• Young foreign nationals continue clean-up drive in brgy Apas

    For the past five months, a mixed group of young volunteers led by a Japanese has been doing clean-up drives near the Cebu I.T Park in barangay Apas, Cebu City.

    Since the quarantine was declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group picks up garbage and other kinds of trash from the canals and the sidewalks in the vicinity where they live.

    Donning face masks and gloves, the group is composed of Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese nationals in their 20s.

    In the early morning of Aug. 29, Saturday, while I was walking towards I.T. Park, I saw these young people again picking up the trash. On my way back by midmorning, they were still there still picking up trash and with several garbage bags at bay. The garbage bags were loaded to a bicycle with a side cargo unit and brought to another area further ahead where it would be easier for the garbage truck to pick up these bags.

    These volunteers have previously been featured in TV, in social media and online newspapers.

    Curious, I approached them and started a conversation. (I guess, you can’t get out the journalist in me.)

    And so they told me that they are residents of the barangay. They are a mixed group of Japanese, Vietnamese and Filipino nationals and of different professions either working at the Cebu I.T. Park, the BPO hub in Cebu, or at the Cebu Business Park .These young people have been voluntarily picking trash for the past five months and the group has been gradually attracting other youths. So every Saturday morning, different young people volunteer.

    Michael Syoma, a Japanese national who has his own business, spearheaded the volunteer effort saying he lives in the barangay and that he loves the place.

    He also said he loves Cebu. “I have been a resident here. I love this place. This is my way of showing respect to the place,” he said referring to the clean-up drive.

    Syoma said there were a few of them who started the clean-up drive every weekend. Gradually, it attracted more volunteers. Every week, there are different volunteers, mostly young people who show up during the clean up drives. He said he lost count of people who volunteer.

    According to the Solid Waste Management Profile of Cebu City, the city “produces about 500 tonnes of MSW per day or a total of 182, 500 tonnes per year. Due to the rapid urban and economic growth in the city, the daily MSW generation has increased almost double from 212 tonnes in 1982 to 500 tonnes in 2010.”

    It added, “ While there is no exact data on actual per capita waste generation in the city, it was estimated that each of the Cebu City resident generates about 500 grams of MSW daily.”

    With the frequent rains and typhoons upon us, flash floods normally occur. Volumes of plastics, plastic bottles and other garbage are often scooped out of canals and other waterways and these have been one of the main causes of flashfloods.

    The trash that these young volunteers pick up every week in their vicinity may just be a teeny-weeny fraction of the volume of garbage generated by Cebu City.

    However if this voluntary act is replicated a thousand times over in Cebu City and sustained by communities, this would perhaps help lessen the occurrences of flash floods.

    More than the regular clean-up drives, a conscious effort by people to properly dispose of wastes and other garbage would be most helpful in helping prevent flash floods especially in Cebu City. (Thea C. Riñen)
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