FILLED WITH the Christmas spirit on the evening of Dec. 25, I hiked with my beloved to the Quezon Memorial Circle which looked very festive and packed from the side of the Quezon City Hall. Indeed, it was teeming with holiday revelers who were engaged in various activities: picnicking, shopping, playing badminton, cycling, zip-lining (two-way for us), boating, trying out the different carnival rides, etc. It was a cool and somewhat breezy night so I did not mind joining the crowd.
My cheerfulness, however, promptly went kaput at the sight of the picnic areas surrounding the tower. There was so much trash—plastic wrappers, Styrofoam food containers, paper bags—scattered around.
At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I express my dismay at those many visitors’ utter disregard for the cleanliness of the place. Was it that hard to pick up their trash as they were packing their stuff before leaving? Keeping the grounds spic-and-span would have been a wonderful gift to the sweepers.
Seeing all the filth around me broke my bubble, for I was actually feeling optimistic these past few years thinking that the majority of us Filipinos have developed a more concerned attitude toward the environment. Perhaps I looked at things from a very limited point of view. At any rate, it is baffling how others just leave their rubbish in a public place where everyone is expected to maintain its cleanliness. It’s very bothersome and disappointing. It’s a major cause for concern.
Lamenting the uncleanliness around me, I suddenly recalled the school tour that six Miss Earth-Philippines 2012 winners and the Ecuadorian Miss Earth 2011 winner made to JASMS-QC last July 4. Facilitating the students’ open forum, I took the liberty of asking them to grade the Filipinos’ general attitude toward environmental protection—from zero (lowest) to 10 (highest). The first girl who answered paused momentarily before saying, “Only five.” Ouch! She went on to say that in all honesty, she felt that we as a people do not seem to care much about the environment, if she were to base it on our actions.
Yes, it’s a disappointing grade. But I can’t say I disagree with her, for every now and then I do witness examples of people’s total apathy toward the environment. One time on Wilson Street in San Juan, a man in front of me at an ATM very casually threw his transaction receipt to the floor after withdrawing money. It was infuriating, especially since there was a trash bin a few feet away from him on his left. On another occasion at Waltermart Mall in Muñoz Edsa, I saw a man spit out his phlegm on the floor as he was climbing the stairs. That was very unsanitary and inconsiderate. I used to think that these were isolated cases. Now I wonder if these are more prevalent than I would like to believe.
This 2013, let’s include in our list of resolutions being more environmentally conscious and conscientious, at home and in public. We have to change our ways for our own good and survival. Happy New Year!
—CLAUDE LUCAS C. DESPABILADERAS,