Down the drain
IT IS conceded – based on visitors’ feedback -- that Naga City is one of the few cities in the country whose streets are relatively clean and its garbage collection system fairly passable despite its burgeoning commerce and ballooning population (and the open dumpsite with its offensive smell at certain hours when sprays of deodorizers fail, which is a serious problem that everybody thinks needs to be resolved immediately). And it cannot be denied that among the key players in Naga’s little successes in local governance and delivery of services are the barangays and the residents themselves who have learned to become active participants in community development. But of course, much has yet to be done in order that we may finally achieve the higher goal of sustaining our city as a “maogmang lugar.” We do not pretend to create a paradise here on earth, but building a livable city should be everyone’s paramount concern by doing our part in ensuring a better and environmentally-sound future for the next generations to come. While we have noticed that the quality of water in Naga River may have somehow improved following the rehabilitation of the riverbanks where some amounts of desilting were also undertaken as a flood control component of the river restoration project, many of the creeks or smaller tributaries that naturally lead to the river are sadly left abandoned and neglected that at the soonest time will bring to naught the nobler intent of reviving the Naga River as a habitable body of water where fishes thrive and birds glide low to hunt. As early as now, every barangay in the city, through its local officials, should be called upon to take the extra mile of keeping the rivers and creeks in their respective territories clean and free from pollution and usurpation by illegal settlers. While on a prowl, our team here at Bicol Mail noticed that the creek almost facing the barangay hall in Tabuco appears stagnant, if not dead, because of the pile of wastes, mostly plastics, oil wastes and other non-biodegradable materials that apparently have been dumped there for years and there is no sign that someone else will clean it, or salvage the garbage, so that water may flow freely and give the creek a new lease of life. The Mangga creek near the Ojeda property in Dayangdang, whose little middle island had been lately cleared of squatters, has been seen dumped with plastic wastes and styrofoam throwaways, apparently coming from its southern end of the storm drainages constructed in Balatas and Magsaysay avenue, which means that residents along the route had been indiscriminately disposing their wastes into that river line. And has anybody seen how polluted the creek is that snakes through Bgys. Lerma and Tabuco and ALDP Commercial Center down the Bicol River facing Milaor town? The river that parallels Bgy. Del Rosario and runs along Concepcion Grande and Concepcion Pequena also needs to be taken care of because of the uncontrolled encroaching by illegal settlers who throw their waste down the waterway leading to the Naga River, with the plastic wastes suffocating the drainage system along the way. There are more creeks within the city’s 27 barangays, and all of them, together with the accumulated piles of plastic, toxic waste materials, and non-degradable garbage, discharge dirty water into the Naga River that we otherwise envisioned to be a living body of water, a source of rich marine life, an alternative route for transportation, and a barometer of our civic maturity, character and cultural heritage.