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Youth lead way in coastal cleanup

Youth lead way in coastal cleanup
Volunteers clear bird sanctuary area in Las Piñas-Parañaque border
By Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
10:07 pm | Friday, September 9th, 2011

High school senior Jasper Ugali doesn’t mind if he picks up trash thrown away by others.

“The garbage is not from my household or backyard, but that’s all right. It’s part of contributing to community efforts in protecting the environment in my own small way,” said the teenager, a corps commander of Las Pinas East High School.

Ugali was one of 300 volunteers composed of high school and college students, and residents from five Las Piñas barangays, who trooped to the bird sanctuary along the Coastal Road along the Las Piñas City and Parañaque City boundary to clear a portion of the coast of garbage as part of a series of activities scheduled to mark International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 17.

The coastal clearing was done ahead of the event to create awareness in preserving coastal areas among stakeholders in the community, according to Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar whose congressional office staff initiated the campaign.

“We hope that this effort will encourage everyone to participate in the celebration. Preserving our coastal areas is a continuing and life-long effort that requires the commitment of all possible sectors,” he said.

During the three-hour cleanup, the volunteers managed to fill up three trucks of debris, including nonbiodegradable materials like plastic bags and rubber tires.

Trash lining the coasts around the sanctuary, officially named the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, has become a common sight as strong currents carry the debris from waterways leading to Manila Bay, said Rey Aguinaldo, the area’s program manager.

Aguinaldo said he was thankful that the residents took the time to clean the area which is under the jurisdiction of the two city governments.

Villar also encouraged the private sector to pool their resources to help sustain the sanctuary which had been declared a protected area by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The natural reserve, where mangroves and plant species thrive despite its proximity to urban blight, serves as a halfway house for migratory birds flying in from as far as Siberia once winter sets in, Aguinaldo said.

Some birds find the sanctuary inviting that they drop their usual flight pattern and settle there, he added.