As the launch was now cruising on the livid blue-green waters of Cebu Harbor, I noticed swarms of marine birds, unusual in number, dived and skimmed on the water’s surface. They happened to peck and pick on the flotsam and jetsam that the floodwaters of the Lahug Creek disgorged, whose river mouth is now but a square hole underneath the asphalt-and-concrete berthing area.
As far as the eye could see, discarded pieces of plastic in huge volumes and other kinds of household debris and industrial wastes were floating and bobbing on the surface, scattered over the whole width and length and depth of the channel. It was brownish and dirty and fast approaching the dirty notoriety of murky Manila Bay.
The harbor waters wasn’t THAT dirty 30-35 years ago. I remembered in my pre-adolescent years when the city’s waterfront area was my favorite playing ground and hang-out. I learned (or was forced) to swim there after being pushed intentionally and I swam like a dog. Back then, whenever my time would warrant I would take a dip there. Sometimes, as a sport, we would dive from a departing boat and swim back to the pier and the one who left the boat when it is farthest from the shore was declared the winner!
Marine life were abundant back then. Jellyfish would parade like an army of strange aliens. Squid or cuttlefish would appear in droves when no moon appeared in the night sky and find refuge under the glare of lights of berthed ships. All kinds of fishes could be angled from its depths as well as crustaceans caught inside cagetraps from beneath.
Seashells could be had by the mere picking during low tide by swimming towards the exposed reefs, sandbars and rocky beds nearby Pilipog (Shell) island which is a half-kilometer away from the Aduana*.
Today’s condition of the sea is a far cry from that sea of long ago where I used to swim.
As the launch moved on in the middle of Mactan Channel we passed by Mandaue City. The Subangdaku River let out the same kind of debris and wastes, marked by swarms of marine birds, and they took on a pattern as if it were parading in a straight and wavy line going south. Farther north, it was the same discouraging look as the Butuanon River and other northern rivers aped the previous two.
I have done my share by watching the part of the Lahug Creek where I am living and discouraged my household and my neighbors from disposing their garbage on the waterway for it would surely wind its way to the sea. It has been my advocacy for many years now and, I know, it is not enough. It would take a whole mass of people with the same mindset as I have to reverse this trend.
People living upriver and below mine find it convenient to throw their wastes directly on the creek. My heart ached when I see whole canvass sheets, garbage wrapped inside plastic shopping bags, discarded rubber tires and islands of styropor stuck on the river bed impeding the flow of water and it will take a great downpour to erase that stigma. Which the harbor waters graciously receive into its depths that, I know, is a never-ending vicious cycle imposed by man on his environment.
After witnessing the condition of the Mactan Channel after a heavy downpour did it occur to me to involve myself more by writing this story on my blog and disseminate this information into as many people as possible thru the Internet. I would broaden my advocacy on the World Wide Web.
I surmised, that modern science and technology have made plastic and other synthetic material more harmful to man than good in an indirect manner. Especially, if they happen to be used by some people living in Metro Cebu.
Then you add the government bureaucracies that line the shores of this narrow channel who don’t give a damn about its environs and content themselves passing some toothless garbage ordinances that nobody wanted to enforce! Lack of foresight, laxity, ignorance, carelessness and a “don’t care” attitude make up for disastrous elements that may cloud the future of our children.
If I may have my way I would opt to ban plastic and other synthetic materials and those goods contained therein for it doesn’t do no good if they happen to be in the hands of those mindless zombies. For the future of our generation, I say, we BAN THOSE PLASTIC AND SYNTHETIC MATERIALS!