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Thousands join Zambales coastal clean-up

IBA, Zambales—More than 13,000 volunteers showed up for the annual International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) along the coast of Zambales recently.
The coastal clean-up, organized by the Freeport’s Lighthouse Marina Resort, is part of the international coastal clean-up effort organized by The Ocean Conservancy to protect the world’s oceans from harmful debris that had made 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 ICC, explained.
Volunteers collected mostly 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, People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) and Junior Chamber International (formerly Philippine Jaycees) Olongapo joining as site captains, the total clean-up area increased from four 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 clean-up and artificial reef laying on the second day.
Some of the site captains woke up as early as 4 a.m. to ensure they are at the 10 designated sites before 6 a.m. 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 heart-warming 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 and Zambales.
“Aside from the debris, we need to control effluents and other harmful elements that are 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 Club of Subic Bay said. ● (PIA-3)

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