Foreigner goes viral for picking up trash at BGC, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves

“Clean as you go” – is an old reminder and an important mindset that every person needs to practice in their daily lives both at home and in public places. It’s a very basic act, and it speaks volumes about courtesy, respect, and care for the environment. But for the Philippines, this seems to fall on deaf ears.  

               Since when did we, as a people, start thinking that someone else will pick up after us? Perhaps this is a deeply ingrained habit, learned from home and schools as much as a societal construct. In fast food restaurants alone, there are staff members dedicated to cleaning up empty cups and food wrappers, as opposed to customers throwing them in the bin as practiced in other countries. In school and in the workplace, there are people who are designated to clean up spaces. Janitors or cleaning ladies surreptitiously tidy up while no one’s looking, whereas in school classrooms there are different groups of students tasked to clean every other day. We have been trained to think that we can leave trash anywhere, just because someone else will eventually put it inits proper place. We have been “spoiled” to say the least.

               So it comes as a surprise when a Facebook user, John Mendel Espina, posted online a photo of a foreigner he saw picking up trash at the BGC Forum. He stopped on his tracks to talk to the woman, whose name he later found out was Randi Emilie Dahlen from Bergen Hordaland in Norway. Espina, feeling embarrassed at the sight of a foreigner cleaning up his own country, apologized and asked why she was doing it. The woman answered simply, “Well, someone has to do an initiative, right”?

               The post sparked calls on social media for Filipinos to follow Dahlen’s example and be more mindful about keeping our surroundings clean.

               It’s a start, but do we really need a person from another country to remind us of cleanliness, a very basic value? We don’t hear our neighbors telling us to clean our homes, much less have them take care of our clutter.  We should all feel what Espina felt right at that moment when he saw the woman holding a plastic bag full of trash. Heck,even if the person wasn’t a foreigner, we should all feel bad for anyone who cleans up after our very own mess. If only we can educate ourselves, our kids, and everyone else, and start cultivating this “clean up as you go habit,” then we can not only have a clean environment but also a clean conscience.

Source: Facebook: John Mendel Espina

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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