I think it was last week…we’ve done SO much that the days are merging into one big memory blob. So last week (probably), we packed our water bottles, swim things, sunglasses and cameras (you know, the essentials) and ourselves into the-best-vehicle-of-all-time and went on an adventure.
Now that we had four wheels (four wheels better than two wheels!) and were not struggling around on foot or squished into a trike, the world was our oyster! We went to all the hard-to-get-to-sites on the way to check out the landfill site to see what happens to all the plastic. First off we went to Minolo pier. Some of us will be working with the fishermen and banqueros there for our personal assignments, so we all went for a gander. A quick chat and a few snaps and we’re off again! Onwards and upwards (about 2000 m) we head to the delightfully expensive Ponderosa Golf Club. JJ leads the way carefully steering us up the never-ending hill. All that hard work so far, surely we deserve an overpriced coffee to enjoy the view?
Back down to earth, we get some mundane tasks out the way; getting petrol, eating lunch before we were back on our adventure. We bounced along in the jeepney, sometimes outside, sometimes on the front seat, sometimes in the back, but always stared at. A bunch of whities (and a halfie) driving around in a jeepney is uncommon, apparently. Stopping at the recycling plant, we found it staffed by a bewildered employee who spoke no English. We speaking practically nothing of Tagalog performed unsuccessful mimes to find out very little. What was evident was that plastic was shredded and added as a filler to concrete blocks – so it was at least sequestered for a few decades.
At this point we’re a little sweaty, covered in a thin layer of road dust and need a wash. What better way than to drive a little further, get caked in a little more road dust and jump into the famed Tamaraw Falls.
After our fun and frolics in the cool mountain waters it was time to get back in the jeep and back to work. We took the scenic route to the landfill site (read: had no idea how to get there). Finally, we ventured up a dirt track and were rewarded with a sore-eyed sight of a pit full of plastic. What was encouraging was that the majority was plastic, meaning waste segregation was really working. What wasn’t was that there is still SO much plastic. And there’s nothing to do but bury it.
The general attitude of SE Asia towards plastic has always amused/depressed me. It’s as if you haven’t officially bought something if it isn’t handed to you in a plastic bag. When I started bringing my own bags to shops, the sentence “Oh, no thanks, no plastic, I have my bag” got me the same look I imagine I’d get if I were to ask where Zaphod Beeblebrox and his intergalectic spaceship the Heart of Gold were. The concept is so alien, even until this day.
Slowly but surely, times are a-changing. Last years ZEP’s had a ‘Say No to Plastic’ campaign around the area, asking shops to display posters to encourage people to bring their own bags to shops, and explaining to shop owners the reasons why plastic is so bad. I’m happy to report that they posters are still up! Though I think the message has been diluted slightly. We’re still offered plastic bags but at least we don’t get the “you’re-a-freak” looks when we say we’ve brought our own.
It’s been about a week since Rubbish Day. We’ve finished our Zoox training, we’ve finished our Green Fins training, we’ve done assessments and a clean up dive and finally sorted out our personal assignments and last night we ceremoniously emancipated ourselves from our Pseudo-parents Chloe and JJ (much to their relief I’m sure).
Stay tuned for more updates when we’re not running around like headless manuk!