The spider web of faults
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2019 - 12:00am

The fault-finding process involved in the “Battle for Manila Bay” has started to take shape in the form of a spider web. Yes it’s a spider web of sorts where if you press on one spot or point at one fault, it will result in a ripple effect of blame throwing at another point and so on and so forth. It never ends because everything is interconnected and everyone is to blame, you and me included, but we are all looking for the easy target, the biggest fish, or the donkey to pin the tail of blame upon.

That is the first challenge facing any and all of us who sincerely want to save Manila Bay or help fight the even bigger monster called “Human Polluters”: We all need to confess our sins or take responsibility. Admit that we are individual and/or community polluters, list down our “sins”, make a decision and commitment not to continue with such behavior or habits, and set goals to stop being polluters at personal, family, corporate and community level. Find a role model or successful business model or example; perhaps copy what certain Japanese or European communities came up with on how to reduce their waste products, how to get rid of waste products etc.

While everyone is talking about fecal coliform levels in Manila Bay and targeted the Manila Zoo, Aristocrat Restaurant, etc. nobody talked about the thousands of restaurants all over Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Pampanga and Bataan whose kitchen and toilet drainage go directly into drainage canals and are part of the spider web of tributaries that spill gunk, sebo, kitchen waste, dishwashing etc. straight into the many rivers that also connect to the spider’s nest called Manila Bay. Congressman Lito Atienza wants to go after Manila and Maynilad Water for allegedly failing to set up the water treatment facilities required by their franchise.

But why are we not calling out governors, mayors, and barangay captains for their role as co-conspirators in the pollution of Manila Bay? Why is the DENR not chasing after building contractors and developers who while in the process of building are the major contributors for serious levels of dust pollution, run offs of sand, cement slurry, and polluted construction water. Even the DOH, DILG and DENR should be studying how developers and builders manage human waste generated by hundreds of thousands of construction workers many of whom use portable toilets or dig temporary latrines in construction sites. Just because we do something for Mother Nature in one hand, it does not excuse or forgive us for conspiring or tolerating other violations done by others. As the Bible teaches us: He who sins in one part of the law, sins in all. You may not shit in your own backyard but if you patronize a restaurant, business establishment or client who dumps his garbage in the canals, streets or buries them in his backyard and know about it, you are guilty.

If the DENR and the DILG want to convince they are serious in their Battle to Save Manila Bay, they should declare a 60-day grace period for people and businesses to clean up their act, then the authorities should act immediately to issue warnings, suspensions, fines, punish even imprison as many guilty people they can find. Go after developers, homeowners, politicians, business establishments. And cast the operations all over the spider web not just in front of Roxas Boulevard.

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Anyone who studied in UP knows that singko or a grade of 5 is the symbol of academic failure. But then again, you really have not been through UP without a “singko.” I also got some “Inc’s” or Incomplete for failing to submit requirements in subjects needed for acceptance to the UP College of Veterinary Medicine. Yes, I was once a frustrated veterinarian before finally finishing journalism.

Things may have turned out differently if I actually met and was mentored by one of the founding members of the VKV Fraternity, also known as the Venerable Knight Veterinarians whose battle cry was “Singko kung Singko” to rally members to strengthen their will to succeed. VKV takes pride as the only vetmed-based fraternity that is present in 18 colleges and state universities in the country. VKV is now considered a powerhouse in the veterinary profession with its alumni occupying top positions in the government, private sector and the academe, here and abroad.

On Feb. 9, the alumni and resident members will come together to commemorate VKV’s 60 glorious years with a grand homecoming at the Summit Ridge in Tagaytay City. With the theme, “Here, There and Everywhere” what makes the 60th anniversary of the fraternity truly meaningful is the renovation of the Dr. Jose A. Solis Museum of Veterinary Anatomy at the College of Veterinary Medicine in UP Los Baños (UPLB).

This Adopt-A-Room Project was funded by the VKV/VLV Foundation Inc. through the contributions from alumni and corporate sponsors. The museum is the only one of its kind in the country that features rare fetal malformations and abnormalities in domestic animals, which are important reference materials for research studies in veterinary embryology. It also houses 12 mounted skeletons with the addition of carabao, ox, sheep, goat, horses, tiger and a dolphin, stuffed birds and some rare specimens. Several sagittally-sectioned distal segments of the equine limb are also on display. Anatomical projects of former students of Veterinary Anatomy and specimens used by graduate and undergraduate thesis students have been added to the existing collections plus skin of the horse, calf, dog and goat. Inside the museum is a photo gallery of Filipino veterinarians who have contributed to the development of veterinary anatomy in the country. The museum is included in the list of must-see facilities in UPLB and exemplifies the Iskolar ng Bayan giving back to UP and the people. Congratulations to VKV.

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