“Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”

-  Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine)

Yesterday, I remember Albert, a member of our campaign team and the person who took this photograph, telling me that a lot of folks were terrified of the picture because they thought that was an actual baby floating in the river.

Thank goodness it wasn’t.

Yet, ironically, given the state of fresh water sources here in the Philippines, what’s in the picture might be a reality for most Filipinos who get their drinking water from rivers, reservoirs and other fresh water sources that are impacted by rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters.

That’s why last Sunday morning, a couple of days before World Water Day, we decided to come out to Marikina River to bear witness to a river that has borne the challenge of industrialization and urbanization, with a call for everyone to focus their attention to the protection of fresh water sources that are threatened by careless human activities coming from a combination of domestic wastes, which comprise majority of the garbage that gets dumped into our freshwater bodies, and toxic effluents from industries, which we know very little about.

Joining us were representatives from the local government units of Marikina and Quezon City, students and community groups from San Mateo in Rizal, and other areas around the Marikina River shoreline which is a tributary of the Laguna de Bay -- a source of food and water for many communities along the lake.

I believe that activities like this help us understand better the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world. And with the present state of fresh water sources in the Philippines, the need for clean water is no longer just the concern of a few eco-warriors like Greenpeace, but an issue that deserves the utmost attention of everyone. More importantly, the core value of bearing witness that Greenpeace borrowed from the Quakers also brings us face-to-face with our obligation to take action according to our conscience: to expose problems, offer solutions and show alternatives that would be beneficial for the environment.

Celebrated every March 22, World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, because water is a basic requirement for all life, yet water resources are facing increasing demands from, and competition among, users.

It is a unique occasion to remind everybody that solutions are possible. This year’s theme, Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge, aims to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively engage in addressing the challenges of urban water management.

It is important for all of us to be very mindful of our fresh water resources, because the ability of a society to develop critically depends on sustainable and sufficient supplies of high-quality water and environmental systems that safeguard our fresh water resources.

May today be a reminder for us to focus our attention on the urgent need to protect our fresh water resources.

Happy World Water Day.

Learn more about the Greenpeace Water Patrol