“Basurang itinapon mo, babalik din sayo–nang mapakinabangan mo.”
(The garbage that you throw will return to you–for you to benefit from.)
Such were the words of Brgy. Tuntungin-Putho captain, Ronald Oñate said in summarizing current initiatives in his village toward solid waste management.
Drawing inspiration from the famous campaign slogan during the 1990’s, Oñate said that the tagline can go beyond waste management and responsible cleaning to also cover opening a business that will earn a profit and provide food for everyone in the barangay.
Barangay Tuntungin-Putho is the only barangay in Los Baños that has its own materials recovery facility (MRF) that helps people in the community dispose of their waste materials in a useful way. Built two years ago, the MRF brought new livelihood activities and work opportunities in the community.
For instance, several individuals found work in gathering waste from various areas in the barangay, while housewives found livelihood opportunities in making new products from recyclable materials.
The barangay’s Task Force Development (TFD) is assigned to gather the waste materials around the community. The group collects garbage every day and sorts it based on the three classifications of wastes, namely, recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable.
Recyclable and non-renewable wastes, like plastic bottles and paper, are used by mothers in the community to make bags, plastic flower beads, and accessories, which they will sell for a living.
Biodegradable materials are used in barangay garden as fertilizer.
Green Gardening Project
As a part of the barangay’s Green Gardening Project, the MRF was constructed to also benefit the barangay’s organic farm. The gardening idea came about when people in the barangay were complaining about the lack of necessities, such as food.
“Kung ang tao ay naghihirap, magtatanim yan,” Oñate said. (If people are struggling, they will plant.)
The garden was established behind the barangay hall, near the Tuntungin-Putho Integrated National High School (TPINHS) to influence the youth to plant vegetables and manage disposed wastes properly.
“Nandito ang school. Para sa mga bata [ang Green Gardening Project]. Wala nang mga bata ngayon na mag-iisip na sila ay magtanim ng gulay. Walang batang mag-iisip kung anong gagawin nila sa basura; kailangan ipakita sa kanila.” Oñate said.
(The school is here. The Green Garden Project is for the children. The youth of today no longer think of planting vegetables. No child thinks of what to do with the disposed waste; we have to show them.)
The nearby school also planned to launch a contest to promote appreciation of planting and nurturing plants, specially vegetables. The Los Baños Gender and Development (GAD) Office provided the seeds for gardening, including squash, taro, bitter gourd, horseradish, eggplant, and gourd. Other vegetable seeds and seedlings were given by the people of the community who already have vegetable plants at home.
The TFD maintains and nurtures the plants using the organic fertilizer from the MRF. They have two steps in nurturing the plants: (1) make compost and mix it with the soil, and (2) produce liquid smoke from the MRF.
In making the liquid smoke, biodegradable materials are burned. The resulting smoke is collected and the liquid produced will flow in the tube will be collected in containers. The liquid spray is used as the pesticide.
People once asked vegetables from the garden and gave them vegetable seeds to plant. If the person has concerns on planting, the barangay will help them plant.
“Kung sementado, sagot ko lupa nyo. Ito (yung) punla. (Kapag) sinabing walang pambili ng seedling tray, pwede natin yan gawan ng paraan.” Oñate said.
(If your lot is cemented, I provide you land. I’ll give you a seedling. If the person said he/she don’t have money to buy a seedling tray, we will make a way.)
In receiving the seed, a person is obliged to list his/her name in the record book, take pictures for the documentation, and return at least five seeds or more to the barangay if he/she successfully planted and grown the seed. The seeds collected are packed again and is distributed to the people.
Marjori Concia, a 36-year old resident of Barangay Tuntungin Putho, is a beneficiary of the seedlings.
“Pumunta dito. Okra tempura yung ginawa. Sa kanila din ako natuto (kung) paano magluto ng gulay.” Oñate shares.
([She] went here. [She] made okra tempura. I learned how to cook vegetables from them.)
About 30 people in the community participated by claiming vegetable seeds and planting it on their own.
“Mabuti naman para di na manghingi ang mga tao ng gulay sa kapit bahay, at saka maturuan din sila maging responsableng mamamayan dito,” Oñate continued.
(It is good because the people will not just ask their neighbor for vegetables, they will also learn how to become a responsible resident.)