Greenpeace Southeast Asia

World Environment Day: Bearing Witness Trip- Angat Watershed by dalisayliwanag

From Solar Generation – Pilipinas

Where does water come from?  A question that has been asked of me unexpectedly in one of the meetings I’ve attended for a cause.  I was taken aback for it was actually the first time that I heard someone asked that kind of question.  I then began formulated uncertain answers such as “from the faucet?” or “from the purified water station near our apartment?” or rather “from the sea?”  Could be, right?  And from that moment on, I keep on asking myself, “where does water really come from?”  This is the question that all of us ought to know the answer.

We all know that one of the basic needs of human for survival is water.  We are all dependent on water, from washing of our clothes and dishes, taking a bath, cooking, and the like.  But the most important role of water in our lives is by serving as the fuel for us to live.  Without water our life is at stake, our life would be in danger.  Having this concern for humankind, Greenpeace and its Youth Solar Generation Pilipinas focused on the parched Angat Watershed which is the main source of water in Metro Manila.

Greenpeace and its Youth Solar Generation Pilipinas Team, in commemoration of the World Environment Day, organized an event to witness the current situation of Angat Watershed that has dried up due to El Niño phenomenon that has wallop the country for months.  The team left around 6:30 in the morning for Angat Watershed which is an hour and a half away from Metro Manila.  Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by the National Power-Angat Watershed Area Team or also known as the AWAT and they led us to the conference area wherein they feed us with information about the current situation of the dam.  Mendel S. Garcia, Chief, Angat Watershed Area Team, gave us a talk on managing the dam reservation.  The first thing to do in protecting our source of water is to implement stricter laws in the forest that surrounds the dam.  And I believe not just forest that surrounds the dam but for our remaining forest that has been the victim of illegal loggers.  We must be aware that it is important to preserve the forest for it serves as the habitat of species that most are already endangered.  Aside from implementing of laws, he also mentioned reforestation and agro forestry, tree planting, lobbying and provision of livelihood in protecting the reservoir.  In addition, Francis Dela Cruz, Greenpeace Public Outreach Campaigner, also gave a talk on the origin and the significant of the World Environment Day.  He emphasized that it is a must for us to take good care of the planet.  “Planet Earth doesn’t have planet B,” he reiterated.  He also encouraged campaigners and individuals to realize the importance of water before it’s too late.  “Stop polluting our existing water resources,” Dela Cruz said.  Based on the research, human beings don’t really care on their usage of water.  According to the statistics 2.2 centimeters of water in the dam recedes everyday, 120 liters are used by humans and 30 liters are wasted from leaks.  This goes to show that we are not that thrifty enough in the use of our water resources.

After the talk, AWAT took as to some focal points of the watershed for us to see for ourselves the current situation of the dam that provides water for Metro Manila.  It is so overwhelming to have been there but on the contrary, it is frustrating to see that the water from the dam is continuously receding and we are doing nothing to prevent it.  If this phenomenon continuous, there wouldn’t be enough water to satisfy all our needs in the coming years.  That is why being aware and being conscious of what is happening in our environment is very crucial.

The Youth of Solar Generation Pilipinas has much to say on what they have observed during the bearing witness Trip.  Jeffrey Wintson Lazaro, SG Pilipinas member, was alarmed by what he saw.  “It is an eye opener for us that we really must conserve water.  Coming from Bacolod City with abundant water resources and without experiencing this kind of water problem and shortages, I was so surprised to see the very little amount of water left knowing that it provides water for Metro Manila,” Lazaro said.

Aside from Greenpeace Supporters and Solar Generation members, some members of PETA also showed their support in commemorating the World Environment Day.  Patrizsa Lugartos, PETA member, has shown her concern by pledging for Greenpeace that she must conserve and use water wisely.  For her, it is her way to help all those who benefit the water from the dam.  As a Solar Generation member, I really find it depressing to see the dam being emptied due to our lack of concern not just for the water but for the planet as a whole. This only shows that we, as a stewards of this planet, don’t care that much.  But on the other hand, it is heartwarming to know that aside from me, having this concern for the world, there are also people who have the heart in voicing out their concern for the planet.  Buhawi “Buwi” Meneses, Bass Guitarist of Parokya Ni Edgar and Franco, also participated and he was also surprised of what has become of the popular Angat Watershed.  It was actually his birthday last June 4 and according to him, he considered the invitation to witness the watershed as a gift to himself before doing other personal matters.  As a resident of Metro Manila, he’s as well worried of what might have become if this thing continuous.  With him and the rest of the Greenpeace supporters and Youth of Solar Generation Pilipinas witnessed the alarming watershed.  If only the people of this planet work hand in hand, then the solution to the problem would be taken into action.

At this point, I realized that knowing the answer from the question “where did our water come from?” is merely significant.  If we know where, then it would be much easier for us to discern our actions in being stewards of this planet.  Let us act now before it’s too late.  We must remember, the clock keeps on ticking, and we can never go back once it stops.  Save water, save our planet.

Yhurri Mahinay / Solar Generation – Pilipinas

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