Rio Angela Belosillo
Kung ayaw may dahilan; kung gusto palaging mayroong paraan.
This Filipino proverb ignited Imus National High School (INHS) to act as it heeds the need to address the inevitable implications of climate change in the country through its school-based environmental projects.
Jonard Saria, INHS School Property Custodian and Overseer of the Green School Program, shared how their school was able to expand and materialize their challenging call to action despite the lack of modern equipment and resources through Bayanihan.
“Nagtulungan talaga ang lahat, kahit yung principal ng school ay involved sa mga environmental projects na makakatulong sa community natin,” Saria shared.
Likewise, he emphasized the significant role of the local government in achieving their goals to save the planet.
In fact, as part of its legacy project, the local government of Imus City led the implementation of the greening concept in all public schools, to raise environmental awareness and protection.
Through the initiative of INHS, Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi encouraged other schools to adopt environmental programs and practices through the Green School Program in the entire city.
“Gusto nating ipakita rito hindi lang sa paaralan, kundi sa buong lungsod na ang inyong mga opisyal ay may pagpapahalaga sa kalikasan,” Maliksi stated in a speech.
Modified rainwater collector from recycled materials
To aid climate change from spoiling the citizens’ remaining water reserves, the city mayor initially planned to build large rainwater harvesters around the city to conserve rainwater.
However, each school would need to spend a large amount on purchasing complete rain harvester systems.
Because of this, Arturo P. Rosaroso Jr., INHS Principal IV, invested in welding machines; with the help of Jonard Saria, INHS Property Custodian, together with the Civil Security Unit (CSU) personnel who are skilled in welding, they devised their own effective and low-cost modified water harvesters using recycled materials, instead.
“May mga CSU personnel kasi dito na may alam sa welding, nag-invest nalang sa welding machines kahit medyo mahal kasi magagamit din naman ito for the future,” Saria stated.
From wastewater to clean water
With the intensified collaboration with the local government, INHS constructed Water Treatment Facilities to purify wastewater produced from the entire school.
The processed water in the facility is used as recycled water for watering the plants, handwashing, and others.
Aside from this, to maximize the facility, INHS also constructed a small man-made pond that serves as a breeding tank for catfish.
“Actually, nakakapag-breed na nga kami ng hito (catfish), once na lumaki sila, binibenta namin sila,” the INHS property custodian shared.
Sustainable energy through solar panels
To reduce carbon emission, as well as to encourage the use of renewable energy, the local government funded the installation of solar panels in INHS and some schools around the city.
Saria, however, admitted that not all public schools would be granted solar panels since some have problems with their school meter and school size, among others.
“Bukod sa location ng school, maaari din na mahirapan mag-install ng solar panels yung mga contractor ng isang school kapag hindi three-phase yung electrical lines nila,” the INHS overseer stated.
In addition, INHS’ solar panels gained an 8-kilowatt output from the second week of October up to October 30.
Eco-kooperatiba on financial and ecological education
Moreover, complying with Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the local government established Eco-kooperatiba to encourage the youth to protect and help the environment while saving money through waste segregation and recycling.
Eco-kooperatiba converts recyclable materials to monetary investment worth 20 pesos or more which can accumulate an annual interest of 1%.
Students receive a passbook to monitor their savings.
Partnership with CENRO
In line with the Green School’s advocacy, on the other hand, City Environmental and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) conducted programs and projects to educate students and promote ecological practices inside the schools.
CENRO carried out seminars and symposiums, where students learned solid waste management and climate change; Eco Tours, wherein Elementary and High School students get to know what a healthy environment looks like with the help of eco-parks; donations, where eco-plastic armchairs and segregated trash cans were distributed to different schools.
School-grown vegetables to combat malnutrition
As part of the Green School Program, INHS intensified the Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) department’s existing “Gulayan sa Paaralan” program and required every subject department to grow their own vegetables from their own gardens.
The vegetables and herbs harvested from these gardens are then used to supply the feeding program of the school.
With this, the school recorded a significant impact on the progress of severely wasted students in the previous school year.
Extending medium-term effects to homes
Meanwhile, to assure sustainability and long-term effects of the program, City Agriculturist Robert Marges urged parents to promote gardening in their homes despite limited space with the use of plant boxes or vertical gardening.
“Hindi naman natin kailangan gumastos nang malaki para makapag-grow ng vegetables sa garden natin eh, kaya nga may vertical gardening at homemade na talaga namang effective fertilizers,” Marges explained.
The city agriculturist further explained that executing environmental practices like plant tending even at home will help students and even other members of the family to assume ecological responsibility.
This article was written and prepared by Rio Angela Bellosillo (Student-Journalist) and Melanie Mae Moreno (School Paper Adviser) from General Emilio Aguinaldo National High School, Division of Imus City as a final output of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.