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All hands on deck to save the Manila Bay!


By Deedee M. Siytangco

‘The only things you can take with you when you go on your final journey are the things packed in your heart. So start packing!’

The US side of the majestic Niagara Falls has frozen over, thanks to a snowstorm. Climate change is the culprit. And after Niagara Falls, what else? The glaciers melting?

Here, there is a dry spell affecting a big area in Davao. The temperature has dropped in NCR and in Cavite, the flu bug is running wild. Climate change, too? Take care, dear readers.

Take a lot of vitamin C and citrus fruits, and stay clear of crowded places.

* * *

 Parañaque mayor Eedwin Olivarez, Corregidor Foundation chair Cynthia Carrion Norton, Bobby Joseph, and RCM Jack Rodriguez, who is also vice-chair of the Save Manila Bay of the Manile Yacht Club

Parañaque mayor Eedwin Olivarez, Corregidor Foundation chair Cynthia Carrion Norton, Bobby Joseph, and RCM Jack Rodriguez, who is also vice-chair of the Save Manila Bay of the Manile Yacht Club

Today is the formal launch of Save Manila Bay or the Manila Bay Clean Up project of the DENR (Saludo kami kay Sec. Roy Cimatu) and the government agencies mandated to protect the bay, together with the local government units in the NCR. Most importantly, it has the full support of the private sector, led by the elite Manila Yacht Club and the rotary clubs.

Members of the Manila Yacht Club and Rotary Club are gung-ho about this and full of praise for the quick action of Sec. Cimatu once the problems were brought to him. They expressed their full support to the DENR boss for the Manila Bay cleanup project, which covers Metro Manila, Laguna, Pasig, Cavite, and Batangas.

Commodore Robert “Bobby” Joseph Jr. extolled Sec. Cimatu for taking on this “gargantuan mission” to rehabilitate the bay.

“You have to admire Sec. Cimatu for taking up the cudgels for the mess that is Manila Bay. The bay is one of the top tourist attractions of Manila and it’s about time we show the tourists and the Filipinos abroad that we are capable of taking good care of it,” said the Commodore.

Joseph praised the DENR for having completed the rehabilitation of Boracay despite opposition and criticism from certain sectors. He expressed confidence that the Manila Bay project will succeed for as long as the DENR has a determined leader like Sec. Cimatu. After inspecting the Manila Bay area to learn the extent of the problem, he lost no time in galvanizing the forces of the DENR, meeting with all the sectors after getting a firm grip on the problem.

Our good friend, tourism advocate, Bobby Joseph was elected Commodore of MYC last Nov. 17. Upon taking over the position, he announced an initiative for the club to do its part in revitalizing the bay with the help of Rotarian Tony Oposa who filed and won the case, together with young UP law students in the Supreme Court over two decades ago. Bob explained how the waste originating from factories, informal settlers, hotels, and hospitals have been piling into the bay through various tributaries. Consequently, the waters reek of a very unpleasant stench.

I was there on his takeover as commodore and the stench was so terribly bad—and it was early in the morning! I had to stay inside the airconditioned dining room to avoid the foul smell coming from the bay. And then the once beautiful walk along the wall of the bay under the swaying palm trees was full of the homeless, their makeshift houses, food stalls, and other unpleasant riff-raff. (Where’s my mayor all this time?)

It is Bob’s prime focus as commodore of the Manila Yacht Club and he has poured his usual passion into the project.

The other agency very concerned and supportive of the project is the Department and Tourism. Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat has given her all-out support, too.

“Picking up the trash in the waters or along the coastline is not enough. The overall objective is to
prevent the people of Metro Manila from destroying our ecology and to make Manila Bay a place where marine life can thrive,” Bobby stressed.

Despite a Supreme Court ruling some 27 years ago that Manila Bay should be cleaned up by the local government units, commercial establishments, and the private sector, the pollution in Manila Bay is even worse now!

Bob told us that Manila Water Services Inc. and Maynilad will be playing a pivotal role as they will be tasked to construct sewage treatment plants in the tributaries that carry the wastes from the various cities in Metro Manila to the bay. They have been remiss in this area, despite our payments to them every month, disguised as sewerage fees.

“These STPs will process the wastes and prevent the bad elements from entering Manila Bay by
processing the wastes. Maynilad will also be on hand to flush out the septic tanks of private residences and business establishments to prevent their wastes from flowing into the
tributaries,” he said.

The first important step in finally saving the bay happened from the veranda of the Yacht Club, when Sec. Cimatu came to visit one morning. He immediately ordered a closer inspection that same day, and the very next day he brought his technical teams to see where the untreated sewage waters were seeping to the bay. He and Bob boarded the yachts of the club and the Coast Guard around the bay. No, I missed that sail as I was still retching from the foul odor emanating from the nearby waters.

That day the first visual proofs were unfortunately the Manila Zoo and the Ospital ng Maynila. The cities that did not have proper STP were Manila, Pasay, and Pasig. Shame, shame! DILG Sec. Eduardo Ano, kayo na ho bahala sa mga mayors nila!

The Manila Zoo, which services all of Metro Manila and its environs, unfortunately has been ordered closed until further notice. I really hope that the zoo management and the city hall bring the facility up to par with environmental standards. That zoo is a place of recreation and, yes, information for many, many citizens especially those in the marginalized sectors. Unfortunately, it has been badly neglected. I used to bring my young children there when it was still clean.

Let’s make sure this campaign becomes a lifestyle of change not a “ningas cogon” show. This is
one area where President Duterte can gain even his jaded critics’ approval!

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