Former rebels in Palawan have started benefiting from the greywater filtration system that they have learned from the Marines to irrigate vegetable home gardens and small domesticated animal pens during the dry season.
Capt. Orchie Bobis, the spokesperson of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3Mbde), said the filtration system uses wastewater collected from the activities in their headquarters except those from their toilets.
The idea is to allow the former rebels (FRs) to earn a living without depending so much on the cash aid from the government on their way back to the mainstream society.
Bobis said even before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the FRs that the 3MBde is supporting under the Provincial Task Force ELCAC are already benefiting from the farming methods they have imparted.
“Before ang ECQ ay may garden na tayo dito sa loob [ng Brigade]. Halos lahat ng nasa bahay kubo na gulay ay mayroon dito. ‘Yong mga FR natin ay sila ang responsable sa garden. In fact, nakapag-harvest na kami dito ng mga gulay dire-diretso hanggang ngayong panahon ng COVID-19,” Bobis said.
Bobis said that the person in charge of teaching the FRs on the employment of the greywater filtration system is Capt. EQ Tohoy, officer-in-charge of the Combat Service Support Task Group (CSSTG) III, whose hobby includes growing vegetables and other plants.
She said Brigadier General Nestor Herico, commander of the 3MBde, wanted the former rebels to become self-reliant, not only when there is a crisis.
“Naniniwala si Gen. Herico na makakatulong itong pagfa-farming sa kanila sa tuluyang pagbabalik loob sa pamahalaan kasi puwede nila itong pagkakitaan. Simple rin ang puwedeng gawin kapag walang tubig, lalo na’t tag-init,” she said.
The water crisis that most vegetable farmers in the city are facing is not a problem inside their headquarters because of the filtration system method that Tohoy has taught the FRs, she added.
Tohoy said it took him a week to teach the rebel returnees and to some of their troops to set up the greywater filtration system to provide water to their farm inside the 3MBde.
The idea is to make everyone be productive aside from teaching the former rebels effective watering techniques.
“Ginagawa ito kasi madalas walang tubig kaya naisip na gamitin ang wastewater o ‘yong tubig na ginamit panligo, panlaba o kaya pinanghugas ng plato para may magamit. Lalo ngayon may COVID, hindi nakakalabas kaya kung may ganito may pagkakaabalahan. Pangdilig lang ang tubig na ‘to hindi pang-inom,” he said.
“Nafi-filter siya gamit ang graba, damo, uling — mga ganyan, parang kanal lang siya na ginawan ng filter,” Tohoy added.
He said the project is also intended to ensure food security among troops and FRs receiving support from them and the ELCAC task force and to recycle water in an environment-friendly way.
In the time of COVID-19, he said learning to grow home gardens promotes the need for people to follow physical distancing measures to avoid spreading the pandemic.
“Dalawa lang naman ang pinaka-aim nito, una ‘yong magkaroon ng pagkukunan ng gulay kasi may garden dito sa loob ng kampo, kumbaga may food security kaysa lumabas tayo. Pangalawa, nakakagawa tayo ng bagay na nakakatulong para hindi na tayo gumamit ng tubig pandilig na dapat kunsomo ng tao,” Tohoy said.
“Puwede rin nila gawin ito sa mga bahay nila, mas maganda kasi ang wastewater na hindi natatapon, low-cost pa. Kapag gusto mo, laging may means para magawa ito,” he added.
Aside from gardening, the FRs are also learning how to raise domesticated animals such as goats and ducks. They are also now venturing into mushroom farming.