THERE’S this chika that no matter how meticulous we are with waste segregation, they will still all end up in the same pile at the dumpsite.
What greeted us upon arriving home on April 9 Palm Sunday after 11 days of travel was this letter from the homeowners’ association on “Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Proper Segregation of Solid Waste.” It said they “will be strictly implementing the segregation of solid wastes at source or at every household of our community.”
In the second paragraph, it said, “effective April 10, 2017…” And my minute brain went, Wait, that’s tomorrow?
We need a vacation after the vacation. Well, it wasn’t exactly a vacation while working in between the walking and standing at the concert and traveling. So, to read a letter on waste segregation a day before its implementation was like, Whaaaaat?!
The letter continued: “each and every household or business establishment of [name of village] should follow the established segregation of wastes by maintaining three (3) garbage bins as follows: Bin #1 – Green – ” And there were details on what will be inside that green bin and two other bins, Bin No. 2 Yellow and Bin No. 3 Red.
Whenever I see a number in words and figures—i.e., three (3)—that means serious business: Better obey or else.
Okay. Buy three containers, one of each color, at a store near Cogon Market. If you’re a Cagayanon, you know where that store is.
But it was only two days later when we were at SM that we—sis, bro, sis-in-law—had this long discussion on garbage bins. Bro suggested splashing the appropriate colors on black bins. And, apparently, Ace Hardware was almost running out of the cheap ones, thus, the urgency to buy, now na. Before or after dinner? But an empty tummy couldn’t decide, so, after dinner then, with the wish the cheap ones would still be there.
It has been ten days since then, and each time I’m about to throw garbage, I have to decide if it’s “malata (biodegradable), mapuslan pa (recyclable), dili malata ug dili na mapuslan (residual), or delikado o makahilo (special waste),” and what bin will it be. Because, o my gas, have you seen the penalties? As much as “Php500 thousand + 5% to 10% of net annual income”! Plus community service or imprisonment. See? Serious business.
Waste segregation has been imposed for many years now in other parts of the world. So, for this to be seriously implemented in Cagayan de Oro this month inspires us to heave a deep sigh of relief. Another source of the deep sigh is the city’s decision to finally transfer the dumpsite to a land far, far away. Well, still within city limits but far away from the madding crowd. This should make the old dumpsite’s neighboring barangays happy. But the response from its scavengers has not been happy at all. Where do they go from there? The old dumpsite may have exposed them to diseases and air pollution, but every human being does need the basics—food, clothing, shelter—which garbage can provide.
Yes, there’s money in garbage, as long as you know how to segregate. The scavengers, who inherited their expertise from ancestors and handed this knowledge down to their future generations, have learned how to segregate and to earn from recycling. That should be one lesson for us to learn, too.
If you’ve been saving plastic and glass bottles, newspapers, and clothes you’ve outgrown or out-“fatted,” and selling these to recyclers for years now, then you already have an idea on what RA 9003 is aiming for.
Reading details of a republic act can be daunting. I’m not sure if RA 9003 also has its share of whereby and thereby. Like those numbers in words and figures—three (3)—a law can be too formal for my minute brain. I don’t even know how to write a formal letter. The colorful flyers on “Limpyo nga Syudad Atong Responsibilidad” have made RA 9003 sound simple, and they include these: “No Segregation, No Collection starting on 16 April 2016.”
2016? Last year? Hmmm. Talk of delayed reaction. Unless it’s a typo.