By Caesar Vallejos
OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Eagle News Service
The lush foliage of a serene oasis at the center of a highly urbanized environment turned more intense with the bright colored shirts worn by volunteers from the Iglesia Ni Cristo Locale of Visayas Avenue for its first Clean-Up Drive project.
Clad in colors that represent their respective groups, around 200 volunteers, armed with cleaning gears, trooped to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City, Philippines, dubbed as the “Nature Park in the City’s Heart”, a venue for various educational, scientific, civic, religious and recreational activities.
“The Iglesia Ni Cristo supports the government in caring for nature and cleanliness of the environment,” Bro. Alex Barrientos, Resident Minister of INC Locale of Visayas said.
NAPWC is a 23.8-hectare protected area under the management and administration of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It is one of the few remaining spots in the middle of the city that are replete with greenery, helping mitigate the impact of air pollution in the metropolis.
“Alam naman natin na matindi ang polusyon, maging hangin man o sa tubig at isa ito sa mga bunga ng mga hindi maayos na pag-sesegrate ng basura at sanhi din ng mga basurang hindi nakokolekta at hindi malinis na kapaligiran,” Bro. Barrientos said.
It is for this reason that the INC Locale of Visayas coordinated with the management of NAPWC in the conduct of the clean-up drive. The park is “a thriving urban biodiversity composed of different species of endemic and introduced plant species as well as various animal species.”
“Nilalayon din natin na lalong mapasigla ang mga kapatid sa pakikipagkaisa sa mga aktibidad ng Iglesia lalo pa at ang mga ito ay may kinalaman sa inilunsad ng Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan, Kapatid na Eduardo V. Manalo na paigtingin ang mga gawain sa Iglesia,” Bro. Barrientos emphasized.
Clean-up drives form part of the Church of Christ’s ongoing program on environmental protection and conservation. Campaigns like clean-up drives are community-based, environmental initiatives that inspire and empower groups to clean up, fix up and conserve the environment.
“When the locale’s Church Family Organizations conducted a joint conference, the Buklod, Kadiwa and Binhi organizations, part of the project outline and plan designed is the clean-up drive. We were very pleased that the management of the park immediately approved our request for this activity, and they led and administered choosing the areas for our clean-up,” Bro. Barrientos narrated.
Barrientos also emphasized how important a clean environment is. “Para sa isang Iglesia Ni Cristo, dito tayo gumagalaw, dito tayo nabubuhay kaya’t ang isang maganda at maaliwalas na kapaligiran ang kailangan natin para sa maaliwas din na pamumuhay,” he explained.
Bro. Barrientos also called on other groups and organizations to participate in similar activities that promote the conservation of nature and protection of the environment.
NAPWC Forester Concordia Gonzalvo thanked the INC for choosing the wildlife park as venue for the clean-up drive. “Yung mga bata gusto rin naming matutunan nila kung paano mag-segregate ng mga basura sa kani-kanilang mga bahay-bahay,” Gonzalvo said.
Aside from cleaning selected areas in the park, the youth organizations learned waste management practices during the clean-up drive where proper segregation of wastes was exercised.
The Wildlife Park is “envisioned to be an ecotourism destination and a venue for biodiversity conservation and education on Philippine endemic and rare wild flora and fauna.”
According to the NAPWC website, “its mission to provide a broad spectrum of outdoor recreational and ecotourism opportunities in a highly urbanized environment, with areas to play, appreciate the nature and gain delightful experience and where one can also learn about Philippine wildlife and nature conservation.”
Beyond cleanliness and environmental awareness
Bro. Barrientos said that activities such as this does not only help increase awareness of people about environment protection and cleanliness but also makes families closer together. “Nakapagsasagawa ng bonding ang mga pamilya, pagkatapos ng paglilinis, may isasagawang picnic ang bawat pamilya,” he said.
“Natutuwa kami dahil pati mga anak namin ay nadadala namin sa ganitong mga bagay,” Joel Columbino, father of two toddlers said. “Napakaimportante ng kalinisan sa kalikasan. Sa ganitong mga gawain din natin naipapakita ang kahalagahan ng kalikasan at kalinisan para sa kalusugan ng ating mga anak,” Columbino stressed.
The officers of the INC Locale of Visayas said that this is just the first of other activities that they will launch aimed at helping clean and protect the environment. The Locale of Visayas, which was recently visited by the Executive Minister Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo after his pastoral visitations in Asia, will be celebrating its first anniversary on April 2019.