Before that, I congratulate the membership of the Association of Negros
Producers for the successful staging of the 29th Negros Trade Fair in Glorietta
from September 24 to 28. This annual event is the longest-running provincial
trade fair held in Manila every year, but the latest edition is unlike any
before. This year's theme, "Smiles Beyond Borders", was the altruistic response
of the ANP to Typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol Earthquake, and the interrupted
lives that trailed behind. ANP wanted to help, that's for sure, but instead of
sending another mothballed sweater from the trunk, ANP designed something more
proactive, one that could impact positively on the capacity of victims to get up
and move on. Some ANP members outsourced labor to affected areas to jumpstart
livelihoods, while others bought debris and upcycled these into raw materials.
What could have been left as garbage in the landfill was gathered and
incorporated in Christmas ornaments, fashion accessories, home furnishings, even
rosaries made of felled wood from Tacloban. Truly, one person's trash is
another's treasure. These types of raw materials and skilled labor are abundant
and more accessible in Negros, but the call to go beyond borders was loud and
clear. And then, what goes around comes around. The goodness that the ANP showed
came back in the form of increased sales. In a report issued by the ANP
leadership, this year's trade fair raked in P17 Million in sales, or P4 Million
more than the previous year. See? It pays to be nice.
Another group that recently went beyond its borders, although in a different
way, is Gawad Kalinga in Negros. Led by Bobby Magalona, the organization has in
time expanded its work from building houses to delivering services to the
greater barangay community. GK is able to do this with the help of
student-volunteers from different schools. With this army of young, energetic
do-gooders, Bobby met with me in mid-September to discuss the possibility of
teaching trash segregation to barangays. I thought I died and went to heaven,
honestly. Educating residents in barangays is the key to segregation at source
(at home), prayed for by our national garbage management law, Republic Act 9003.
After years of work in this advocacy, I believe that education is the biggest
challenge of all, not only because it is hard to change habits formed out of
convenience, such as not segregating trash, but more so because of the daunting
task of teaching over a hundred million waste generators that live on these
islands from sea to shining sea. That we in the Bacolod Anti-Baha Alliance do
not have a crew to begin the task makes the offer of GK manna from heaven. Now,
our job is to train student-volunteers how to teach segregation in barangays.
Although we admit that peculiarities between barangays will require mutations in
garbage management systems, we are determined to simplify the work into a
five-step process without sacrificing correctness.