Last April, together with the volunteer facilitators, Beau, our Toxics Campaigner, and I completed a 3-day Water Patrol Workshop for youth leaders in Marikina.

The workshop is meant to orient Filipino youth leaders about the importance of keeping our freshwater resources clean and also to underline the importance of citizen action in caring for the environment and the people who depend on it.  How can people play a more active role in water issues in their communities?

Our group visited Marilao River in Bulacan and Daraitan River in Rizal, looking at them as a study in contrasts.  Marilao was proclaimed one of the world’s dirtiest rivers a few years ago.

Last 2007, our Water Patrol visited Marilao River to highlight what goes wrong when we don’t take care of our water sources.  The river smells dirty and the water is murky.  But the truth is, what we don’t see is actually worse:  it’s been declared a dead river because of all the toxic load (lead, cadmium, mercury and other heavy metals) that has slowly strangled the life out of it.

Daraitan River, on the other hand, is still clean.  The video shows the value that clean water systems have to communities.  But Daraitan is also a lesson for us on how, even in small communities, we have to work together to keep our freshwater clean, and be aware how even the everyday things we do can impact water quality.

We want our lakes and river systems in the country to be clean.  And we plan to do that via our campaign and small bands of Water Patrol communities on the ground who can monitor, document, and report what’s happening with their rivers and lakes, so watch this space!


Haydee Illenberger is Toxics Campaign's Water Patrol Assistant at Greenpeace SEA Philippines. You can follow #waterpatrol updates on Twitter via @hillenberger.