Kids join river clean-up drive, hope to see a cleaner Butuanon River

By Delta Dyrecka Letigio |February 22,2019 - 08:58 PM

Opao Elementary School pupils who joined the River Clean-up at the Butuanon River in Mandaue City on February 22, 2019. | Delta Dyrecka Letigio

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu, Philippines—Over 400 volunteers beat the sunrise on Friday morning, February 22, to participate in the clean-up drive at the Butuanon River in Mandaue City as part of the simultaneous river clean-up in 10 rivers in Central Visayas.

Among the 400 are six Opao Elementary School students and Supreme Student Government (SSG) officers who came to respond to the call of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) for volunteers.

Together with their adviser, Rosario Corona, the six students –  Mechaella Abatayo, 12, Elisha Villaceran, 11, Krisha Mae Olila, 12. Shanley Bregante, 11, David Rondina, 11, and Christian Luche, 13 –  carried with them sacks and gloves and began to work on the banks of the Butuanon River in Barangay Ibabao Estancia.

Rondina, a 12th grade pupil, said he was excited to join the river clean-up because he wanted to do his part in the cleaning of the Butuanon River, which covers a total of  23 kilometers from Cebu City to the Mactan Channel.

“Ganahan ko akong mga anak puhon makakita nga clean na ang Butuanon,” he told Cebu Daily News Digital.

Pupils pick up trash at the banks of the Butuanon River in Mandaue City on February 22, 2019. | Delta Dyrecka Letigio

The six pupils spent the morning on the riverbanks picking up trash and carefully placing them inside a sack, just as eager as the older volunteers around them.

The pupils admitted that they have never seen the Butuanon clean and only heard of its beauty and freshness from the older citizens of Mandaue.

Bregante, another 12th grader, understood the river will take time to rehabilitate and hoped that one day she can swim in it just like how the kids of the past did.

“Makakita man mig limpyo nga river sa province pero ganahan sad unta mi nga naay limpyo nga river dinhi aron makasulay ko mosawm pud dinhi,” she said.

Teacher Corona said that the she sacrificed her class time on Friday morning to accompany the 12th graders, who didn’t have classes today due to a school acitivity, because she saw the eagerness of the children to help.

“Kining mga bat-ana, ganahan ni sila makakita ba kung unsa kanindot ang Butuanon sauna. Luoy nga wala sila nakaabot sa kaniadto,” she said.

The Butuanon River was declared dead in 1992, more than a decade before the Opao pupils were born, following a boom in Metro Cebu’s population and industries.

In 1996, the Mandaue City Government created the Butuanon Management Board, which was tasked to oversee the health of the river and be responsible for creating policies to protect it.

In 2015, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) said that the river was 25 percent rehabilitated.

DENR-7 Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales said that the rehabilitation continues to this day and the local government unit have strengthened its policies to protect it river system.

Dialogues have constantly been conducted with the 62 business establishment releasing liquid wastes on the water and their liquid waste treatment is also being monitored.

For Gonzales, the Butuanon River is an example of how agencies can unite to rehabilitate a river that has been dead for more than two decades.

He commended the City of Mandaue for working hard in the past years to revive the river, but he said the work is far from over.

Gonzales said that apprehending violators can only do so much in the rehabilitation and people should take initiative to stop throwing garbage into the river.

“There is more to be done,” he said.

The Butuanon River remains a Type C river indicating that it is not fit for drinking or bathing and is far from its former glory.

As for 12-year-old Bregante, he hoped to one day see what the old folks of Mandaue have been reminiscing about — a Butuanon River in all its past prestine beauty.

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