Of mountains and garbage

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Ballescas - The Freeman

Urban dwellers are used to seeing smoky mountains in their midst.

Nope, these are not the beautiful mountains of Mother Nature. These are mountains created by those who throw their garbage that pile up like hills and mountains, with smoke emanating from their trash.

Smokey Mountain in Tondo, then Payatas in Metro Manila. Here in Cebu, in Inayawan, then now the trash of Metro Cebu is dumped in the mountain area of Binaliw.

Mountains of garbage from the cities are now being transported high up where the natural mountains used to have lush greenery and fresh air. Mountains of garbage in the cities. Mountains with garbage from the cities. Can’t human beings leave mountains be and avoid generating and disposing waste harming nature?

Gratefully, the mountains of Negros Occidental we visited are still as naturally beautiful, with their fresh air, trees/plants/flowers, and panoramic view of the sea and the lowland. It must be their heights or their location far from Bacolod City that has allowed Mother Nature to proceed through the years.

Tall Mt. Patag, for example, greets people with their huge morning glory, their radiant sunflowers, other colorful but just as beautiful flowers and green grasses, plants, and towering trees.

We may have missed seeing any garbage inside our vehicle, but we can witness that there was not a single plastic item or any other waste in the roads in the parts of Mt. Patag we visited!

Food and kitchen wastes are buried in the soil and later used as fertilizer, residents, resorts and landowners, caretakers shared with us.

Of course, where visitors/tourists are, one observes plastic bottles, wrappers, single-use plastics, paper, other waste types. But up where we were, in the tourist places we stayed in for some nights and those we visited during the day, we were told waste segregation is practiced.

Like any other city or urban areas, however, the garbage trucks come to collect the mountain people’s segregated waste. Then the truck-collected segregated waste is brought to the city dumpsite/landfill described by past media reports to have reached their full capacity two years back, with unsegregated waste.

So the trail of waste from the cities to the mountains go through segregation there but return to the city dumpsites, unsegregated and harmful.

Need to mainstream waste management where disposal is not an option so waste generated in any location stays and is managed in a circular fashion without any other land area dedicated solely, irresponsibly, uselessly for garbage.

Mt. Mambukal remains just as historic and beautiful, with their ample source of natural hot springs and tall, proud trees, green plants, colorful flowers, and beautiful lagoon!

However, as we trekked through Mt. Mambukal, some sad observations: There do not seem to be many local tree species left, with younger non-native trees planted to replenish this mountain forest.

Sadder still, plastics and wastes were noticeably here, there and everywhere. Face masks left behind, PET bottles, sachets, just thrown perhaps by walkers or from vehicles. There were also paper wastes by the road.

Not yet too much trash but unless checked, then soon the garbage will compete with nature’s beauty. Mt. Mambukal, a favorite destination, may lose its natural attraction and splendor.

Regular cleaners come weekly, we were told. Are these cleaners taught to segregate these wastes and the garbage collection trucks with their bins for segregated waste?

Praying waste segregation will be done, soon, often, regularly.

Our country is blessed with so much natural beauty and biodiversity which can provide joy and other benefits to our people and guests, to the whole global community and our planet as well.

Everyone, however, needs to do his/her share to protect nature’s beauty and wealth to be able to sustainably share these now and across generations.

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