In observance of the World Rivers Day every 4th Sunday of September, Senator Cynthia Villar recognized the importance of Las Piñas-Zapote River as a “life artery” for the people of Las Piñas and nearby cities.
Villar said that “while we no longer have a river as pristine as those in the 70’s, back in the time when the river is teeming with fish, the Las Piñas-Zapote River continues to provide for the city through livelihood projects.”
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the rehabilitation of the Las Piñas-Zapote River paved the way to social enterprises that provided livelihood to residents.
In 2002 when Villar was still a congresswoman, the Sagip Ilog project was launched. It involved the daily collection of floating garbage which continues up to this day. Workers were employed to clean one kilometer each of the river stretch aboard a boat made of PET bottles.
The water lilies collected from the river were also used as material for weaving handicrafts. The Las Piñas Weaving Center employed women and helped housewives earn an income. The coconut husks thrown into the river were also processed into coco nets for slope protection and coco peat, which is used as a potting mix and organic fertilizer.
The Sagip Ilog project won for Villar and her husband, former Senate President Manny Villar. the United Nations “Best Practices Award” in 2011. The award recognized the project for protecting water resources and for providing livelihood to Filipinos.
Every February, the Las Piñas River Festival was celebrated to mark the anniversary of the second largest battle during the Philippine-American War-- the 1897 Battle of Zapote Bridge.
Among the activities during this event are the drum and lyre competition participated by public elementary schools in the city and a fun run dubbed as Takbo para sa Kalikasan.
The senator also initiated the construction of the Las Pinas River Drive, a five-phase, 20-kilometer road project to ease traffic congestion and reduce flooding incidents in Las Pinas during the rainy season.
“Through this new road, we are certain of a shorter and a more convenient travel time for the people of Las Pinas and for all those who travel to and from our city. This road infrastructure development makes Las Pinas more attractive to investors,” the senator said.
The road which follows the curve of the river bank, involved the resettlement of informal settlers and clean-up of the Las Pinas River.
“We hope that through our projects that transformed our once murky and dirty river to a useful water system, we are raising awareness on the need to better care for our water resources for it to continue to provide us with necessities of life,” she said.
World Rivers Day is celebrated every fourth Sunday of September to highlight the many values of rivers and also to encourage the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.