Carmona boasts of being one of the cleanest towns in the province of Cavite. But for many years prior to this, Carmona served as the dumpsite of Metro Manila. Garbage from the metropolis was dumped into the 63-hectare landfill their community hosted. The sight of 80 to 100 truckloads of garbage being dumped into their town every week was not uncommon to the residents. Diseases and other health hazards soon became another issue the community had to deal with. Indiscriminate dumping of trash and a costly and ineffective solid waste management system only compounded the town’s garbage problems.
Residents thought they finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel when then-President Joseph Estrada ordered the landfill to be closed. But their satisfaction was short-lived as the landfill was promptly reopened following complaints on Metro Manila’s garbage crisis.
Carmona’s local government decided that instead of petitioning for the landfill to be closed, it would try instead to turn their garbage crisis into an opportunity. Thus was born “Balik Inang Kalikasan, Balik Amang Pabrika (BIKBAP)”. First, a massive information campaign on garbage disposal was conducted. A “BIKBAP Gang” was formed, comprised of volunteers from different non-government organizations, religious groups and senior citizens who meet every month. They go from house to house to campaign, organize eco-tours and slogan-making contests, and help enforce solid waste ordinances, which the local government adopted. It was not easy knocking on every door to encourage the citizens to do their part in cleaning up Carmona. However, when residents saw Mayor Roy M. Loyola himself picking up trash on the street under the pouring rain, they immediately sprung to action.
Carmona’s BIKBAP campaign focused on waste segregation from the source to lessen the cost. It also rallied people to support regular collection of garbage, composting of biodegradable waste, recovery and selling of recyclable material, and even to explore livelihood opportunities on waste recycling. In fact, garbage collectors get to earn an additional P500 per week, selling recyclable material. Women are trained to recycle fine crafts and sell them for profit. Composts made out of segregated and processed garbage are sold to farmers and horticulturists.
The local government has set aside P5 million for the program, a portion of which was used to establish the Carmona Ecology Center. The Center has now become a showcase of “good practice” in solid waste management in the country. Additionally, an Organic Demo Farm helps visitors visualize the benefits of the program.