Wala ka bang napapansin sa iyong mga kapaligiran? (Asin — “Kapaligiran”)
I learned this song when I was in first grade. I think I was six years old. This song wasn’t just a song. It was a symbol of hope for a child like me that regularly passed by the Pasig River. Smelling its foul odor. Seeing floating garbage with the water lilies on its dark brown surface. A child that heard stories from his grandmother of how clear the water was. How they’d drink the water. How they used to catch fish. I get both sad and envious thinking about it now. I was a child that was taught to memorize and practice the 4Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Return, which I forgot after I graduated. A child that was hoping that through this song everything will change for the better. But it didn’t.
Fast forward to 2015 and here we are. I’m now 25 years old and I’m reading an article that the biggest reclamation project in Cordova, an island municipality in the province of Cebu, is now approved.
I get that developed countries like Hong Kong, China and Japan have reclaimed lands as well, and locally, the land where the likes of SM Mall of Asia and Solaire were built has been a key to a lot of successful investment opportunities. However, I’m just wondering: When are we going to stop?
The Philippines is an archipelago, a group of islands. Converting a yamang tubig to a yamang lupa (no matter how useless this body of water is) is like playing God. Okay, for the non-religious: It’s altering nature’s balance. Somehow, somewhere, someday, it will have an effect on us. We may not know it now, we may not feel it now, but our sons and daughters of the next generations will.
Sustainability is the key for us to survive. It is not about which country has the highest GDP or currency rate. It is not about who has the most number of H&M stores or eat-all-you can restaurants. Nobody cares how many malls a country has. It is not about who can afford to go to a luxurious island for a “yaya meal” (yes, I’m talking about that island resort *evil stare*). In the long run, it is about how we maintained our natural resources for this generation and the generations to come.
I read an old article this morning that some people are still swimming in Manila Bay despite government warnings. Are these people really at fault or are they, in a distorted kind of way, a symbol of hope? The natural thing to do when people see water is to drink and bathe in it. We can call them stupid or reckless for swimming in polluted waters but they do remind us that Manila Bay and other dead bodies of water and land are still alive. There is still hope for restoration. If Singapore and Korea have successfully done it, why can’t we? To this day, in spite of the growing number of natural disasters, the government still has no efforts in place to protect the environment.
We just need to do it now. Not tomorrow and not next year but now.
When will we start caring? Is all the money in the world worth it? When will stop destroying and start creating?
When will we stop?