Volunteer “beach rubbish busters” at work
Maybe one more pass would finally make this portion of the beach completely sanitized.
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
AT LAST, the rubbish-inundated beach of Baranggay Parang has received a much-needed facelift, thanks to the joint efforts of different concerned groups in Jose Panganiban.
The beach clean-up, which finally came on April 7, was spearheaded by the Jose Panganiban National High School Alumni Association under a committee chaired by Cathy Book of Batch ’84.
The day-long effort to rid the beach of Parang of tons of debris and community rubbish was dubbed “Pagsagip ng Kalikasan, Kaagapay ang Alumni: JP Bay Area Clean-up Drive”.
It was participated in by several baranggays that included the south and north sectors, Bagumbayan, Motherlode and Plaridel and the Purok 5 in Baranggay Parang, which covers the shoreline households, most of them squatter families.
The 1.5km shoreline stretches from the mouth of the mangrove river next to the poblacion and ends up at the rock walls along the road to Larap.
Most of those who worked the beach hauling off tons of rubbish were high school alumni based in Jose Panganiban, residents from Purok 5 in Baranggay Parang and several baranggay captains and their constituents.
Even the children from the beach households were seen helping out to haul off big debris of rubbish and dump them into sacks.
At least one truck believed to have been deployed by the municipal government was seen hauling dozens of sacks of collected rubbish and brought them to a landfill somewhere in Larap.
During the clean-up, a child was seen defecating at the beach, after which he went straight into the water, shocking onlookers including town Mayor Ricarte Padilla, who came to cheer up the “rubbish beach busters”.
One alumnus commented on Facebook that “nobody dared to take pictures or video of the kid as it could embarrass the mayor”.
The tons of rubbish along the 1.5km long community beach had began piling up some five years ago but it was only on April 7 that the community decided to deal with it.
The alumni association has planned a second outing to finish off the job, this time hoping to draw more community support in terms of volunteer cleaners and “meryenda” donations for volunteers’ snack foods and refreshments.
One alumnus, Engineer Ed Alvero (Batch ’74), has pledged to provide volleyball sets to Purok 5 in Baranggay Parang for its children so they could make use of the beach to play the sport in the afternoon while keeping the place clean.
This way, the community would be encouraged to sustain the beach clean-up so that the children could continue using the beach as volleyball court, Alvero posted on Facebook.
Mambulaoans overseas who saw pictures of the beach clean-up posted on Facebook heaped praises on the efforts to save and rehabilitate the community shoreline.
One of them, Edraline Bencito said: Ipagpatuloy nating mga kababayan ang paglinis ng tabing-dagat … napakagandang tingnan and malinis na beach … ipagmalaki natin an gating bayang Jose Panganiban sa kalinisan ng beach.”
Mrs Elvira Hernandez, 85, now a resident in Pasig but visits her ancestral home in Parang at least three times a year, commented after seeing the online pictures of a new-look beach: Talaga namang maganda ang beach natin sa Parang lalo na nuong diyan pa tayo nakatira nuong mga 50s-60s … napakalinis at ang sarap pumasyal sa umaga … pinabayaan lang nga mga nakatira diyan sa tabing dagat na masala-ula … dapat bantayan na ang beach para hindi na tapunan ng basura …”
The drive to save the beach from worsening environmental pollution began in April last year when a Balikbayan from Papua New Guinea (PNG) saw the beach in its appalling state.
Immediately, the visitor, who is a native in Parang, took pictures and posted them in a newly opened Facebook account called Taga Jose Panganiban Camarines Norte Ka Ba? (http://www.facebook.com/groups/214550788572931) through which he launched a crusade to save the dying beach.
However, the effort to bring the beach’s sad plight into the consciousness of the community was ignored and that nothing was done about the worsening pollution along the shore.
When the online newsletter Mambulaoans Worldwide Buzz (MWBuzzz) was launched last November to bring news of relevance to Mambulaoans based overseas and in the Philippines, among the first major stories it carried focused on the appalling state of the Mambulao Bay and the beach.
At the same time, it consistently published pictures of the rubbish that carpeted the entire stretch of the shoreline.
It its last editorial (11th edition - April) titled “Rubbish beach tourism”, it had - tongue in cheek -- encouraged the government of Padilla to promote the beach of Parang as a tourism destination for being the only beach in the world with so much rubbish – a clear showcase on how not to protect the environment.
The editorial declared: The town government could drumbeat on its website: Jose Panganiban is the only country in the world to have it and that the travel coming here and seeing a rare show could be an emotional and psychological experience.
“One thing sure: it would easily draw awe from the visitors and offer them an inspiration on how to care for the environment back home.
When this happens – as it would surely do – the money they spent coming to see the beach of Parang would be worth it, as the awesome or appalling experience would bring them to a higher level of consciousness towards the protection of our environment and at the same time, how not to protect it.” (See related story titled Photo essay … Parang beach ‘rubbish busters’, by Alfredo P Hernandez below)
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