The Battle for Manila Bay
ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2019 - 12:00am

On Jan 27, 2019, we witnessed another historical event that gathered thousands of people from all walks of life in a solidarity walk to save the once majestic Manila Bay. I was fortunate enough to be part of this emotional event together with the rest of my group, the Republic Defenders, as we walked with many others from Quirino Grandstand to Manila’s Baywalk and kick off the clean up drive or what we proudly call, the battle for Manila Bay.

It may sound rather sentimental to use the word “emotional” when describing the events which transpired on this day. However, that was exactly how many of us felt as we joined the rest of the Cabinet members under the Duterte administration led by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu.

On social media we have seen how beautiful looking this Bay is, yet we cannot ignore the other posts which have been shared by concerned citizens who have noticed how some others still manage to throw their garbage without conscience.

It truly takes political will to enact such an order to bring back the beauty of Manila Bay, most especially for the next generation.

In order for us however, whether it be our government leaders or members of civil society to truly succeed in such a “battle,” we must put great effort in changing our mindset. Having interviewed environmentalists and the like, we have always come to the conclusion that the biggest challenge remains in the response of the people toward such a campaign.

More often than not, it is the excitement of such projects that initially motivates us, but after the “luster” is gone, only a few dedicated members continue and soldier on.

This is why as an educator I have always felt the need to reiterate that projects should be treated as programs because of the sustainability concerns which are associated with them. Programs help us understand more fervently that learning is continuous and that efforts need to evolve in order to achieve the end goal.

This is certainly easier said than done, but definitely with much collaboration and commitment, it can be done. A program such as this is a test for us all. It is a test of our real love for country which goes beyond words and focuses on our deeds.

Simply having the mindset of taking our trash with us instead of hiding it under the sand is very telling to say the least, of how much we value such a campaign spearheaded by our government,  and how we as citizens respond to its call. If only we carry within ourselves this basic act of throwing our garbage properly simply because we know it is the right thing to do, we can only imagine the kind of ripple effect that can further push our efforts forward.

The Battle for Manila Bay is truly about us – our responses toward a goal we are determined to achieve. It is only the beginning for us and there is so much to be done. With this therefore, it is time we combine all our efforts and start being proactive members of society that focuses on sustainable solutions that will in the end be passed on together with all the learnings we’ve gained in the process, as our “gift” to the next generation.

The question we therefore ask ourselves is, are we truly ready for battle? Because quite frankly, we’ve only just begun. As for many of us gathered that day, we humbly but proudly say, challenge accepted.

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