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Marikina monument extols personal hygiene

At the very least, it makes people stop and stare. The unusual stone monument of a doctor standing 16 feet tall, washing the behind of a half-naked boy atop a toilet bowl, heralds a city’s successful sanitation and hygiene programs.

The monument in front of the Palengke ng Marikina near city hall depicts the likeness of Dr. Isaac Eustaquio, the first Filipino to earn a Public Health degree from Harvard University in the United States.

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando, a former mayor of Marikina and husband of incumbent Mayor Marides Fernando, said the statue reminds residents that the city is one of the cleanest in the country, where everyone values sanitation and personal hygiene.

Fernando said the huge monument was built more than seven years ago to celebrate the millennium and Marikina welcomed the year 2000 by unveiling the monument after the city achieved its goal of promoting health and sanitation through the realization of a one-toilet-per-household program.

“That’s how we greeted the millennium. We celebrated that occasion as a community that consciously planned how it wants to totally solve sanitation and hygiene concerns,” Fernando said.

“A toilet bowl with a boy standing on it and a doctor washing the child’s behind – hygiene cannot be taught without a toilet in every household,” Fernando told The STAR.

He noted that Marikina had solved the garbage and sanitation problems and the city now has a food laboratory that monitors microbes in food sold in local stores.

“Microbe level na kami, hindi na basura. We are way past the garbage and sanitation problem,” the MMDA chairman said.

Fernando said that what Marikina was able to achieve can also be achieved by other towns, since the national government is now vigorously promoting health and sanitation programs after the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released studies that indicated 31 Filipinos die daily due to ailments caused by poor sanitation and lack of personal hygiene.

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