By: Wenceslao E. Mateo Jr.
THE PLAN for the Iloilo River of Senator Franklin Drilon is to make it a gathering place for recreational and cultural activities. Both Congressman Jerry P. Treñas and Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog have agreed to that plan.
In fact, works on the esplanade, where promenaders may enjoy themselves very early morning and/or late in the afternoon, are already in earnest at the Efraim Treñas Boulevard.
To get the project on the go, Mayor Mabilog even had to cause the demolition of a restaurant by the bank of the river in the area. And he did it in a stinging show of temerity to disregard political relations for what he believed to be in the public interest.
The owner of this restaurant was in the same ticket of his ally, Congressman Treñas, in the last elections, who did not even complain that this happened to his partymate. This restaurateur, who is presently a city councilor, had subsequently filed a case against the mayor and several others for “illegally” peeling off his restaurant.
Undoubtedly, the river, itself, must be the first thing that should give that idea of transforming the river bank areas into a wholesome place to go. And that should start off with a determined effort to clean the river.
We hope the International River Summit this coming May 30 to June 1 will be able to teach us how to really clean the Iloilo River from the experiences of other countries. We also hope to learn from it about how we can subsequently transform it into a wholesome place for recreational and cultural activities along its banks.
A clean river – in fact, anything that is clean – is always a beauty to behold. And what is beautiful is always interesting company, which opens to more interesting moments together in various enjoyable activities. For that matter, girls should not worry if they are not as beautiful on the face as a movie star. Just look clean and smell clean and you could even be more attractive than a movie star.
Where people can find peace and enjoyment in a clean river, enjoying the other recreational and cultural activities along the banks of the river will just follow with a binding force.
But how do we make the Iloilo River clean…really clean? One thing, which the city government is now trying to implement, is for establishments along the river banks to install waste water treatment facilities so that what pour as wastes from their activities will not so much pollute the river.
There is, however, a big problem with litters that come with storm water from the plains, the river tributaries and through drain outlets to the river.
I understand that the architect of this rehabilitation plan at the Iloilo River has a great admiration of Singapore’s major tourist river today, one of whose attractions is the cleanliness of the river, itself.
This architect even recommended it as a model. Because of that, he must have an idea of how to aptly clean the Iloilo River, with probably just a little help from delegates from Singapore.
Moreover, we should not only clean the river surface. We should also clean the bottom. Already, Senator Drilon has ordered a complete demolition of all illegal fishing activities in the Iloilo River, especially the fishpens. These fish catching methods gather silt and bury the bottom nutrients from aquatic organisms that feed on them, including the baby fishes that need to stay in the river until they are old enough to join their elders in the depths of the oceans.
As breeding and nursery areas for young fishes, the mangroves by the banks of the river should always be kept free from litters, especially plastic materials that might be mistaken by them as food, which can actually kill them when ingested.
When the cleanliness is finally achieved and maintained, then indeed the Iloilo River will be a wholesome place where to have our recreational and cultural activities along with our guests and visiting tourists.