Who would think that an ecology park that has become a source of pride for the Dumagueteños was once a filthy and loathsome dumpsite? The program for an ecological park has several components: (1) dumpsite improvement and development, (2) waste segregation and recycling to reduce the volume of garbage and (3) housing and livelihood development assistance for scavenger families.
The dumpsite cum ecology park effectively serves a dual function of an improvised landfill for the locality and an ecology park for residents and non-residents of the city. It provides a good showcase and springboard for the city government’s environmental program. The facility boasts of an aviary with 45 species of rare birds donated by city residents and other private individuals, an orchidarium with 25 rare varieties of orchids, an amphitheater, a mini-forest, a grotto and a playground to cater to students of two nearby elementary schools. Tourists, local officials of both national government agencies (NGAs) and NGOs have regularly visited the park. The facility has already been featured in local and national publications.
Waste segregation and composting is undertaken by 60 scavenger families, 27 of whom are members of the Balugo-Canduay Earth Savers Cooperative. Twenty-four of them have already availed of housing adjacent to the park at a very affordable rate of P 200/month. The housing project has been jointly undertaken by the city government and the Mother Rita Outreach and Livelihood Corporation. The local government likewise compensates volunteer scavengers who assist in maintaining the park at P1,250/month.
Equipment and materials for making hollow blocks are housed in the park. These blocks are used for the city’s infrastructure projects and the construction of houses for indigents. At the same time, the dumpsite supervisor has started to convert recyclable materials into decorative articles. They manufacture belts, slippers, bags, hats, table tops, mats and other materials from waste. To further enhance the benefits of this undertaking, the Department of Science and Technology and the Central Visayas Polytechnic College were tapped to conduct skills training on the production of usable items. The physical improvement of the area together with other related interventions has prevented the degradation of the Banica River, a waterway that traverses 18 of the city’s 30 barangays. Of late, selected barangays have started segregation at source.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 2000 Galing Pook Awards.