November 21, 2012

Saving the Balili River: Can It Be Done?

The Balili River is a zombie. It's running dead. Due to human-caused pollution, nobody can squeeze any form of livelihood from it except probably the scavengers collecting bottles, cans and plastics along the river's banks. I'm a witness to this as I pass through the river in an almost daily basis. The river is POLLUTED. The question now is “Is there something that can be done about it?” Or better yet “Is there something you can do about it?”

If you ask me, I believe that getting the Balili River back to its condition pre-pollution is a long shot. A lost cause even. As long as there are people living around the river, it will continue to be polluted. No matter how many times you scoop out the wastes from the river, there will be more coming. Just think of the thousands of people living near and around the river. Where do their wastes go? The wash-offs from their bathrooms and kitchen sinks. The wash-offs from piggeries and poultry houses. Where do they go? They don't just vanish into thin air. All these wastes find their way towards the river. Furthermore, there's the waste coming from Baguio City to think of. Honestly, I do believe that majority of the pollution in the Balili River comes from Baguio City.

I'm not in any way suggesting that La Trinidad and Baguio residents pack up their bags and go live somewhere else for the sake of good ol' Balili River because that would be plain stupid. The point is as long as you and me exist in this part of the world, there will be pollution.

That said, all the efforts and projects being done to clean up the Balili River will only generate temporary results. Human-caused pollution is a disease that can only be slowed down but cannot be cured. The amount of garbage being thrown into the river can be significantly reduced but it can't be totally plugged. The dirty canals will just keep on flowing.

This is not to downplay or look down upon the efforts of various groups and individuals (government and non-government) in trying to revitalize the river. In fact, I've participated in several Balili River clean-up drives in the past. That's where I realized that the efforts are getting redundant. It's almost a total waste of time. At the end of the day, you look at what you did and pat yourself in the back for doing something for the river but in your mind, you know that you've just wasted your time because tomorrow, you will see more garbage in the spot that you have just cleaned up. Does this mean I will stop joining projects and activities aimed at cleaning up the messed-up river? Of course not. I will continue supporting them and joining them if I can. Doing something although you know that there'll be zero to little results is a better option than just sitting there and watching something that you care about just wither away. 

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