The Looking Glass

March 05, 2019

A mirror shows you what you look like, it has a way of showing us our flaws. However, sometimes we only intend to see what we want to see. Sometimes, our reflection focuses only on ourselves but not the bigger picture that we belong into.

The Manila Bay reclamation has been an improvement in the past years, something finally happened. Posts and news have been very evident of their positive reviews about the cleaning project that has been done in the bay. Every scroll in social media has a user sharing how happy and proud for the efforts that managed to rid Manila Bay of its garbage and other things. We saw it, we liked it, and we praised it.

But the bigger picture still remains, we now have a body of water that is on the way to being cleaned but we have many more things to clean, like the Pasig River, the river that feeds through big urban cities with its people that have little to no regard of discipline in terms of ridding their wastes and garbage properly.

Obviously the whole scale of Pasig River is bigger than that of the Manila Bay, but Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) has been established since 1999 and we are still far from improving. On our third year for our Investigative Journalism final output we were assigned to do an investigative project on the Pasig River. Our steps have taken us to PRRC and their efforts in rehabilitating the said river.

Its deterioration has continued since the advent of urbanization. The restoration become more and more difficult as pollution and garbage were thrown in the water, but the PRRC have been relentless in their effort to bring back the river in its natural glory. But the glory it was will never come to life without the discipline of the people around it. I kept asking and asking the PRRC representative on why did they not start on cleaning the main body of the river, and she kept on answering that the tributaries were the main source of the pollution that is feeding through the main body.

People’s attention is now concentrated in the new face of Manila Bay, all of them seems to bask in its glory but some of them despite being accosted by the police have continued to stay in its shores and somehow forgot to throw their trash in the right garbage cans. All of us have been very proud of once again seeing the sunset in the bay, but we are blinded by it not seeing the bigger picture. Discipline in taking care of the Manila Bay should also be seen in the people who live near the tributaries of our Pasig river, we keep on complaining, blaming everyone who we can blame for the problems we have cause.

Pasig River were once the center of trade and industry before, the river we have now today would not be cleaned unless all the governing mayors and their people who are near the main body of the river and its tributaries come to their senses. Imagine the happiness and relief it would bring if the Pasig River is completely operational not only with trade and industry but as another form of transportation (it snakes through major cities around Manila for people’s sake).

The effort that PRRC makes made them seem to be the only one who takes care of the river when it should’ve been a unified force off all the people and make it their advocacy to have once again a functioning river full of opportunities in trade, industry, and transportation.

The Manila bay now shines through the looking glass, people only see the orange glow as the sun sets in the horizon refusing to give light to the other bodies of water that are in great need of rehabilitation. We only see what we intend to see.

“How many more years?” was the last subhead of our investigative project, the transformation of the Pasig River could be beneficial for all. It has long been a dead river, if we just cooperate to the projects of PRRC and other institutions, if we just turn our heads and look at the things that surround us, and then maybe we could witness it returning to its natural glory. Think of the bigger picture.

(First published on The LANCE's Jan-Feb 2019 Issue)