Management of waste or lack thereof, is not an original Filipino problem. It is one of modern civilizations oldest and it repeats throughout history. Most famously in New York America and in London England in the mid 1700’s. As the industrial revolution took hold, management of waste was not considered nor prepared for. The waste problem grew and rapidly began to deteriorate the urban peoples quality of life. As the filth built up in the city and attracted the vermin and the stench took hold, all due to lack of regulation and town planning.

1751 England Cleaning the city
1751 England people cleaning the city. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

It was not until 1751 in England when the first calls for the preservation of the peoples health was realized to be of such great importance, that some system should be adopted to distance the trash from central urban area. It was agreed that cleaning of the city would be arranged and consequentially the waste was dumped into the River Thames to convey it away from the people, sending it to surrounding rural areas downstream.

This continued late into the 18th century when the first solid waste management appeared. A collection of the choking coal dust was organized and it was recycled for brick making and soil fertilizer. This was the first established waste management and recycling system. Although it was only coal-dust, and 100% of it was collected as it was profitable to the ‘rag and bone men’ collectors, the other household refuse continued to build and put sanity and human health at risk. Late in the century as the demand for coal bricks fell, the collection system collapsed.

In the 19th Century as Cholera disease devastated the population, more groups began to lobby for further organization of waste and sanitary systems. In 1875 the first Public Health Act was established in London making it compulsory that all city residents place their trash into what was into ‘removable receptacles’ for the city’s collection and disposal. In 1895 New York was the first city to implement full public sector garbage management

Known as ‘The White Wings’ the Americans began cleaning up their streets.

New York City White Wings The White Wings Cleaning
The “White Wings” began cleaning up their streets. Courtest of Wikipedia.

That was 122 years ago.

Trash in the Freeport
This is inside Subic Bay Freeport Zone today
A Freeport yard of filth – just a few feet away from where we dine at a well known Filipino food chain
Trash at Rizal Bridge - Entering Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Accumulated Trash on the foot of Rizal Bridge going to Subic Bay Freeport

Of course the first thing we would ask is why, and who is responsible? As our President recently said “The Philippines is covered in trash” and fairly called upon local city mayors to address it with the budgets already allocated.

It is easy to point the finger at our authorities.. we shift the blame, problem solved. Or is it? This may come as a shock to the readers – The problem in most cases is You, the reader. We Filipinos have a terrible trash throwing addiction. At the rate we throw our trash into our streets and waterways, the authorities have no-chance of effectively collecting it for organized disposal.

It is an everyday sight to see someone un-wrap a snack and throw the wrapper on the ground without giving it a second thought. Even while sitting nearby rubbish bins at the 7/11 that may be only two steps away, it doesn’t occur to the majority of us that we could use that bin, that is – if it is not overflowing from the few of us that did use it in the 5 days since it has been emptied.


A typical sunset in Subic Bay as the tourists stroll our beach

Trash at the Board Walk - Near the lighthouse Trash at the Board Walk - Tourist Taking a picture
Sunset view in Subic Bay filled with rubbish

The solution is not of blaming the authorities or the shop and restaurant keepers, although there is obvious great room for improvement there also.

If you ask for example an esplanade shopkeeper or restaurant owner why he allows his beachfront to be trashed, he will typically say ‘that is for the authorities to clean up’. But so what? Why not just pick it up?.. then your customers or patrons do not have to look at it.

You cannot blame the authorities until you have yourself ceased from being a part of the problem.

Trash at Metro Manila - Capital of the Philippines
Our Capital City Manila – where our leaders reside

Solving our trash problem begins within… with ‘the person in the mirror.’ We need a deep-seated willingness to clean ourselves up, starting with making a stand and taking the pledge to never again throw my trash into my country.

If you have been to a beautifully clean country like New Zealand, you may have noticed almost everyone around is a ‘garbage cop’. If you throw trash there you can be sure if any Kiwi or even sometimes a visiting tourist adoring the country will reprimand you. You may hear them shout ‘Hey, be a tidy Kiwi’. It is a very long-standing very successful slogan in New Zealand that has reminded the people to keep the country clean and beautiful.

Success is impossible without the overwhelming cooperation and willingness of us all.

“There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first”

-Jim Morrison


Thank you
Pasay City Host Lions Club already taking action and cleaned up Subic Bay’s Boardwalk – Let us follow up on their example!


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