We need to rehabilitate our attitudes, not our waters

After the temporary closure and cleanup of Boracay, the usual problems have come up on its shores once again.

In a letter of complaint sent by residents and business owners to Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), the group called for tighter implementation of regulations on the island.

“It was a painful experience for us who live and work here, especially [since] many of us were compliant and fighting for Boracay’s environment prior to the government-mandated closure … We write you in [the] hope that all of the sacrifices made in the name of Boracay, that your work and effort during closure will not have been in vain,” the group’s letter read in part and reported by Inquirer.net.

This was written in response to the presence of cruise ships that drop anchor off Boracay and bring thousands of tourists to the island for just a few hours. This plus the illegal vendors, tourists throwing garbage everywhere, and lack of resources to maintain the cleanliness of the island contribute to the bigger picture that threatens the welfare of Boracay.

Project rehabilitation

After Boracay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is planning to restore Manila Bay to its “pristine” state, using the government’s strategy when it rehabilitated the tourist hot spot (Rappler).

Manila Bay is known for its beautiful view of sunset, but it is also notorious for its garbage infested and toxic polluted waters, 90% of which, according to DENR Calabarzon Executive Director Ipat Luna comes from domestic waste.

Environmental group Greenpeace has ranked the Philippines as the “third-worst polluter into the world’s oceans” after China and Indonesia in a report released last September 2017 (PhilStar).

The real problem

The efforts and plans of the government to rehabilitate the country’s waters will continue to be in vain if the people won’t do their part. Several reasons may have caused these places to reach their dire state, but this could simply be attributed to the public’s lack of discipline. This mentality of “someone else can clean up after me” has been deeply ingrained in us in our homes, schools, and workplaces, that we bring it everywhere we go.

Photos of Luneta post Christmas celebrations show proof of how people couldn’t care any less about the environment or the street cleaners that get paid unjust wages. Used plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic cups and other pieces of trash were strewn everywhere, making the park look more like a landfill than a national landmark.

Crescencio Doma Jr., an Abu Dhabi-based hospital administrative assistant and sociologist from the University of Santo Tomas, has reasonable explanations. In “The roots of Filipino indiscipline”, published on The Manila Bulletin, the roots of this undesirable behaviour were traced from a larger socio-political context.

“Impatience is basically a reaction to a dysfunction in a given [social] system. People become impatient only when their needs are not satisfied at a given time. At the same time, it can be traced to the absence of clear policies and implementing rules that would ensure a positive response from people towards law,” Doma explained.

In other words, even though lack of discipline is an individual action, there are also environmental stimuli that fuel this conduct. In poverty-stricken areas, for instance, waste segregation and collection systems are not always in place, thus, litters everywhere. (Filipinotimes.net)

It’s a two-way street. Filipinos need to be more conscious of their behavior while at the same time, the government should address the needs of its people. As Filipinos and leaders, we need rehabilitate our values and not just our waters. Only then will real change happen.

Photos from PhilStar, News 5

About Dianne Pineda 394 Articles
Magazine and online writer based in South Korea. Nerdy news writer by day, Korean pop culture writer by night.

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