Earth Day walk and a hop

I walked my way to the office yesterday to fulfill one of the suggestions I made on what-to-do to mark Earth Day.

It took me almost an hour to cover about five kilometers from my home at Matina to the City Council. I left shortly before 8 and was at the session hall in time for its opening.

It was a worthy walk for a worthy cause in calling attention to help Mother Earth fight abuse.

Coming down from GSIS Heights, my walk was immediately noticed by curios onlookers. Many who recognized me must have asked themselves why was a City Councilor walking and not riding on his way downtown.

Along MacArthur Highway, it became obvious to me the stench of vehicle smoke that has polluted our city. Vehicles of all types whisked by me as I descended the Sabungan area down to the old Venees Hotel.

Something was terribly wrong with our vehicle emission tests. Many vehicles that were inching their way up to Matina opposite my way to the city were belching black smoke.

My disappointment was quickly forgotten when I reached Karasia. It has no vehicle on display. Not a single car or truck to sell?!! I thought to myself this was a victory in our efforts to lessen polluters in our streets.

After Tulip Drive, as I passed by the rows of establishments from the Baptist Church to the old Palayok Restaurant, I recalled efforts in the past by the Matina Barangay Council to develop the front of this area into a park. It is presently used as a park indeed, but as a parking lot, including one by a van terminal.

Our city needs more parks with trees to help fight global warming.

A new gas station just opened near the Albay Compound. I chuckled when I noticed the coconut juice vendor in front of it had four customers lining up; the gas station had only one.

At the Davao City Water District office, the old Coca-Cola bottling plant, a banner proclaimed April as “environment month.” It is one of the most active entities in the city advocating for the environment, particularly protecting our water resources.

As I was crossing the narrow street after the DCWD, an old truck sped my way to turn right. It forced me to hop for a safer distance. It was the only hop I made in this hour-long walk.

Traffic started to build up as I progressed in front of the NCCC Mall. On occasion, my pace was faster than some vehicles picking up passengers. I motioned to a number of them to walk.

I made my first stop in front of the Ateneo de Davao Grade School. Teachers near its gate recognized me. I told them I was walking my way to the office to mark Earth Day. They clapped and cheered me on!

I made my second stop at No. 77 MacArthur Highway, in front of the University of Mindanao.

I saw a taxi stopped in front of it and its passenger dropped off two sacks. I immediately know that they contained metal scraps. Three other fellows were lining up in this place to sell their metal scraps.

This junk yard does a very good job in collecting metal wastes, and recycling most of it. Our staff at the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and barangay officials should study why our Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) are a big failure when private scrap metal yards like this are making a killing.

I went on to pass the busiest of this long stretch of the highway – the Sandawa Junction just before the Bankerohan Bridge. Near it, a security-conscious policeman caused my third stop. He greeted me good morning and asked why I walking alone without a bodyguard in tow. I replied that I was walking for Earth Day and added that I do not have a bodyguard.

At the bridge, I was lucky to chance upon two sand barges at the Davao River with people cleaning up to commemorate this Earth Day. I waved at them, wondering whether anyone of them recognized me.

I made my fourth stop at the old Coop Bank along Magallanes when a group waiting for some jeepney greeted me with “Nganong nagbaktas man ka Konsehal?” I again explained to them my day’s mission.

In front of the Grand Men Seng Hotel, I made my fifth stop to buy fried sweet potato. As the world grapples with galloping prices of food, here I am holding three sticks of what could be one of the solutions to world hunger.

I gave my thumbs up to the vendor who placed the sweet potato on a paper bag. Little did he know that this was a big thing for me! One of the ideas I listed in my what-to-do list today was to avoid using plastic bags!

No one seemed to notice me as I approached the final leg of my walk. At the City Hall grounds, no one surprisingly greeted me. However, as I walked near the City Council building, a group of television crew and photojournalists were waiting for one of the “news” of the day.

Seeing them indeed made my day. I know that this walk, a single step in “a journey of a thousand miles,” was a “giant leap for mankind.”

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