What We Do

Components for Saving the Las Piñas-Zapote River

Engineering Solutions

Fielding of Dredgers and Dump Trucks Accumulated garbage reduced the holding capacity of the Las Piñas-Zapote Rivers to absorb rainfall, thus causing its tributaries to overflow into the residential areas. Even a small amount of rainfall used to cause flooding in many parts of Las Piñas. The first logical solution then was to increase the depth of the river. 

Dredging the river requires heavy equipment. Through the donations of Senator Manny Villar, Sagip Ilog is currently able to mobilize three backhoes-on-barges for the main river, two small backhoes for diversion creeks, three speedboats, three tugboats, two rubber boats with motors, and four dump trucks. 

The initial dredging operations uncovered plastic bags, plastic bottles, soda cans, and other non-biodegradable materials that had been stacked up one overthe other through the years. The dredging operation accelerated the outflow of the water, greatly reducing the backflow and the incidence of flooding. 

Installing Floating Waste Strainers

To make the clearing more efficient, five waste strainers were constructed to intercept floating debris at specific junctions in the river. The river strainers intercept floating garbage before they sink and form part of the bottom trash. 

The garbage that are intercepted are scooped out daily by the men posted on the intercepts. The intercepts are designed to allow the cleaners to walk across the entire span of the strainer and scoop out the floating garbage. This is a cost-effective measure because getting the trash at the bottom required the use of heavy machinery which were expensive to operate. It is likewise more efficient to collect the garbage at specific points of the river rather than trying to chase it downstream.

Social Mobilization

Transforming Mind-sets, Habits and Cultural Traits

With the gains from the engineering solutions, the Sagip Ilog team had to face a bigger challenge: changing the attitude and habits of the residents.

It seemed foolish to be pulling out garbage from the river if people constantly threw garbage in. Cleaning the river on a long haul basis required more than the availability of equipment, it needs the involvement and active participation of the people.

An education program was launched to explain to the residents a simple input-output model: if people dump less in the river, there would be less to clean. Experience, however, proved that this was easier said than done. 

Providing the people basic knowledge about improper waste disposal needed to go hand-in-hand with a change in their attitude towards the importance of caring for the rivers and their surroundings. This necessitated community organizing. Seeing the seriousness of the Sagip Ilog team’s effort, several civic organizations volunteered to assist in the education of the people and in community organizing.

One of the partners were the volunteers from the Couples for Christ-OIKOS who shared their time and effort in generating awareness, interest and participation in the Sagip Ilog Program. 

In August 2004, seven couples from the CFC-OIKOS committed to conduct values formation and solid waste management education to the people living along and near the riverbanks. For more than five years, they went to the communities in these areas ensuring that after the initial learning sessions were completed, the necessary further encouragement and constant reminders were given to minimize any backsliding of the residents to their old ways of wanton waste dumping.

Another organization that partnered with the office of Congresswoman Villar in its endeavor to save the Las Piñas-Zapote Rivers is the Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines, Inc. (ZWRMPF, Inc.). ZWRMPF, Inc. educates people about zero waste management (ZWM), which is now embodied in Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001. Signed into law on January 26, 2001, RA 9003 sets guidelines and targets for solid waste avoidance and volume reduction through source reduction and waste minimization measures, including composting, recycling, re-use, recovery, and green charcoal process before collection, treatment, and disposal in appropriate and environmentally sound solid waste management facilities. The law mandates local government units (LGUs) to set up an ecology center in every barangay and segregation of wastes. It further specifically prohibits open burning and open dumpsites.

By conducting Zero Waste Management Training for the city government employees, barangay leaders, public school faculty members and administrators, and the residents, the technology became more widespread.