Unsightly litter that Manny hated PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 14:04

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Regina, Sask, Ca. — For all the good that he was — an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation, deadly with his .38 cal. revolver, a prosecutor, a Paul Harris fellow, Rotary district governor, a devout catholic — Manny Tatel hated unsightly litter, call it trash that springs up everyday, every second no matter the number of street-sweepers employed.

Manny was “The Broom”. He tapped the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts every summertime and armed them with “scoba” and went from barangay to barangay to sweep the sidewalks and pick up rubbish littered by unconscionable individuals, most of them not from the city that once prided with bougainvilleas, sampaguitas and ilang-ilang and different orchid species and roses. During the time of the Great Cesar, the city had only three street-sweepers, all casuals, because they did not have the eligibility to qualify for a permanent job.

At nine o’clock in the morning as I made my way to City Hall for my daily grind with Hizzoner, one of them challenged me to go on radio to denounce the litterbugs and get people talking about cleanliness and sanitation. He seemed frustrated as cleaning the streets was an impossibility. Well, that was Max Enriquez’s job. He was “The Voice.”

Manny couldn’t stand dirt. He constantly reminded the locals (Manny hailed from Bicol), the migrants from north and south unfamiliar with local anti-littering laws not to throw (or spit and urinate) anywhere they pleased. He preached that if everybody colluded to keep our city streets and sidewalks clean of wrappers, cigarette butts, plastics and napkins, one person’s efforts multiplied by thousands can bring change.

To that, the Zamboanga Press Club in 1984 responded by donating 50 empty gasoline drums to the city government that it collected as a civic donation from the Naval Forces Southern Philippines. The drums would have served as garbage bins to be strategically placed along Guardia Nacional, Tomas Claudio, P. Brilliantes, La Purisima and other corners in the commercial district. To our dismay, a week after the trash cans were laid out, they all disappeared. Madre de Dios!

Every year, civic and service clubs do litter clean-ups of our city streets and beaches. The government, however, spends an insignificant amount, although the civic-minded and environmentalists always complain that efforts and more money should be invested into cleanliness.

That’s not enough. People should be motivated not to litter. Don’t tolerate it from anybody. Then think of the principle that everywhere we go, we should leave things cleaner than we found them. It’s about showing pride of DEAR ZAMBOANGA. People who respect and value where they live shouldn’t despoil it. If we love Zamboanga, let’s prevent people from throwing garbage.

The city’s general services office should set up signs, like in Singapore, of DO NOT LITTER and provide trash receptacles everywhere needed. When in the downtown area, count how many containers or trash bins there are 20 feet apart. NONE. When setting up his first theme park, Walt Disney discovered that 30 paces was the distance people would walk before looking for somewhere to throw their trash if a receptacle wasn’t available. Disney made that discovery in the 1950s, years before the advent of mineral water, Starbucks disposable coffee cups and Jollibee wrappers.

Everyday, we talk about how DIRTY our city is. We curse the mindless for doing this, yet we never bother to look into ourselves. What societal standards have we enforced on them? Talking is easy. When shall we be prepared to actually do something about it?