The Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig campaign brought reporters and bloggers on a walking tour of two of Manila’s rehabilitated esteros this week to drum up support for a charity run, and to show us how far along the perennial Pasig River clean up is.
Progress in Estero de San Miguel and Estero de Paco shows it can be done:
Compare that to a picture taken earlier this month:
The effect of clean esteros–which have to be cleaned first before rehabilitating the Pasig River–has been more than just aesthetic, although that is awesome enough:
Because the esteros are flowing more freely, the barangays along them were spared from floods that affected most of Metro Manila in August. Assuming an average cost of P3,500 per family for relocation during floods and house repairs after, the clean-up saved the area’s 1,770 households around P6.1 million a year, Lopez says.
Crime has gone down by 40 percent in seven of the 16 barangays along Estero de Paco, Lopez adds, noting that of 7,000 households living 20 meters from the esteros, 97 percent said they had “greater life satisfaction.”
What struck me most, though, was this mural painted under a bridge by the Estero de Paco head water:
The flowers and vegetable gardens that line the esteros look great, but this is something that fewer people will see, especially during the rainy season when the water in the esteros rises. The bamboo and tarsiers, I feel, are meant more for the residents than for funders and tourists. And that’s what makes this mural special.
During the tour, vounteers on boats–they’re called River Warriors–were patrolling the esteros for trash, scooping them up for proper disposal. People were also outside their homes and on their best behavior.
While there, we saw a snatcher being chased by a man armed with a plank of wood with a nail at one end. But even that was followed by apologies from residents, probably for breaking the illusion that the place had been transformed into a model community.
The mural under the bridge, though, was just there whether or not anyone was looking.