Volunteers make Leganes environment-friendly

Nancy Unarse, who does her morning walks at the Leganes Plaza, lamented the waste management practices in the town after seeing the litter of garbage everywhere.
“For a long time, I wanted to do something, but I was working then,” she said.
When she retired from work, she brought up the idea to her fellow morning walkers and joggers, who also expressed their support.
Taking action, the group held their first meeting on July 16, 2013 with 62 individuals wanting to volunteer.
The group was named Volunteers for a Better Leganes and the members have set out to make the town litter-free, beautiful and sustainable.

Upper left: Madoline Dormitorio-Espano, Melba Rapo, Rose Guardialao and Nancy Unarse prepare the materials for the October 30 “Trash to Fashion” contest. Upper middle photo: Dr. Bilenda Nufable (right), Delia Suplido (left) and another volunteer. Other photos: The upper rim of a softdrink container was turned into a flower decor; flower rings made of newspaper and lighting made of water container.

“Our first program is the beautification of Leganes,” Unarse, the group’s president said.
“So, we cleaned and planted greens on the plaza every Saturday and Sunday. Now, we are working here every day,” she said.
Currently, they have 20 active members, with some coming from the youth sector.
Now, the grounds around the plaza are filled with plants and flowers, providing delight to walkers, joggers, lovers, families and athletes.
There are garbage cans made of recycled water containers that are situated at every corner. They come in colors red, green and yellow to aid the public in segregating the garbage as to what are recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable.
According to volunteer Delia Suplido, the old comfort room was renovated and painted. Now, it serves as the headquarters of the volunteers as well as comfort room for guests whenever there are events at the plaza.
“People who go to the ukay-ukay every Saturday and Sunday now have a restroom that is near,” she said.
Volunteer Melba Rapo had set-up a small ‘tiangge’ inside in order to augment her income.

The Leganes plaza. The cemented pavements were completed 
in the early part of 2013. The plaza was made even more beautiful 
by flowers and plants cultivated 
by the Volunteers for a Better Leganes.

Amid these developments are challenges that the volunteers go through, with criticisms as the most common.
“But, we sticked to our plan and we told ourselves that we can do this,” Unarse said.
Another challenge is the lack of funds.
“We lack garden tools. We cultivate the soil using our bare hands,” said Suplido.
“We depend on what people give. We got the plants and flowers from the garden of Madoline Dormitorio-Espano,” she added, referring to the mother of Vice Mayor Allen Espano.
“Or if not, I buy from the Leganes Garden Club,” Dormotorio-Espano said.
“Since we stay here the whole day, we also need to eat, so some people donate food. Ong Bakery, for example, sends us bread every Saturday,” Unarse said.
“Sometimes, we chip-in,” she added.
Recognizing their work, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) Wilson Batislaong asked Unarse to be a member of the town’s waste management board.
“There, I pushed the volunteers’ initiative and he supported,” Unarse said.
“We finally controlled the garbage problem. In fact, Leganes is among the top 10 finalists in the provincewide Clean and Green 2013 contest. The volunteers’ contributions were recognized,” she said.
“The group is now organized. We have heads for the beautification, youth and socials and community outreach committees,” she said.

To further increase the public’s awareness on environment protection as well as raise funds for their projects, the group is holding a Trash for Fashion show Wednesday, October 30, 7.p.m. at the Leganes gym.
The contest categories are Open, High School, Elementary and Day Care. The models’ attires are made of recycled materials.
During the interview, the volunteers were busy preparing the props for the program. Scattered in the area were rings made of newspaper that were glued together to form flowers; upper rim of one-liter softdrink containers cut to form flowers; used beverage straws cut to form ‘banderitas’’; upper rim of water containers turned into lighting materials and plastic cups for the chandelier, among others.
“We will use recycled materials in the show. We don’t have money to buy new things anyway,” Unarse said laughing.
Another project is the Wellness Garden beside the Leganes Resource Center for the Deaf, which is near the plaza and the playground.
“We will sell juice. You can directly go to the area and we will prepare the fresh juice for you,” Dr. Bilenda Nufable, another volunteer said.
This is part of their wellness program, in addition to the nightly taebo activity at the pavilion.
She added that they are planning to have an expo for rattan and bamboo makers this November.
“We have many rattan and bamboo manufacturers in Leganes and we would like to highlight them. Then, on December we will have the Christmas Lights display. They will be made of recycled materials, too,” she added.
Dormitorio-Espano said everyone can be a volunteer, as long as he/she is a resident of Leganes.
She said a volunteer has to be resourceful. “We make do with the garbage we pick up everywhere. In fact, the local government unit has not spent a cent on the group’s projects,” she said.
“It’s a good thing that the volunteers come from different professions, so they can contribute based on their expertise and field,” Unarse said.
Meanwhile, since the group was founded as a support to Mayor Adolf Jaen, the question on their sustainability if ever the political leadership will change someday, was raised.
“The group will still continue. If they still want us,” Unarse assured.

Currently, the local government unit of Leganes has a showroom for recycled products. It is located beside the Municipal Tourism Office and in front of the St. Vincent Ferrer Church.
“We are into recycling of plastics into bags, slippers and other forms of materials that are beneficial to the people. Then, the Department of Social Welfare and Development will add to the three R’s – recycle, reuse and reduce – another R which is remodelling. Here, used materials and stuff will be turned into unique, fashionable and desirable to use,” Vice Mayor Espano said.
They also hold Basura Baylo Kwarta every Saturday wherein residents sell their trash to interested buyers at the public market.
Earlier, Espano said the town will have a sanitary landfill at Brgy. Nabitasan and Brgy. MV Hechanova.
This is to comply with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment‘s requirement pursuant to Republic Act 9003.
They will also implement the no-plastic use at the market and in all establishments soon.*

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