Country Water Action Philippines
Young Volunteers Revive Dying Creek
Water and Youth August 2014
Rizal Province, Philippines – A group of young volunteers took on the challenge of saving the dying Maningning Creek in the town of Taytay and inspired entire communities to follow suit.
Maningning (literally, bright) Creek is a 3 kilometer body of water that traverses 4 barangays (villages) in Taytay and once served as the people’s source of food and livelihood as well as a venue for recreational activities. Nobody seemed to notice its slow degradation over the years. What once was a pleasant sight to behold became a receptacle of garbage, consequently relieving it of its capacity to grow carp, mudfish, tilapias, and other marine life.In 2009, when the floods brought by Typhoon Ondoy ravaged the town, a group of young people took notice of Maningning’s state of decline and decided to turn things around.“After Typhoon Ondoy, we realized how big a problem flooding is in Taytay. We knew we had to do something about it,” said Tobit Cruz, co-founder of youth volunteer group Angat Kabataan. “We looked at the different waterways of the province and saw that Maningning Creek was in dire need of rehabilitation.” Angat Kabataan consisted of only 4 volunteers, all of them below 25 years old, but they immediately went to work, persisted and pushed on with their cleanups, planting of bamboo trees, and using Bokashi balls in treating wastewater.
Cruz recounts how impassioned they were to take on the huge task of restoring Maningning, only to be overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done. “We had no budget to work with. Instead, we wrote letters to everyone we knew had a stake in the salvation of the creek. We wrote to the local government, NGOs, and even to government agencies such as the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” recounts Cruz.Ironically, Cruz said their greatest challenge was getting the support of the community, as many felt that Maningning Creek was beyond repair. When Angat Kabataan successfully gained a few more volunteers, they decided to start a campaign to get different sectors of society involved.Support for the youth’s initiative both from residents and non-residents, and from public and private groups soon came and Maningning Creek began to improve. “Beyond the visible physical improvements of the creek, we consider getting everyone involved as our biggest achievement,” Cruz said. “Now, you can see that each household has their own set of cleaning materials and the community holds voluntarily clean-up sessions.”