Here, participants throw mud balls, also known as "effective microorganism (EM) balls," for marine environment cleaning and restoration. (Photo from the PPC Information Department)

Earth Day was marked in Puerto Princesa City on April 22 not just as a global call to environmental action but as a showcase of how integrated efforts can lead to substantial local change.

The city launched its latest initiative, “PLASTIKalikasan,” at Purok Seaside II, Barangay Bagong Sikat, spotlighting a broader, ongoing commitment to combat the environmental scourge of plastic pollution.

The event was part of the city’s eighth “Save the Puerto Princesa Bays” project. It showed a united effort to protect the environment that included government agencies, local communities, businesses, and law enforcement.

The turnout on a weekday, the city government said, reinforced the community’s dedication, with participants engaging in educational shows presented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Mimaropa and even a lively Zumba session, all aimed at raising awareness about the detrimental impact of plastic waste.

Regional Director Joe Amil Salino of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in the region emphasized the urgency of shifting behaviors away from single-use plastics, echoing global data from the United Nations Environment Programme which highlights the staggering scale of plastic sales and disposal.

“Nais nating iparating sa ating mga kababayan na ito na ang panahon para baguhin natin ang paggawa, pagkonsumo, at pagtapon ng mga plastic. Ayon sa United Nations Environment Programme, o UNEP, isang milyong plastics ang naibebenta kada minuto, habang aabot naman sa 5 trilyong plastic bags sa buong mundo kada taon,” he said.

“Sa lahat ng mga plastics na ito, kalahati ay naka-disenyo para sa isang single-use purpose o isang beses mo lang gagamitin bago mo itapon,” he added.

Regional Executive Director Felix Mirasol Jr. and Regional Director Felizardo Gacad Jr. also praised the city’s efforts.

They acknowledged Mayor Lucilo Bayron’s leadership in pioneering such initiatives and vowed to support the replication of these programs throughout the region.

“Today, we also celebrate the 8th episode of Save the Puerto Princesa Bays and the launching of the PLASTIKalikasan. These are all efforts for the circuit to ensure that our treasured water bodies and aquatic resources will be saved from any form of plastic solution. That’s why at this juncture, I want to congratulate the city government of Puerto Princes headed, of course by Mayor Bayron, our partners for initiating this kind of movement,” said Mirasol.

Meanwhile, the active participation of mining companies such as Rio Tuba Nickel Mines Corporation and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation, among others, in the PLASTIKalikasan launch underscores a promising shift towards corporate responsibility in environmental initiatives.

Mayor Bayron continues to encourage the residents to support the goal of keeping the city’s coastlines clean.

“Habang dumadami ang mga tao ay parami nang parami ang nadadala natin sa bay, pasama ng pasama ang sitwasyon ng bay natin, sasabayan pa ng kalat ng basura kaya halos wala kang makitang magiging tagumpay o success o sa hinaharap. Pero dito sa Puerto Princesa kaya nating pagtagumpayan, ‘yon nga lang pagpupursigihan natin at pagsasakripisyuhan nating lahat, ano mang katayuan nila sa buhay, ano man ang edad mo, ano ang iyong trabaho, kailangan makiisa ka sa minimithng ito para mas makamtan natin ang mas magandang bukas pa sa mga anak natin, sa mga anak ng anak natin,” Bayron said.

CENRO Forester Alexander Mancio and PENRO Forester Felizardo Cayatoc, along with representatives from the City Mining and Regulatory Board (CMRB) and the Provincial MRB, also participated in the program.

The launch of PLASTIKalikasan was supported by mining companies including Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation, Citi Nickel Mines and Development, Coral Bay Nickel Corporation, Graymont Incorporated, and Ipilan Nickel Corporation.

Based on records of the City Solid Waste Management and Oplan Linis Program, a total of 26,035 kilograms of waste was collected in Brgy. Bagong Sikat and Brgy. Bagong Silang.