Members of the Latter-Day Saints Church during a cleanup at the beach of Parang. One of the many supporters of the beach rehab program, the group will be at the beach for this initiative every Saturday and Sunday along with other community civic groups.
The children of the Latter-Day Saints Church members enjoy a day in the sand and water. While some of them waded in the water for fun, others helped pick up rubbish that floated in the water. – All pictures courtesy of WILLIE G RELAO/Facebook
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
ON a clear day, you could see the beach cleaners.
You won’t see the rubbish.
The resurrection of the beach of Parang, in Mambulao, CamNorte, on Easter Sunday, has finally woken up an entire community.
At first unfeeling for years of what was happening to the beach that spreads out right across its backyard, the community in Parang has pulled together to one direction, and that is towards the cleanup of the shoreline.
This exercise, in fact, has become the biggest environmental effort in the municipality of Mambulao never seen before.
And thanks to the citizens of this small fishing town, the beach of Parang is gradually returning to its former glory that awed one and all for what it’s worth – a gift of nature without a price tag.
Spearheaded by the Mambulao Mayor Ricarted “Dong” Padilla, who in April 2012 during the last homecoming of the Jose Panganiban National High School alumni, said that any effort to rid the beach and the bay of rubbish that was then killing them softly needed to be sustained, and not just a palliative job, or for show, or for Facebook posting.
Yes, the key word is sustainability of the exercise.
And sustainability could only be achieved when everyone in the community – from the kids to the adults, from the professionals to the jobless, from young and old to the able-bodied persons – agree to do this job without letup, without expecting for anything in return -- until every piece of dirt that besmirched the face of this stretch of sand disappeared for good.
The final assault was carried out early this year.
Volunteers and local government workers and locals hauled off tons of community debris brought in during high tide from every nook and cranny of every village that sits along the coastlines, whose names we should never forget as the culprits that helped spoiled it – Malapayungan, Calero, Sta Milagrosa, Pag-Asa, Larap, Osmena, Poblacion, Plaridel and of course, Parang.
And finally, on Easter Sunday, the beach resurrected.
The whole community rejoiced to the happy fact that this piece of a community pride has returned, and hopefully for good.
Now, the so-called post-Resurrection exercises should be stepped up, that’s why the beach rescue program was pushed some more, with Artem Andaya, one of the town councilors, being named by Meyor Dong as the Cleanup Czar.
So everyday, a team from the local government and shoreline residents has seen to it that no rubbish is missed.
And during my chat with the mayor last April, he outlined to me what he thought would be needed to make the beach a gem in his tourism push, and put Mambulao in the radar of nature lovers.
But Meyor Dong stressed that all this would be for nothing if total involvement from the residents of Parang is lacking.
So, he met with the purok kagawads in Parang and Plaridel to find out from them how they could make the beach become another place that could draw visitors, who would be willing to spend and generate income for the community.
And early this month, Parang baranggay chairman Wilfredo G Relao met with the village’s entrepreneurs and storeowners to source their cooperation in keeping household rubbish from ending up on the beach.
Afterwards, he launched a daily beach cleanup regime to boost the “Save Mambulao Bay” crusade, which I launched on Facebook in May 2011 and in MWBuzz in November of same year.
The Parang initiative could be called “sweeping” since it involves community at all levels -- the baranggay council officials and personnel, the Women Fitness Club (WiFi), the Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church), Fish Vendors Association, neighborhood association, storeowners, the Women’s Association, Diwa ng Pagkakaisa, the 4ps (Pangtawid Pamilya Pilipino Program) and even the association of gays.
The cleanup activities will target the shoreline and the riverside in Parang.
Each of the seven puroks has been assigned a daily cleanup job along the shoreline and along riverside.
A pickup point for garbage retrieved from the riverside and the beach has been designated for effective collection by the municipal garbage service.
One recent weekend, the adult members of the Latter-Day Saints members trooped to the beach to spruce it up while their kids frolicked in the water or sculpted objects from sand.
Allowing their children to play here with abandon, the church members were confident that all was well with this place and playing in its sand was one healthy kiddy affair that should be enjoyed by many more children.
The truth is that the whole stretch of this sand has been fully rehabilitated -- a state of affair that was earlier feared would never happen.
But many thanks -- good things prevailed over bad ones.
What’s going on here daily is a day-long effort to keep it spic and span, that every piece of offending debris is taken out with extreme prejudice so that the memory of an ugly beach that was this beach for decades until last year would be gone for good.
It was a big surprise that the fine sand along this stretch is gradually recovering after being inundated with red mud and silt, courtesy of nasty gold mining operations that have been taking place on the other side of the bay.
And by just looking at the pictures accompanying this piece, I could readily say that we’ve got a superb beach that should one day win back bathers and strollers.
Last April, I walked this beach barefooted and felt the smooth crunching of dirty-white sand against my soles. The feeling was great – the same feeling I had when I was a young boy walking this stretch in the 50s.
I surmised that in a few more months, the sand’s fineness would assume a new grade to make it more inviting to those who love an early morning stroll by the serene water.
Give it another eight months and this will become the talk of the town as hundreds of overseas Mambulaoans converged on this community for their grand alumni homecoming on Easter Week of 2015.
Pictures of this beach Balikbayans would be seeing on Facebook or in pictures going with this story would pale in comparison once they set foot on its sand.
But it is neither the pristine sand nor the modest beach facilities that may draw their awe.
One day, they will see this beach in living color and feel the balmy breeze from the bay.
And maybe, they would be amazed to realize that its raw beauty and the movements of souls imprinting footsteps in the sand are the hallmark of a long-gone love for the environment, which is now coming back because a community decided to wake up and do Mother Nature the right thing it deserves.
Long live the beach of Parang!
To the beach of my youth – welcome back!
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