, scraps of papers, cardboards and Styrofoam, banana and tree leaves, and on occasion, human excreta!

What a great idea to welcome him this morning!

It was an early morning beach walk that had gone bad. It would drill deep into in his brain even if had a chance to walk the Boracay beach, that stretch of fine, white sand he is dying to set his feet on.

“I’m really shock to see what has gone with this place …the government here should be sacked!” Hernandez exclaimed in annoyance.

 Arnel makes a stop along the Larap road and starts to ponder – what happened?

And to exact revenge, he got back home briefly, and came back armed with his favorite camera.

“People who know how an environment should be must see these pictures,” he told me in a brief email, where he registered his shock.

As soon as he returned to Yokosuka, Japan where he has been residing with wife Mariles for many years now, he posted the offensive pictures on his Facebook site.

Immediately, they drew comments from Manila to Mambulao, from Australia to Oman - ranging from disgust to triple shocks.

How many more Balikbayans would get the same jolt that Arnel had?

I can hazard a guess: 1,000 – give it plus or minus.

This is the number Balikbayans expected to descend in Mambulao for the general JPNHS alumni homecoming on April 28-29, 2012.

And this is a big party, as everyone now across the globe is speculating. They’d be seeing each again five years after the last homecoming when they partied great.

They might schedule a few minutes to view the beach for a “critical appraisal”.

Might. Because this is nothing but plan kill-joy.

But then, the alumni who would be showing up to the grand party should be focused somehow.

They must consider doing something concrete to rescue this beach from rubbish – a long-term sustainable rescue plan --  and not just imagine and discuss what livelihood projects to initiate for poor Mambuloans or how much fundraising to carry out to send scholars for skills training to Tesda.

And the hierarchy of the JPNHS alumni association should be generous enough to give a whole day for a clean-up exercise at the beach, with the visitors picking up the rubbish themselves.

It would be fun.

This way, our Balikbayans would experience how it is to be in the midst of rubbish, which hopefully, could spur them to do something to get rid of this anomaly once and for all.

They should be able to muster the cooperation of the students – both from Parang Elementary School and JPNHS.

This is workable -- unless our Balikbayans say otherwise.

The beach of Parang is crying for help. It is choking with rubbish, which could also make everyone in the neighborhood sick.

If it’s not tomorrow, it could be one day soon.

      By mid-morning, Arnel drops by at a pier at Baranggay Osmena on the outskirts of    
      Mambulao for a change of scenery. - Pic courtesy of ARNEL P HERNANDEZ

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