Basura = Baha sa Bacolod

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Garbage Problems and Baha sa Bacolod

For so many years already, Bacolod City, here Negros Occidental, Philippines, has been having problems with baha or flooding. When there is a strong rain for like 30 minutes, expected some areas in the central, north, south, and east to become flooded. Affected areas are not necessarily those in the coastal areas. These are supposedly urban areas.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
What you throw away will come back to haunt. Yes, our basura mostly causes the Baha in Bacolod.

I have to apologize for this post. It has become my mission to promote Bacolod City to the world. I had to think long and hard before writing this because it seems like I am contradicting myself. However, if nobody will speak up about this, who will?

First of all, I am not blaming the Bacolod government, for what they are doing or for lack thereof in dealing with the garbage problem of the city. It’s beyond my scope because this is not a political blog. This is a lifestyle blog and thus, I will zero in on the lifestyle of the people.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
This photo was taken a couple of years ago by Jun Hinojas and published in the RMN Facebook page. This is the parking lot of Robinsons Place and part of Lacson Street, Mandalagan during one of the floods here in Bacolod. We have experienced this many times over.

The aim of this post, therefore is to inform, show reality, and hopefully, bring about a lasting change in our society so that we will avoid floods and the difficult situations that come with these calamities.

Segregation

I am not sure when this started, but I remembered that several years back, the city has campaigned for waste segregation and recycling in the communities. Fliers were given to every household, informing them of how to segregate garbage.Β  I remember that the flier had an Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) translation so that all locals will understand it.

In our household, the flier was taped to our kitchen wall in order to remind the helpers how to segregate garbage and to comply with the city’s ordinance.

One day, I was looking out our third floor balcony when I saw the dump truck pull up in front of our gate. The neighbors’ trash was segregated in different containers. The collector poured the contents of the all three containers in the same truck, mixing them altogether. If I wasn’t carrying a sleeping baby back then, I would have called their attention. What’s the purpose of segregating at home when the collectors just dump them altogether anyway?

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
Yes, this is our city. Let’s keep it clean. We see these signs all over. Please, Bacolodnons, let’s do our share.

This was several years ago so I am hoping that the practice is better now. But Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran’s revelation last February 2018 proved me otherwise. According to a local daily, the vice mayor confirmed that most of the city residents are not complying with the waste segregation policy and that Bacolod is still β€œzero” in terms of compliance. Tsk. Tsk.

People’s Attitude

Then of course, there’s the people’s attitude towards garbage. Many years ago when my husband and I were still dating, we took the jeepney one time. There was a mom and her preschool kid seated in front of us. The child was eating something and when she was done, her moms quizzed her on what to do with her trash. The girl said that she needs to throw it in the bin. Then the mom continues to quiz her on what to do if there is no trash can around (like if there is none in the jeepney). The girl answered to put the trash in the pocket.

The girl aced the quiz. The mom must have already been teaching her daughter what to do with her trash–that she should not just throw it anywhere and that if there are no trash bins nearby, she should bring it home and throw the trash in their trash bins at home. That means the little girl will have to put the plastic in her pocket and wait till they got home to throw that piece of plastic in the trash.

We silently praised the mom for her conscientiousness.

But that situation is an exemption rather than a rule. Many times, we have been driving and we would see a passenger from the jeepney we are following throw a bag full of fastfood containers and plastic cups. We would walk around the Bacolod Capitol Lagoon and see people leave fastfood containers, plastic cups, as well as plastic bags of popped rice that are used to feed the fish inside the lagoon.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
I don’t know what to think about this. At home, we take care of our books because we love them. In this book display, somebody inserted a couple of cardboard cups. πŸ™

Yesterday, I was at the mall and in a book display, two small cups were inserted among the books. I was like, what? There are so many trash cans at SM City Bacolod, couldn’t they take a few extra steps to find a bin?

Capitol Shopping: An Example

We live in a commercial district called the Capitol Shopping Center in Brgy. Villamonte, Bacolod City. I haven’t seen this place during its heydays about 30-40 years ago. But now, a lot of the buildings are now dilapidated.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
The vacant lot between Wilmar Enterprises and Sandok Comfort Food along Narra Avenue. It always has a lot of garbage dumped here and it can get pretty smelly that the people living in our building are getting headaches and respiratory ailments. We have cleaned this area many times, but people still keep dumping their garbage here.

What irks me is the lack of consideration and discipline of the people around here. Since there are many vacant lots in the area, the owners or the neighbors have put up fences so as the prevent vagrants from staying there and also to keep people from dumping garbage in the lot. So what do some of our neighbors do? They dump their garbage in front of the fence. Or, they throw their trash bags over the fence, like they were dunking a basketball or throwing a three-point shot. Talk about being inconsiderate.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
Close up of the piles of garbage on the vacant lot next to our building.

Honestly, we don’t think that those who live next to the vacant lots are the ones dumping the garbage, such as our neighbor Sandok Comfort Food. It is illogical because they would just be harming themselves in the long run. After all, there are several Bacolod restaurants around our vicinity.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
We would like to thank the owner of the vacant lot for putting up this tall, steel fence. Hopefully, this is will ward off illegal dumpers. Last time, we had a bamboo fence installed here but it was destroyed during one of the strong typhoons.

We are thinking that those “dumpers” could be the workers who don’t actually live in the area. Also, it could be those who are living several houses away. It is just pure laziness, inconsideration, and lack of respect because the designated garbage pick up points in the Capitol Shopping Center is just the island in the middle of the street. So why walk all the way to the empty lots instead of crossing the street where it is nearer? Pathetic.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
Although there already is a fence in front, we are afraid that people will still continue with their bad practice. Case in point, this photo. This is the back view of that fenced up vacant lot. The bamboo fence we installed at this back exit is still there but look at where the garbage is being dumped. We have hired people to clean up this area several times and the work usually lasts two days. But it doesn’t take long for the place to be covered again. πŸ™

This practice has continued over the years that the right of way that connects from Hilado Street and goes through to B.S. Aquino Drive is already closed because of the garbage. It used to be a two-car passage for the building owners. But thanks to the unscrupulous dumping of garbage, we have this situation. And if this continues, it will not be long for the entire strip to be closed.

Societal Ills

Now, this is just the Capitol Shopping Area. I believe this garbage scenario is reflective of the entire Bacolod City. I have seen many dumps in some puroks around the city. Multiply all these garbage and what do we get?

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
This can be found at the back of another building in the Capitol Shopping Center.

Sickness, clogged drainage, and of course, floods. This is a societal ill.

Workers With No Dedication

So I have already mentioned about garbage collectors who just dump already segregated garbage and mix them altogether in their truck. Then there are garbage collectors who do not do their work. Garbage can remain uncollected for weeks.

Then there is another set of workers I have witnessed. There was a time several years ago here in Shopping when workers opened manholes around Hilado Street and Narra Avenue. They removed the garbage in the sewers with the purpose of de-clogging the sewage system. They placed the trash they collected beside the manhole, probably waiting for another team to clean it up.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
Flooded Araneta Street, Bacolod City. Photo by Jubea Dianala.

The problem was, no other team came by. A few days later, it rained. Guess where all the garbage collected went?

My Wish

The garbage dumps around the Capitol Shopping Center are filthy, unhygienic, and they smell so bad. Gawd! Honestly, I have wished that whenever there is a flood in our area, the garbage they throw will show up on their doorsteps.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
This is also along Narra Avenue. That vacant lot has a fence but it didn’t keep people from throwing their garbage there.

Of course, that does not happen, so all of us “get punished” by the thoughtless actions of some people. When the area gets flooded, you will see the dark colored water rise and garbage floating around. It’s disgusting, to say the least. And we all suffer.

Call to Action

  • Proper Garbage Collection

The city might need to be stricter in the proper garbage collection, such as counter-checking measures if their contractors are really doing the job and not just when its near Christmastime. I think many will agree with me on this–we have observed that we see the dump trucks roll around more frequently with their solicitation envelopes when the holidays are near.

For us, I think that’s okay to give them cash gifts during Christmas. Let’s face it, these workers are not the wealthiest among us. A little Christmas cheer can buy extra stuff for their families. Let’s take it as an opportunity to thank them, as they are serve us and our city. We just hope that will encourage them to be dedicated all year through and not just during the holidays.

In another light, perhaps I believe that there is also a need to give them formal training on proper garbage collection and handling. While this might seem like a no-brainer job, we need to educate them about the purpose of their jobs and what happens if they don’t do it well.

  • Materials Recovery Facility

A landfill has never been the solution to the growing garbage problem of any place in the world. But an effective and efficient materials recovery facility will. I am not sure what will be more effective given our culture here, but I would take anything either from the government or the private sector as long as our trash can be processed with more efficiency and result in by-products that will support the community (i.e. energy).

  • Segregation

Segregation of garbage must happen at home, in stores, in malls, offices…everywhere. I think hospitals are more keen on the segregation aspect, especially because of their infectious wastes.

Meanwhile, garbage collectors should also be educated about this. So there’s segregated garbage, what do they do about it then?

  • Awareness

Let’s have more information campaign about the effects of littering all around us. Let there be information flooding on the school level, the offices, and the homes on a barangay level. If there’s a flood that we need, it’s the education about how garbage affects us.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
Beside this vendor’s cart at the Panaad Park is a sign to help keep the park clean. But maybe, we can also include messages like these with suggestions on how to keep our public places clean.

It’s not just unsanitary, it can cause floods. And we have experienced it in our midst. No matter how the government digs and enlarges sewage pipes, they will still get filled up if we continue to be careless.

  • Change of Attitude Towards Garbage

With intensive and extensive information campaign, we hope to see a change of attitude about garbage and in the disposal thereof among Bacolodnons. It’s not enough for people to see the obvious in order to change, but hopefully, we will not have to reach the implementation of penalties and fines just for people to take heed.

Oh everyone, for all our sake, let’s dispose of our garbage properly. They are already coming back to haunt us. If we won’t stop, we will all be swimming in garbage sooner or later. Let’s help our cleaners, garbage collectors, and our government.

  • Dealing with Mentally Ill People

I am not sure why, but we do have several mentally ill people loitering around the vicinity of the Capitol Shopping Center. Sometimes, our staff would catch them opening garbage bags and scattering contents. One of them has also destroyed all our potted plants in front of the store. πŸ™

I think that in this concern, the government should address this by keeping them under the care of the DSWD because really, we cannot engage them and tell them to do the right thing.

  • Instruction to Helpers

I have to admit that probably, the homeowners do not know that it is their helpers who are dumping garbage illegally. So it is their responsibility to inform, especially the new hires, where garbage should be thrown. In our family, it is common knowledge among all the staff in our house.

  • Teach Kids Intentionally

Additionally, we grown ups are the examples to our children. If they see us throwing garbage around (i.e. candy wrappers, cigarette butts, coffee cups,Β  etc.) what else would the little ones think? That it is alright to do so.

Aside from showing a good example, let us also teach them properly. We need to guide them in simple matters because it helps build their character. Because if we won’t, who else will?

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
How icky is this? Totally unsanitary.

Remember the story of the mom quizzing her child in the jeepney? She was teaching and showing an example in a gentle way. It would also help if parents would not make house chores, including taking out the trash, a form of punishment so that the kids will not resent doing it.

United Efforts

Our government cannot solve the problem of flooding alone. Bacolod City needs more trees. And more importantly, each and every single Bacolodnon, young and old alike, should be aware about how garbage and not disposing them properly will affect our lives. It’s not as if garbage will only turn up in the homes of those who threw them around. WE ARE ALL AFFECTED.

A single piece of candy wrapper, a shampoo sachet, a cigarette butt, a little plastic wrapping your banana cue, or even a straw — all of these can have a significant impact to our environment if we are careless.

Bacolod garbage - Bacolod floods - materials recovery facility
The government has been doing a lot of these flood control projects (as of April 2018). They are not preventive, but at least they are doing something. But what about us? No matter how big those culberts are, they can still be clogged if we don’t change our ways.

Parents have to teach their children at home. Teachers have to maintain a level of awareness in school. Barangay officials should teach their constituents in the community level. Mayors should motivate lower-ranking officials.

Garbage is everybody’s business. We should all do our share. Bacolod – This is our city. Let’s keep this clean.

How about you? What are your thoughts on the garbage and flood situation of Bacolod?

 


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