Part 3: Braverhearts and Green Warriors of Maluso, Slay!

A four-part series on Synergeia’s Solid Waste Management Project with the Coca-Cola Foundation-

The Maluso Experience: Of Bravehearts and Green Warriors

To walk the talk is never easy.

But first is to understand the real problem and why it is happening.

Maluso admits that many of their practices on waste disposal negate their vision of clean, green and environmentally sustainable communities.

Local officials and community workers who participated in the seminar on solid waste management conducted by Synergeia with the Coca-Cola Foundation observed that:

1. Maluso lacks garbage receptacles or dump sites.

2. Adults and children don’t have good habits on waste disposal.

3. There is no established system of waste disposal.

4. Households in coastal areas dump their garbage in the open sea.

5. Some households throw their garbage under the trees.

6. Food wastes  are  thrown anywhere  or used  to feed pets and animals; and

7. Recycling of plastic bottles is small-scale and unsustainable.

 In many ways, the behavior of people, which results in these observations and causes major waste management issues for Maluso, needs some drastic change or improvement.

Mayor  Hanie  Bud stressed the importance of social preparation as a critical starting point. It means that communities have to be empowered with the knowledge and capacity to have the proper mindset and behavior on solid waste disposal, reduction, reuse, and recycling. A massive information and awareness campaign targeted towards communities will be useful to produce this outcome.

He also cited how he already started a  “no single-use plastic”  policy in the municipal office where he encouraged the employees and workers to bring water  tumblers and refill drinking water using the dispensers installed in the municipal building.   

Indeed, walking the talk can only succeed when communities band together to slay their roles in their solid waste management goals and be the Braverhearts and Green Warriors that they truly are.

The barangays in Maluso will walk the talk by doing what it need to do.

It will start the experiment of reducing and recycling plastic waste through, among others, the conduct of a community information drive, the provision of sacks to every household to be used in collecting plastic waste, and the establishment of baseline data on the collected plastics as the basis for formulating better strategies and approaches.

Synergeia offered its support by providing materials on the “Effects  of  Climate Change” for the barangay information drive, helping experts in the design of a capacity building workshop, connecting Maluso with

Coke’s waste aggregators or recyclers for the processing of plastics and introducing the idea of available but expensive technology for converting/processing plastics into fuel.

To Maluso, its time has come.

Read next: The Finale: The Future of Maluso Unraveled

Part 2: Braverhearts Reveal

A four-part series on Synergeia’s Solid Waste Management Project with the Coca-Cola Foundation- The Maluso Experience: Of Bravehearts and Green Warriors

When local leaders and communities acknowledge that they need help, it shows how their hearts are braver to confront their problems and challenges and seek better solutions that work best for the brighter future they are aiming for.

Maluso in Basilan portrayed a picture of honesty and resolve in their solid waste management issues that have in many ways crippled their vision of a clean, green and environmentally sustainable place.

Mayor Hanie Bud and his barangay chairmen and other municipal government officials listened intently to the orientation sessions of the Synergeia team whose objective was to further raise their awareness and understanding of the problems arising from the lack of a solid waste management (SWM) plan,  the inadequacy in knowledge of the best practices in SWM and the weaknesses in capabilities of communities to adopt the appropriate discipline and behavior in ensuring cleanliness, health and wellness and protection of the environment.

In particular, Dr. Milwida Guevara raised the importance of having an audit or mapping to obtain strong data, like among others, the quantity and type of garbage a normal household will have which may include recyclable materials like plastics and how they are disposed of, to support a more need-based strategy and approach.

Moreover, as a best practice model, Mayor Jimuel  Que shared Bongao’s journey on SWM and how formulating a 10-year SWM plan strategically helped in preparing and building capacities of communities toward implementing environmentally sustainable processes and practices, including the use and deployment of garbage trucks, the development of sanitary landfill, and the conduct of information and education campaigns.

On the part of Maluso, it was not indifferent to the problems associated with SWM. It has kickstarted major steps to demonstrate its seriousness in dealing with the issues and concerns. It has already organized sectoral consultations among market vendors, the business sector,  basura patrollers and other community stakeholders. Information drives through the barangay and youth programs have been done. A materials recovery facility has also been established in each barangay. Even tree and mangrove planting has been promoted.

But the concrete push comes from this partnership initiative of Maluso’s local government with Synergeia and Coca-Cola Foundation to test its wherewithal and commitment to provide more depth and truth to its SWM goals and expose and engage its communities to a new kind of culture that puts being clean and green a topmost priority.

Indeed, Maluso is one braverheart revealed and the real work is just beginning.

Read next: Part 3: Slaying with the Braverhearts and Green Warriors of Maluso