This program earned an Outstanding award.
Who would think that an ecological park that has become a source of pride for the Dumagueteños was once a filthy and loathsome dumpsite? The conversion of the dumpsite was spearheaded by Mayor Felipe Remollo with the intention of: (1) Improving and developing the area; (2) Reducing garbage volume through waste segregation and recycling; and (3) Providing housing and livelihood development assistance to scavenger families. The program was so successful that tourists, and local officials of both national government agencies (NGAs) and NGOs now regularly visit the park. It has also been featured several times in local and national publications. The dumpsite-turned-Ecology Park is not only a tourist attraction; it also effectively serves as an improvised landfill for the locality and a source of income for the scavenger families in the area.
The facility boasts of an aviary with 45 species of rare birds donated by city residents and other private individuals. It also has an orchidarium with 25 rare varieties of orchids, an amphitheater, a mini-forest, a grotto and a playground to cater to students of two nearby elementary schools. Apart from the beautification of the area, the physical improvement of the dumpsite has prevented the degradation of the Banica River, a waterway that traverses 18 of the city’s 30 barangays.
What is unique and admirable about Dumaguete City’s ecological park is that aside from helping maintain the environment, it also provides an alternative means of livelihood to the city’s poor residents. Waste segregation and composting is undertaken by 60 scavenger families, 27 of whom are members of the Balugo-Canduay Earth Savers Cooperative. For helping maintain the park, these volunteers get a compensation of P1,250 a month. A housing project to help the urban poor has also been undertaken by the government, together with the Mother Rita Outreach and Livelihood Corporation. Equipment and materials for making hollow blocks, which are housed in the park, were used for the city’s infrastructure projects and for the construction of affordable housing for indigents. To date, twenty-four families have already availed of housing adjacent to the park at a very affordable rate of P200/month.
These families were also taught to convert recyclable materials into decorative articles. Under the direction of the dumpsite supervisor, they learned how to manufacture belts, slippers, bags, hats, tabletops, mats, and other ornamental materials from waste. To further enhance the benefits of this undertaking, the Department of Science and Technology and the Central Visayas Polytechnic College were tapped to conduct skills training on the production of usable items. They then sold these items to tourists and other city residents.