Since the words were famously spoken by Eldridge Cleaver in 1968, the phrase “You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem” has gone on to be repeated countless times. But I’m afraid when it comes to my current role in barangay solid waste management in the Philippines, I am a part of both.
A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district, or ward. The City of San Fernando is made up of 59 barangays and according to the Republic Act No. 9003, each of them needs it’s own solid waste management plan. Working with the Environment and Natural Resources Office of San Fernando City, myself and fellow Sustainable Cities International intern Jonathan De Luca are helping to create those solid waste management plans.
During our training with SCI in Vancouver, Jonathan remarked that it would be interesting to live in one of the barangays that we assist with solid waste management. We are currently working with 5 of the barangays in San Fernando City and unlikely enough we do reside in one of them – Barangay I.
We have assisted the council of Barangay I in forming a solid waste management committee, drafting a solid waste management plan and passing an ordinance that mandates proper segregation, regular collection and a campaign to raise awareness among residents. The ordinance will come officially come into effect in the New Year.
Until then, I throw my garbage on the corner just like everyone else in the barangay. I don’t segregate my waste and I certainly don’t have a compost heap in my yard. I am undoubtedly a part of the problem. But I remain hopeful that before my time here is over, I will only be a part of the solution.