It's a small step to save a river, murky, muddy, smelly, dirtied by wastes of unimaginable proportions.
A handful of residents of San Jose, Batangas would rather that they take the counter-flow in an effort to avert the death of their town’s major water resource.
Concerned townsfolk are holding a fun-run called ‘Patikar-Run Para sa Kalikasan’ on March 24 (Sunday) at 5 a.m. to raise funds in helping save San Jose’s nine rivers and rivulets that flow out directly to Calumpang River in Batangas City.
‘Patikar-Run’ is a humor-filled but rather serious take on the ancient term patikar, which is Batangueno for run.
Gracia Alday-Ona, one of the organizers of the fun-run, says Patikar-Run is a project of HASIK, short for a community-based movement called Halina’t Ating Sagipin ang Inang Kalikasan.
Ms. Ona says the movement aims to establish and maintain a simple, healthy and peaceful San Jose town while developing it as an agri-eco tourist town.
San Jose is a picturesque, historical town sandwiched between two cities – Lipa and Batangas. It is blessed with cool climate all year round and lots of small forests and hundreds of fresh water springs along its nine rivers.
Unfortunately, much of the water in these rivers has been contaminated with solid and livestock wastes. These bodies of water, big and small, have served as dumping ground of wastes that come from the poultry and hog raising industries that have ironically made San Jose the egg capital of the province. Some people also refer to the old town as the egg basket of the Philippines.
Calumpang River is the catch basin of these wastes, warns HASIK president, Gen. Jose Reyes. He advises that if Batanguenos won’t act, tragedy might await them like it did on Nov. 6, 1926 when Calumpang River overflowed, bringing the worst disaster in Batangas that resulted in the death of 300 people.
The high level of toxicity in the areas fronting the rivers has resulted in an outbreak of diseases, says Reyes. Commonly reported in these areas are cases of dengue, typhoid fever, pneumonia, and other respiratory ailments. Air and water pollutions have become ordinary in most places in San Jose.
HASIK, says Ms. Ona, hopes to rehabilitate the rivers and canals that dot the town, including those called Malaquing Tubig, Kawa-Kawa and San Roque River. With a target of 10,000 runners, Patikar-Run will be conducted in three platforms: 1K, 3K and 5K. Registration fee is 250 pesos.
In an essay, ‘Journey to a Dream (Please Pray For Us And Our Town, San Jose, Batangas), Sis. Emma M. Alday lamented the lack of proper waste disposal in the historic, idyllic town, the seat of the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph.
She writes: ‘Our air is dirty, our rivers are dirty, our springs are dirty, our politics is dirty, our town is dirty.’
San Jose is a first-class municipality with an annual income of 100 million pesos. The money comes mostly from livestock and poultry producers, who ironically also pollute much of the town’s waterways.
Supporters of ‘Patikar-run’ may reach Gracia Alday-Ona at 0917-530-6606.
Donations or remittance of payment may be deposited through HASIK’s account at the Bank of Philippine Islands, account number 009013-0853-71. E-mail the transmittal slip of deposit and the names of participants/donor for confirmation at email@example.com.