At Large

‘Huwag kang plastic’

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Launched yesterday amid intermittent rain—and busy shoppers—in the premier weekend market of Metro Manila: “Huwag Kang Plastic: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle at the Salcedo Community Market.”

A project of the “Women of Bel-Air” and officials of Barangay Bel-Air, which founded the Salcedo Market eight years ago, “Huwag kang Plastic” encourages its vendors and customers to espouse the “green lifestyle,” mainly by rejecting the use of plastic bags and bringing their own reusable bags and food containers. Barangay chair Nene Lichauco also proudly touted their use of innovative plastic bags that are partly made from starch and thus more biodegradable than the ubiquitous—and highly polluting—plastic “sando” bags.

Cutting the ribbon at the project launch was Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, who confided that the city had yet to finalize its regulations regarding the use of plastic bags mainly because he wanted to find a reasonable compromise, conceding that “we cannot go 100 percent” in banning plastics unless there are effective and practical alternatives.

Among the giveaways to the media at the launch were  bayong full of sample products from the many stalls in Salcedo Market. Bayong  have long been on sale at the market, although I spotted many shoppers storing their purchases in their own carts, cloth bags and baskets. Mayor Binay even proudly showed off a shopping tote made of recycled tarpaulin streamers, fashioned by inmates of the city jail. The bags, produced by a cooperative, not only reduce wastage of plastic tarpaulins for which the government spends money and manpower just to collect, but also provide a bit of income for the inmates. Although, the mayor joked: “We don’t want it to be so successful that people end up committing crimes just so they end up behind bars and earning money.”

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It’s been two years since the city government of Makati and the Ayala Group submitted an application for the implementation of the “BRT” or Bus Rapid Transit program. The program consists of setting apart a dedicated “bus lane” which will ferry passengers in much the same way as the elevated railways, but at much lower costs.

“The program has yet be approved by the Department of Transportation,” Mayor Binay explained when I asked why the program, which is a proven success in many cities in Latin America, the United States, and Europe, has yet to get off the ground. “Our aim is really to make moving around the city as easy as possible to discourage people from having to bring their cars,” he said.

He is, he proclaimed, a proponent of “small” cities or distinct districts, where people live, work, shop and relax in a compact area, discouraged from too much commuting.

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The “Legends” of the PBA will take part in three “mini-tournaments” in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in “dream games” scheduled from Oct. 24 to Nov. 2. The PBA Legends Games have been timed for the annual Hajj or pilgrimage season, which this year falls in the period between Oct. 24 and 29.

The program, which will pit the PBA legends against Filipino expatriate teams as well as those made up of young Saudi players, is supported by His Royal Highness Prince Nawaf bin Faisal bin Fahad, who heads the Youth Welfare section of the Ministry of Sports and Welfare of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ruffy Ignacio, one of the organizers of the visit, says the goodwill games are “aimed at strengthening athletic and cultural ties between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.”

Managed by Coordinations Est. Co., the PBA Legends visit was organized with the cooperation of regional Filipino basketball organizations in Saudi Arabia: the Pilipino Basketball Association in Dammam, the Overseas Filipino Basketball League in Jeddah, and the Philippine Arabia Basketball Association in Riyadh.

Already, the Pinoy basketball veterans have been warned not to downplay the “threat” from their opponents on the court. Locals warn that they will be facing “young and strong players, including the Saudi teams.” Among the Filipino expatriate teams are former PBA and PBL players, including Melvin Mamaclay, Jovie Sese, Joel Dualan, Boboy Rodriguez, Jessie Cabanayan, and Ariel Layug, who at 6’9” is a formidable opponent.

One of the organizers also warned the visitors that they will find an avid crowd in all their games, since people (Pinoys, Saudi and other nationals) are “starving, thirsting and lusting” after some basketball action. For one thing, there are 1.4 million Filipino expatriates in the Kingdom, all of whom, it seems, are basketball-crazy.

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Paintings and other objects by renowned Filipino artists, potters and illustrators will be auctioned off on Oct. 2 at the Dusit Thani Manila at 7 p.m. (although the doors will be open earlier to the public) for the benefit of Museo Pambata.

The proceeds of the art auction will go to the Museo for its many “wishes”: installing a better playground for the children, and acquiring a tent for outdoor summer events as well as new sound systems and air-conditioning units for the Museum.

Yesterday, De La Salle Lipa, which is turning 50 years old, hosted an art exhibit, called “Continuum,” to raise funds for its scholarship program. The La Salle System has set a goal of 20 percent of its students on full scholarship, and DLS Lipa is on the way to reaching that goal with 16 percent of its students on scholarship.

In terms of student population, this means that there are more than 1,700 full scholars out of the total student population of 10,800.

Br. Kenneth Martinez, president and chancellor of DLS Lipa, says the goal is to maintain, if not increase, support for its scholars so they can finish their education without too much stress insecurity.

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