Sorry, COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brilliantes, but I do not have 48 hours to wait for your proclamations. My column is due at the press NOW and so I must use your unofficial transparency count as of 3:30pm of May 14 as Gospel truth. If it's not, then you have a problem, don't you?
I join the membership of the Bacolod Anti-Baha Alliance in welcoming a brighter day after the elections. We congratulate the newly elected local government officials of the country, but especially of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City. BRAVO! Our Gov. Freddie Marañon has successfully won his second term by such a commanding lead I could hear a pin drop. We welcome Vice Governor-Elect Bong Lacson who was Mayor when San Carlos City bagged the Galing Pook Award for its Solid Waste Management effort. Known as the Echo Center, it has become a benchmark for many communities nationwide wanting to establish their own SWM programs. With Gov. Freddie keen on organic farming and Vice Gov. Bong seasoned about SWM, I truly hope that SWM will finally spread like wildfire in Negros Occidental. In the two, I find a perfect fit.
Because our advocacy is based in Bacolod City, the grand central station of unsegregated trash in Negros Occidental, we stretch our hands in cooperation to the new officials of the city, led by Mayor-Elect Monico "Newks" Puentevella who gave the environment priority in his campaign agenda. It was a first. Many heard and duly took note. We also applaud the election of Bing Leonardia to the House of Representatives, for after all, it is during his term as Mayor that Bacolod's sanitary landfill was built. We ask him to use some of his pork barrel to expand the landfill when the time comes. We have a comebacker: Vice Mayor-Elect Greg Gasataya once upon a time worked with us in an attempt to mitigate the garbage problem of the city. Because of hisfluency on the matter, we are assured that any further SWM ordinance will fly through his Council uninterrupted. Of course, the Vice Mayor will enjoy lots of help, and it will come from our newly elected Councilors or SPs whose rank gives me so much reason to smile.
If you're entertained by this column, there must be a bug eating you up inside for the awful way our government is handling our garbage mess. Thank you for taking up this advocacy, but we need to do a lot more, for alas, that government I lament is a government BY THE PEOPLE. And there lies our task at hand. In past elections many of us supporting solid waste management momentarily put aside our advocacy to campaign for candidates we fancied, with no regard at all for our cause.We shelvedsolid waste management because it is too parochial for the glitz and glamorof national politics.We put the environment on hold. And what did that gain us? Rubbish, and more of it.Can we, for once, put our advocacy front and center of our lives and vote for it? What's the point in having an advocacy when it cannot even sway our votes?How can government take solid waste managementseriously when we don't bring the issue to the polls?There's just no green vote. It's all fluff, politicians joke. We've seen how this manner of choosing our officials has led to the pathetic state of our environment, indeed to the failed enforcement of Republic Act 9003, our solid waste management law, 12 years after it was enacted. A dozen wasted years prove we voted unwisely in past elections.This Monday, May 13, please vote for candidates friendly to solid waste management. If you don't, then you have no right to complain about unsegregated, uncollected trash. Vote green or suffer the filth for the next three years. In terse English, put up or shut up. In gentler English, you make your bed, you lie on it.
Electing leaders comes once in three years, so let us cherish the opportunity to deodorizegovernment of useless officials, and replenish it with people who are trustworthy, fearless, and most important of all, willing to take up our advocacy. Let us not forget, let us not go astray, our advocacy is solid waste management, not the hungry, not the homeless, not the sidewalk vendors, not the landless farmers, not the victims of scams, not RH Law. Though equally noble, thesehavetheir ownsupporters. Meanwhile, we support solid waste management, socome Monday, that must be uppermost in our minds and at the tip of our pens, without question or pause.
I'm surprised and thrilled that the first three senatoriables that El Shaddai endorsed are at the top of my own list of green candidates, namely, Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, and MigzZubiri. El Shaddai is not new to favoring political candidates, in fact, its gathering is a must-attend event for those aspiring to be elected to a national post. Too bad, it's by invitation only. And from past elite groups that have shared the stage with Bro. Mike Velarde, a few have been truly blessed. Remember Bro. Mike's famous "Tiyakyun", which some believe catapulted Erap to the palace? Well, you don't lose anything for believing, so go ahead and believe. I certainly won't lose anything since there's nothing more to lose. We already don't have the support of the national government, especially the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources whose long name belies its short list of achievements. Do I have to nag about the trash slide in Rizal? But really, somebody's got to account for the deaths of four workers there. As far as I'm concerned, if the DENR only implemented Republic Act 9003, our solid waste management law, that trash slide in Rizal, and many other killer trash slides in the past, would not happen. I pray that will change with the entry of "greener" Senators after the May 13 elections. Indeed, El Shaddai's "white vote" might as well be called the "green vote". Our reasons for supporting Gordon, Binay, and Zubiri may be unrelated, but with El Shaddai endorsement, our green candidates will surely sit in the Senate. Tiyak din yun.
BUYING LOCAL. Never in my wildest dream did I anticipate questioning our fondness for things imported in favor of things local. But that is the call of the times, and it is right by Mother Earth.
Buying local refers to the latter-day practice of buying fresh produce (veggies, fruits, meats) from local producers. While the benefit to community farmers is obvious, such as better profit margins due to the elimination of middle men and groceries, the initial impetus of the movement is about being green. Buying local means the reduction of carbon emission from planes, ships, and delivery trucks that bring supplies to our supermarkets.Decreasing carbon footprint is the first point about buying local, because we lessen the distance that food must travel from the farm to your table. Is there a maximum limit to the distance? This is a legitimate question because, for instance, those living in landlocked communities can only buy frozen fish trucked into their towns. So, how near should "local" be? Google may have answered this question.
Several months back, I had the chance to visit the new sanitary landfill of Bacolod City in Brgy. Felisa. I was very disappointed though to find unsegregated trash in the landfill, something that's both wrong and illegal. But that was before Metrowaste was hired by the city to collect our garbage. With the entry of Metrowaste, I was hoping for change, that we will all be taught to segregate our trash so that only the 10% residual waste will be collected and sent to the landfill. But I remained skeptical about such change taking place, since Metrowaste is being paid by the tonnage of trash it collects. To collect mere residual waste would be antithetical to Metrowaste'sbusiness interest, wouldn't it?
Last Wednesday, April 17, at around 8am, while driving somewhere in Brgy. Villamonte, Bacolod City, I spotted a garbage truck picking up unsegregated trash. The huge dump truck was colored light blue, bore the logo of Metrowaste on the driver's door, and had the plate number RML 480. Normally, it is not easy to check if the garbage loaded on such a truck is unsegregated because its back is covered witha steel swing door. But just when I was driving by, the truck was being loaded and so the back was partially open, clearly showing unsegregated trash. I also saw yellow plastic shopping bags, something that our city ordinance has long banned. I hope that the truck drivers and garbage collectors of Metrowaste know that under Republic Act 9003, our solid waste management law, it is they who actually pick up and deliver unsegregated trash to the landfill who will be accosted, fined, and imprisoned; not the Mayor, not the Vice Mayor,not the Councilors, not even Metrowaste officials.Contrary to claim that trucks carrying unsegregated trash are no longer allowed to enter our landfill, I am inclined to believe, as my four eyes have seen,that we are still depositing unsegregated trash in our sanitary landfill in Brgy. Felisa.And that's a bad thing. The facility has so far cost us P55 Million borrowed money. If Metrowaste continues to dump 100% unsegregated trash into ourlandfill, instead of 10% residual waste only, the facility will be filled up sooner than later, and we will need to borrow millions more to expand it. The practice iswasteful. It is illegal.And it is life-threatening. Look at Rizal.
Bacolod City Administrator Atty. John Orola, in a sincere show of transparency,forwarded to me unsolicited information regarding our new garbage collection system and schedule. A meeting was recently held and attended by representatives of the Dept. of Public Services, heretofore in-charge of garbage collection, and Metrowaste, the private company hired by the city to take over the task. It was noted that as of April 1st, Metrowastewas using 17 garbage trucks, 23 short of the 40 trucks stipulated in the MOA of the two parties. It is not clear if the 23 are also available, and if they are, why they're not being used.Or, if they're not available, why not? What ismade plain is that there are 17 trucks moving about collecting the city's trash. Metrowaste had previously appealed for understanding at this time that they are starting, so I suspect that this discrepancy is why our indulgence is being prayed for. Fair enough.
According to the garbage collection schedule released by the City Administrator's Office, there will be 30 trucks collecting every day. I hasten to clarify, perhaps we mean 30 trips, since there are only 17 trucks. So I suppose 13 of the 17 trucks will have to do two trips a day. Forgive my nit-picking, the more important point is this, that with 17 trips our daily haul of 200 tons of unsegregated garbage will be collected. Will they? Let me touch on segregation later. For now, I share with you the daily garbage collection schedule of Bacolod so that you, the public, may know.
A conundrum? Here's how that works. Mosaic is a company based in Oakland, Calif. It seeks out investorsto fund the purchase and installation of solar panels in offices that have the cash flow to pay monthly solar fees, but not the CAPEX to buy the system outright. Profit is the self-interest. Clean energy makes that same profit enlightened and okay. Investors can put in as little as $25, and ROI is shy of 7%, already good in these times.
Mother Jones and OnEarthran the story of Youth Empowerment Partnership whose solar project worth $40,000 attracted 51 investors. But how can YEP, an NGO, pay Mosaic investors back? With solar power, YEP's monthly electric bill dropped from $1,350 to $150, savings that hint at high collectability. Recently, Mosaic raised $1 Million for 12 clean energy projects,just within days, and all because of enlightened self-interest. Mosaic president Billy Parish finds urgency in galvanizing the public to invest in clean energy because the growth of solar power has been slow, today accounting for no more than 0.1% of total electricity consumption in the U.S. There's another reason.
Not too long ago, I wrote about Suntech Power Holdings, a manufacturer of solar panels based in China that sold its panels at a much lower price than leaders Sanyo and Mitsubishi. I thought solar panels would fly off supermarket shelves, so to speak. But Suntech's low-price strategy backfired. With new entrants, the industry now has over capacity, too many solar panels, too few buyers. Yesterday we learned that Suntechfiled for bankruptcy. What gives? Now that we have Mosaic to deploy solar panels, we lose the low-price manufacturer. Luckily for Suntech(and the environment), Warren Buffet is looking to buy in. I hope he does.
Once upon a time, it took a typhoon to cause flooding in the country. Before long, it took a low pressure area. These days, it only takes trade winds, in this case easterlies, to flood the streets of Manila. That's what happened Sunday when easterlies blew a thunderstormour way. In no time, water was chest deep in Quezon City. The Metro Manila Development Authority provided updates in its Twitter account. One said: "As of 9:50 PM, MMDA Rescue send(sic) rubber boat in Peacock St. East Fairview at the back of PLDT-chest deep." Taft seemed better: "Gutter deep flooding at EDSA Taft NB as of 10:02PM." The public chimed in. Actor Manny Castañeda tweeted: "Already? And bilisnaman." Chicprotagonist seconded: "Shocking, di ba? Just a little thunderstorm and ganunna." As news reports filtered in, men on the street blamed garbage clogging canals and esteros. Their verdict was unanimous, so the culprit couldn't have been the thunderstorm. Peter Gallera wrote on MMDA's Facebook page: "The corner of Banawe and Retiro is still submerged in knee-deep water. To think that the QC government just finished their drainage improvement project in the area. Walang improvement.Sayanglangpera."Benedicto Co echoed: "Dahilmgataotaponngtaponngbasurakung san san, di nanatuto".I applaud these Filipinos for coming out and speaking their hearts and minds. What is it they say about bad things happening because good men do nothing? I don't know Environment Sec. Ramon Paje, so I can't say he's a good man, but I know he's not doing anything as Chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, we associated Holy Week with the peak of summer. Not anymore. Last Wednesday I changed my FB profile picture to a shot of poinsettia blooms, which are actually autumn leaves, withered by cold weather and less sun. Friends asked if I was somewhere in the northern hemisphere. No, I was in our farm, not too far from the equator. There, I observe, poinsettias that grow profusely now bloom wildly year-round. The following day, winter showed its ugly side as hail stones, also known as frozen rain, pummeled parts of Quezon City. Glass windows of restaurants and stores were smashed. What could have triggered this alien winter invasion? What extra-terrestrial force could have induced Christmas to bloom at Easter? I do not believe that we are not aware that climate change is upon us because we talk about it almost everyday now. But that too little is done to mitigate the problem alludes to some ignorance, or attitude problem. Today worldwide, up to 97% of respected climate scientists are convinced that man is to blame for the warming of the earth in the last century. From NASA's website, a joint statement by 18 scientific associations reads: "Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver." Indeed, the mundane act of disposing unsegregated trash is blamed for methane emission, by far the most toxic greenhouse gas causing global warming. Cows burping, a major source of methane release, is blamed to carnivorous man.Climate change is staring at us and we go about our days as if nothing's the matter. It's time we stopped treating climate change as a distant phenomenon and deal with it up close, as close as the slab of steak staring at you from your dinner plate. That's my beef.
It's confirmed. In a meeting held just yesterday afternoon, the Bacolod Anti-Baha Alliance, an NGO advocating ecological solid waste management (SWM) and other efforts to end flooding, has accepted the challenge to run an SWM demo area at the Negros Farmers’ Weekend Market in Bacolod City. Scheduled to open this Saturday, March 16, the market is a public education effort of DC Cruz Trading Corp. and Herbe Foundation. Sitting on a 1.2-hectare property, shoppers will have access to farm-fresh produce and agricultural technologies, among others. With this strong leaning towards sustainable farming and a healthier way of life, it would be a disservice if we allow the place to be defiled by plastic bags.
With some construction work needed, we estimate the SWM demo area to begin towards the end of the month. The actual demonstration of how trash is segregated, step by step, achieves so much more than endless hours of lecturing or distributing tons of flyers translated in all languages of the Philippines. Trash segregation is a science no doubt, but it isn't rocket science either. Once started, an average household can easily sustain it. Bacolod City has already built a sanitary landfill and recently engaged the services of a private company to collect trash.
We just need massive education on trash segregation to complete the SWM equation. Bacolod also has a local ordinance regulating plastic bags, and it would be a shame if that cannot be implemented just because people have not been educated.
The organizers of the NEGROS FARMERS WEEKEND MARKET in Bacolod City are seriously considering the inclusion of a demonstration area for trash segregation. That means, shoppers who come here every Saturday can learn how to segregate their trash from actual demonstration. This is welcome news. Now that Bacolod has a landfill and a private contractor to collect garbage, trash segregation education is the missing component to a successful solid waste management program. The weekend market will open next Saturday, March 16th. See you there.
I congratulate Mayor Herbert Bautista for banning plastics as material for political campaign paraphernalia. The only material with plastic component that will be allowed in Quezon City is the tarpaulin because this can be recycled. Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation was quick to appeal on ANC that tarps should also be banned. Why not? Let's start with the controversial tarp in Bacolod. I'm not being facetious. There's real danger that this controversial tarp will end up in our landfill after the May elections. But what is this controversial tarpaulin, anyway?