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Estero clean-up project in UP community

The estero running through Block 5 in Daang Tubo (a community inside the UP Campus) is on its way to being clean.

GMA Network and its partners, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association, the Philippine Biochar Association and the Sagip Ilog Pilipinas, collaborated on the Clean River Zone Biochar Community initiative.

The Kapuso Network and its partners signed a Memorandum of Agreement in early 2014 to clean up the said estero using bokashi balls (bokashi balls are made from dried mud and other organic materials, including biochar, and are used to clean bodies of water that have high concentrations of sludge and slime).

Bokashi is a Japanese term that means 'fermented organic
matter' and refers to a system developed in Japan that uses
beneficial micro-organisms to break down toxins and food waste.

The Clean River Zone Biochar Community initiative is among GMA’s corporate responsibility initiatives under its Kapuso ng Kalikasan platform. PBiA covered the technology transfer component, teaching the Block 5 residents how to make the bokashi balls that were submerged into the estero. Sagip Ilog organized the residents into committees that will continuously liaise with the barangay long after CRZ is finished. Sagip also gave workshops and trainings on leadership and other necessary skills to help the residents govern themselves more efficiently and effectively. PMSEA, the industry association focused on espousing safety in the mining industry and the environment, funded the community engagement activities of both Sagip Ilog and PBiA as part of its larger effort to bring the importance of safety to the public at large.

Solenn Heussaff

The Kapuso Network’s corps of employee volunteers, the GMA GIVES, interacted with the community through various volunteers activities. GMA GIVES worked side by side with the Block 5 residents during several clean up activities; Kapuso star Solenn Heussaff taught around 30 kids the basics of painting; Bea Binene, a Kapuso teen darling, spent an afternoon learning how to make bokashi balls, together with the Block 5 residents and GMA GIVES.

A distinct component of the CRZ is the water quality testing—while bokashi balls were periodically submerged, water testing was also done on a regular basis to track and quantify the improvements in the estero.  The results of the first water sampling in January 2014 were very bad with the water quality failing in all aspects of DENR’s standards. After five water tests and around 2000 bokashi balls submerged over a nine-month period (February to October 2014), the estero’s water quality is showing signs of improvement—the foul odor is practically gone and the Ph levels have, at least, reached the minimum to be considered neither alkaline nor acidic.

Solenn Heussaff with some of the Daang Tubo kids. The
GMA star taught 30 kids how to paint.

Interest from other like-minded organizations to replicate this in other areas has been noted. The community officers of Daang Tubo and the barangay officers are all very enthusiastic, too, about sustaining the gains of the CRZ. Isabelita Gravidez, the barangay captain, says she is a Kapuso through and through, and has profusely thanked the partners for piloting the CRZ in her community.

GMA Network chairman and chief executive Felipe Gozon, expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome the Block 5 residents extended to the CRZ players.

The residents have committed to keep the peripheral areas of their homes clean and clutter-free. Their rallying cry? “Tapat ko, linis ko (I promise to clean my yard).”

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