Millions join rising movement to clean own communities | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Millions join rising movement to clean own communities

/ 05:00 AM January 23, 2024

A huge cleaning consciousness is sweeping every barangay in the country today with millions of citizens showing up to ensure greener, healthier, and safer improvement. Try to look at the events online, Facebook hashtags #clean communities, #KALINISANsaBagong Pilipinas and #Buildbettermore and marvel at the pictures of warm bodies cleaning up roads, canals, markets, and schools in a brilliant exhibition of our “bayanihan spirit”.

This happened after President Marcos launched “Kalinisan sa Bagong Pilipinas”, a nationwide clean-up program mobilizing all newly elected barangay and youth officials and initially declared Saturday, January 6 as National Community Development Day. With Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos and DILG officials taking the lead, thousands of barangay and youth councils acted and then reported to social media how they implemented the President’s clean-up in their respective communities.

The posts and photos of participants were staggering, and one gushes, seeing the Filipino volunteerism very much alive. From January 6 to 7, about 90,000 posts were registered thru #KALINISANsaBagongPilipinas, another 43,000 posts used the #BuildBetterMore hashtag, while 40,000 posts included the #CleanCommunities hashtag to support the program. Or a total of more than 170,000 posts on Facebook alone.


On January 9, Secretary Abalos reported 1,234,844 volunteers participated, while 245,393 local officials joined the clean-up efforts or a total of almost 1.5 million people nationwide. They collected about 5,143,775 kilograms of trash from roads, esteros, outside of schools, markets, and other public areas.


This rising spirit stirred activities in rural and urban barangays all over, where each one crafted their own campaign. An example is barangay 469 in Sampaloc, Manila, near UST.  Their theme says, “Embrace the power of community as we come together for a transformative Clean-Up Drive in our beloved barangay! Let’s sweep away litter, plant seeds of change, and nurture a greener, cleaner future. Join hands, hearts, and hands for a “#CleanBarangay469, because the beauty of our community starts with each one of us making a difference”. They are very visible on social media with hashtags, #MagnificentManila and #MagnificentBarangays

About two weeks after its successful launching, baranggays continued posting their clean-up activities. The list is so long but to mention a few notables, they are from Baranggay South-Ormoc city, Barobo-Eastern Samar, Burgos-Isabela, Bgy Talim-Lucena City, Sagrada -Iriga city, St Paul Creek-BGY Moonwalk PQUE, San Pablo-Surigao Del Norte, Tipolo-Mandaue city, including dancing participants in Bgy Talaga-Tanauan Batangas

I heard that the President was ecstatic on this show of massive volunteerism by newly elected barangay and youth officials and their constituents in seriously cleaning their communities.  He called on all LGUs nationwide to join the clean-up drive. He suggested to DILG a monthly assessment on the performance of the Barangay Councils and reward those with outstanding performances. “Cleanliness should be part of performance guarantees of LGUs”, he said. For his part, Secretary Abalos says his office will conduct quarterly recognition of local government units that will efficiently implement KALINISAN” (Kalinga at Inisyatiba para sa Malinis na Bayan).

This barangay-level clean-up movement is already phenomenal and unprecedented, compared to past decades. I would remember during the early days of martial law; barangays were highly mobilized with citizens choosing their own “community brigades”. With the energetic and zealous drives of newly elected chairmen and their supporters, this drive, if consistently done, would succeed and permanently change people’s mindset to seriously care for their own community.

P18-B Pasig River rehabilitation will be totally funded only by donations

This is really one for the books. The President’s recently launched rehabilitation of Pasig River will not use any government money and will be financed entirely by donations from the private sector.

The “Pasig Bigyang Buhay Muli” project, spearheaded by the First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos is a mixed-use facility that envisions the waterway into a communal hub. It wants to revive Pasig River as a maritime highway and a living river of multiple benefits for communities, with safe walkways and bikeways along its banks as well as a greener corridor. It also aims to maximize the river’s economic potential by converting its entire 25 kilometer stretch from Manila Bay to Laguna de Bay into open public parks and mixed-use commercial areas.


Human Settlements and Urban Developments Sec. Jerry Acuzar leads the Interagency council for the Pasig River Development, created last July to accelerate the rehabilitation and enhancement of banks along the river. He assured that developments in this project will be fast because funding comes from donations and there would be no bidding.

Attending the launch last week were Tessie Sy-Coson of SM, Lance Gokongwei of JG Summit, CEO Kevin tan f Alliance Global, Ayala Corp CEO Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Vista Land’s CEO and former senator Manny Villar. I guess these tycoons will be the source of donations of project.

Yesterday, the National Housing Authority initiated the processes to assist in the displacement here of more than 5,000 to 10,000 informal settler families.  Sec. Acuzar again assures that relocation sites of affected families will be funded by the private sector, meaning without government money.

But what sends people thinking is what happens now to the approved Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) of San Miguel Corporation by the Duterte Administration in 2021.  This was a planned six-lane elevated road that will run along the banks of Pasig River-from Radial Road 10 in Manila to C-6 in Laguna de Bay. Will this mean cancellation of that project since humongous, cemented infrastructure that would be inconsistent with the envisioned “living river” of the President? 

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Our nation is witness to previous “Save Pasig River efforts” which all failed by the past administrations including private sectors and foreign initiatives.  But this new one, I believe has a better chance, and is not only timely, but  inspirational, and nationally uplifting. I will continue to remain very optimistic on its fast completion in a few years, as promised.

TAGS: community cleanup, Sharp Edges

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