Some people just can’t have nice things. It hasn’t been a week since photos of a cleaner, more inhabitable Manila Bay went viral as a result of a massive cleanup drive—when students were caught throwing cigarette butts and food wrappers around the area. The government commenced the rehabilitation project with the same system as Boracay, the popular beach tourist spot that was temporarily closed to improve the waters and surroundings.
The degradation of Manila Bay
The once center of tourism in the Philippine capital was glorious in its heydays as a harbour which serves the Port of Manila, where trade between the country and its neighbors were facilitated.
Continued industrialization, ballooning population, lack of government protection and resources—and ultimately, lack of discipline among Filipinos all contributed to the Bay’s decline and water deterioration. Several establishments also break environmental laws and continue to dump toxic waste. The rehabilitation of the bay was set after President Rodrigo Duterte warned businesses in the vicinity to comply with environment regulations or face closure.
Improvements were seen during the past week, as visitors took photos and noted how different it was when placed side by side with photos taken before the cleanup.
Back to old habits
But we can’t celebrate just yet, as old habits seem to die hard. One netizen took her concern to social media as she personally saw some students throwing trash around the Bay.
According to the post which has now been taken down, some students, who were allegedly from a school nearby, smoked cigarettes and ate snacks and eventually threw them everywhere. Some even tried to bury the debris under the sand to hide them.
After seeing this, the netizen asked them to pick up the trash. “So ayun pinadampot ko kay kuya yung kinalat niya; kailangan papahiyain mo pa talaga?! Tas magtatawanan pa sila na kala mo kinacool nila yun??” she wrote. [I asked them the guy to pick up the trash. Do I need to embarrass them? Then they kept laughing as if it will make them cool.]
Insert face palm emoji here. These students wasted the efforts of volunteers who toiled all weekend instead of resting just to help clean up their mess. There have been many cleanup projects before but only now has it gained this much traction and visible improvements. However, if we return to the vicious cycle that led to the dismal state of the Bay, what would become of us as a nation? What would become of our natural resources if we keep thinking that other people will clean them up for us? How long will this image of a “clean” Manila Bay last? We could only hope that this new and improved Manila Bay will not be a bandaid solution and everyone concerned—the government, citizens, business establishments—will care for and maintain Manila Bay’s new face in the long term.