Since 2014, the Mandaue City Government has been focusing its attention on rehabilitating the former Umapad Dumpsite which was left derelict and filled with piles of trash.
In the pursuit of environmental sustainability, Mayor Jonas Cortes spearheaded the development and transformation of the Umapad Dumpsite into Mandaue Green Learning Park.
A GREEN BEGINNING
The journey of transformation for the dumpsite began when Engr. Marivic Cabigas, head of the Department of General Services (DGS), was appointed as the landfill manager and was tasked to convert it into a green space where the residents of Mandaue City would be able to gather and enjoy a breath of fresh air. She mentioned that the first year was the hardest when she had to withstand the putrid smell emanating from the dumpsite and dealing with the different pests present in the dumpsite.
The first step to rehabilitation was fencing the perimeter of a 2-hectare area and levelling off the mountains of trash before covering the ground with healthy soil. After cleaning up the area, the replacement soil was planted with seeds of different plants and trees. This continuous effort eventually bore fruit as the once-repulsive land is now thriving with the verdant grasses and trees.
HELPING OUT THE RESIDENTS
The conversion of the dumpsite, although a positive change for Mandaue, was problematic for the residents who relied on scavenging as a source of income. Many of the residents living near the site were outraged when they heard that their only form of livelihood was going to disappear.
Engr. Cabigas said that aside from convincing the residents to find other and better sources of income, she was more worried about the children who weren’t provided with any proper education due to their financial difficulties.
To solve this, Engr. Cabigas tapped the City Social Welfare and Services to build a daycare center in the area. Fortunately, she was also able to find a teacher who, not only was willing to teach the children, but also understood their struggle as she used to be a scavenger as well. Currently, the former dumpsite community was already able to produce five student achievers who are now studying in Cebu’s Major Universities.
After successfully rehabilitating 2 hectares of the 10-hectare dumpsite, the government proceeded with expanding the levelling off of garbage to more than just two meters. This action prompted them to relocate the affected residents with the assistance of some individuals who offered financial aid to bring the residents back to their home provinces.
After the relocation, only 115 houses or around 500 individuals remained to help in the development of the eco-park. Engr. Cabigas mentioned that the remaining residents will be receiving one hectare of the land where they would be able to plant vegetables which can become a new source of income.
Currently, the previous 2 hectares of the dumpsite has been transformed into a thriving and habitable community with a daycare center, a chapel for masses, and stone animal figures for children to enjoy.
The responsibility for one-half of the total area was given to San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and the company has been assisting the project by continuously planting trees which is envisioned to become a 5-hectare forest park. Despite locals being skeptical about the cleanliness of the park at first, they eventually gave in and allowed their children to study basic education in the daycare center.
Seeing the success of the eco-learning park, the Mandaue City Government applauded Engr. Cabigas and all who were involved in its development.
“The Mandaue Green Learning Park is a great example of how are dedicated workers and personnel from the General Services Office were able to transform the hills of garbage into a cleaner, greener, and habitable eco-park,” a post from Mandaue Investment Promotions Action Center (MIPAC) stated.
“Environmental sustainability starts with us. Let’s continue to do our part by cleaning our surroundings and practice proper waste management.”
NOTE: As of writing, the Mandaue Green Learning Park is inaccessible to everybody as a precaution due to the pandemic.