Who says that there is no room for a filthy community to transform itself?

Filthy was the general term used to describe Sitio Tagkiling of Barangay Anticala in Butuan City. Officials in the area were unanimous in saying that before, residents used to litter their trash without any care for the effect to their surroundings and the environment. From their accounts, the site is indescribable as wastes were scattered freely. Their being careless resulted to pollution and they all suffered from it.

Their suffering from pollution is feared to extend even to its adjacent areas in Butuan City especially those dependent on Taguibo River for potable water. This small community is within Taguibo Watershed, located specifically at the upstream portion.

With “Class A” classification, the upstream portion of the river is utilized as main source of domestic water supply for Butuan City. It is distributed by Butuan City Water District (BCWD) to 48,417 households, covering around 290,502 populace.

But, other parts of this fresh water body, the midstream and lower sections, being classified as “Class C and D”, respectively are also used for irrigation and agricultural purposes. With its multiple uses, stakeholders felt the need to protect the river from various threats of pollution. That is to maintain its quality that will continue support its best usage.

At the forefront, BCWD collaborates with EMB Caraga and other government offices in educating residents of Sitio Tagkiling. Every year especially during the celebration of World Water Day and Philippine Water Week, the District is organizing watershed symposium. Concerned stakeholders are committed to make this a continuing effort until finally the attitude of every resident towards a clean and green community is achieved and will forever live on.

“I dreamed that one day, cleanliness will become natural, become our way of life, that even without any organized competition, we could still make our community clean,” declared Emi Torralba the Purok President of Sitio Tagkiling.

The IEC that stakeholders introduced to them became an eye opener to the effect of pollution that they have created in their community. Torralba labelled it as the turning point to change their ways for the better.

As the community leader, she led in organizing the “Kalinisan, Kalusugan at Kalikasan (KKK)”, their banner program, a competition that encouraged each one to clean their own backyard and beautify them. She said, that they had difficulty in implementing and managing it at first. But, they persevered until their target was attained.

No wonder that Sitio Tagkiling now became famous not only in Barangay Anticala but in the entire City of Butuan for clean and green program.

Today, you’ll see every household growing their own plants, mostly green lefty vegetables that supported their food basic needs. The creek which they considered dumping site for their solid waste is now clean. They fenced the banks and barred anyone throwing wastes into it. Barangay officials supported the community residents by coming up with an ordinance to sustain their effort. Also, their other milestone was the creation of a cooperative, which helped townsfolk in their livelihood. And inasmuch as residents already learned the proper solid waste segregation, recyclables collected were converted to cash through the aid of their coop.

The change was gradual, but residents now knows the basic—cleaning, planting vegetables and other crops, and valuing the importance of protecting the environment