Runners race to save endangered watershed
LAGUNA, Philippines – Thousands biked, walked, and ran early Sunday morning, April 21 to save the endangered Santa Rosa watershed, one of the 24 river basins of Laguna de Bay.
About 2,000 participated in the advocacy event Sikad-Lakad-Takbo 2013 (SILAKBO) to raise funds for the protection and rehabilitation of the 11,500-hectare Sta. Rosa watershed, the main source of water for the cities of Sta. Rosa, Biñan and Cabuyao, and the municipality of Silang, Cavite.
Held in Greenfield City, Sta. Rosa City, participants ran in a variety of races, including a 21K run and a 20K bike trail.
Santa Rosa City initiated SILAKBO in 2009 in partnership with the Save Silang-Santa Rosa River Foundation, Inc. (S3R2), a non-profit organization. The proceeds from the run will go to the organization’s projects, which include a University of the Philippines – Los Baños study of the ecological profile of the Sta. Rosa watershed.
The organization also launched a program called “Adapt a Kilometer Program,” where companies from affected area will maintain and rehabilitate one kilometer of the watershed.
Erlinda C. Creencia, Officer of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and head organizer of the event, said that SILAKBO was their way of celebrating the Earth Day on April 22.
Stepping-up to the challenge
According to 2011 World Wide Fund for Nature – Philippines report, the Santa Rosa watershed will lose its total water volume by 2020 due to excessive water extraction.
The watershed, which supplies water to about 570,000 households as of 2007, is suffering from wide flooding, water pollution, and emerging water scarcity due to rapid population growth, intensive land development, and landscape changes.
“Climate change will pose additional burden as it affects water availability and increase flood risks to downstream communities,” the report added.
With this alarming scenario, SILAKBO wants to promote environmental awareness among the affected households, schools, local government units, and private sectors.
SILAKBO is hoping that stakeholders will address environmental issues, such as climate change, by conducting tree planting activities, proper waste segregation, and cleaning activity, among others.
Big winners of the event were first placer Benjamin Kipkazi for the 21K male category and Louisa Yambao for the female category. For the 20K bike trail, Mark Dan Roxas took the first place for the male category while Irish Abatin received the first place award for the female category.
Four-year-old Irisha Celine Canillas, who ran in the 3K race, received the Youngest Runner Award. On the other hand, Josh Shapire, 9, was recognized as the youngest biker in the event.
The Sta. Rosa watershed is just one of many endangered water systems in the world. Failing to act today will lead to greater consequences tomorrow. Through green races like SILAKBO, small steps can add up to a bigger movement for a more sustainable future. – Rappler.com
Dionisio T. Pobar III, 19, is a Rappler intern and a Communication-Multimedia Arts student at Malayan Colleges.