SUBIC BAY Freeport: More than 13,000 volunteers showed up for the annual International Coastal Cleanup that took place in 10 sites along the entire coast of Zambales last weekend.
The coastal clean up, organized by the Lighthouse Marina Resort is part of the international coastal cleanup effort organized by The Ocean Conservancy to protect the world’s oceans from harmful debris making its way to coastlines from local beaches, waterways, and inland areas.
“We started four years ago with around 600 volunteers cleaning up mainly the boardwalk area. Now, the movement expanded to include the entire Zambales coast, including a pilot area for the inland clean up in Barangay Mabayuan, Olongapo City,” Jun Avecilla, Zone Coordinator of the Interntational Coastal Cleanup (ICC) explained.
Most of the garbage collected by the volunteers was plastic bags and containers, cigarette butts, sanitary napkins, diapers, and even old tires.
“All these garbage and debris along the coastlines do not fall from the sky, they fall from human hands. They come from the communities such as ours and this is why it’s important to bring the activity to the barangays,” Robert Ferrer, chairman of Brgy. Mabayuan, said.
With all the Rotary Clubs of Olongapo City, Zambales, PMAP and JCI Olongapo joining as site captains, the total cleanup area increased from 4 kilometers to more than 30 kilometers of coastline and inland waterways.
Metro Pacific Investment Corporation’s (MPIC) Shore it up! also expanded the event to two days, bringing in more than 120 divers for an offshore cleanup and artificial reef laying on the second day.
Some of the site captains woke up as early as 4am to ensure they are at the sites before 6am to receive the thousands of volunteers who came.
“We were swamped by volunteers who needed data cards and cleaning implements,” said Mariel Flores, president of the Rotary Club of Downtown Olongapo, adding “it was at the same time heartwarming to see them here doing their share for the environment.”
Organizers say that this activity is a kick off to a bigger effort to preserve and enhance the waters of Subic Bay.
“Aside from the debris, we need to control effluents and other harmful elements that is slowly building up from residential communities and other economic activities,” Avecilla explained.
Subic Bay hosted the biggest American naval facility outside the mainland United States for almost a century and was transformed into Freeport zone in the early 1990′s.
“The same economic might put to bear to preserve the quality of the waters within the bay. After all, this is the single biggest and most important resource that we all share,” the ICC zone coordinator stressed.
The program, he added, aims to identify the pollutants and it’s sources, determine a base line and from there plan and implement measures to control, if not, totally stop its entry into the bay.
“This effort requires the action of a consortium of individuals, groups, companies, and government agencies. The overwhelming response to the clean up show that we, as a community, are one step ahead into realizing this program,” John Bayarong, president of the Rotary Cub of Subic Bay said.