As one might be able to promptly observe, Taft Avenue could be one of the most polluted areas as it is also one of the busiest in the Metro. Inside De La Salle University, however, many expect the community to be spared from the trash of its outer surroundings. But within the four walls of a self-proclaimed ‘green’ University, the practice of cleanliness propagated must still be proven.
“It’s clean enough in a sense that it’s functional. Students and faculty can teach and learn from one another, they can go to school, so and so forth,” DLSU President and Chancellor Br. Ricardo Laguda FSC declares, referring to the practical aspect of the sanitation of the University.
While University Student Government (USG) President Jana Cabuhat points out with a more positive note, “Everyday there are janitors cleaning, comfort rooms are clean, we have water supply, and we have a plastic segregation scheme.”
Nonetheless, Building and Grounds Maintenance (BGM) Office Director Ms. Belen Aliazas assures that the University is not short of initiatives to maintain the cleanliness of DLSU’s campus.
The first concern of the University is the proper waste disposal on the side of the student body, given the location of DLSU in the urban streets of Taft Avenue.
Cabuhat explains that the dirt-causing effects of the air pollution the campus experiences is a variable beyond the University’s control in eradicating.
“Kahit anong linis ang gawin natin sa loob ng DLSU, madudumihan pa rin tayo [No matter how much clean-up effort there is inside the campus, we remain affected by the pollution],” Cabuhat laments. “The effort of the USG is to actually strengthen our system in waste segregation kasi more or less nandiyan na siya, it’s more of the implementation side.”
At the start of this academic year, the USG has been focusing on their Clean As You Go (CLAYGO) campaign and Zero Styro initiatives, claiming that these have worked best for the Lasallian community.
“It’s just a way for the students to be responsible, not just basically throw your trash or parang clean after yourselves,” says Robert Hechanova, Vice President for Internal Affairs. “We’re promoting being responsible for the things that you actually do.
At the same time, we’re also moving towards Zero Plastic, but in a sense that it’s more on the one-time-use plastics. As of June 16, we really worked with the offices to ensure that our canteens do not use plastic bags and other one-time-use plastics so we promote environmentalism,” Hechanova shares.
“In line with sanitation, we want students to understand how important it is to really segregate your own waste so that it is properly taken cared of,” he adds.
The USG is also working alongside Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services (AVCCS) Mr. Josemari Calleja in purchasing hand sanitizers for the school canteens, and later on, for other structures in the campus.
Furthermore, the USG and the Physical Facilities Office (PFO) are in the efforts of the full-implementation of waterless urinals to make them more sanitary.
“We’re currently searching on the urinals that we have on campus if there is really a need to make them waterless. I know that Yuchengco building has, and if I’m not mistaken, SPS. They use recycled water from our drainage system. So recently, there was a complaint na when they flush the toilet in Yuchengco, if I’m not mistaken, medyo brownish yung water. But the Physical Facilities Office attended to that right away, so they do regular checks about the filtration system, especially since the move is to use recycled water in these buildings. And based on the feedback and efficiently of these two buildings, they plan to branch out to the others as well,” Hechanova opens.
While the BGM Office takes charge of the cleaning and sanitation measures, one of their main concerns is the students’ safety and health. Thus, with the anticipation of more rains to come mid-wet season, they have taken precautionary actions against potential life-threatening illnesses like dengue.
Ms. Aliazas reveals that procedures are undertaken every day, albeit these are efforts that go unnoticed. Every morning, extermination insecticides are sprayed outdoors and in halls, explaining the strong gas odor some students encounter each day. In the classrooms, water-based insecticides are devices as smaller areas are advised to use less concentrated products. On the other hand, fumigation and fogging of the entire University area takes place one weekend every month.
Hechanova further adds that the University now requires students affected by dengue to report themselves immediately to the University Clinic in accordance with acquiring information on dengue-prone areas in the campus.
“They actually go through an interview where we try to find out if there are any commonalities, and such. But with the data that we have right now, there are no commonalities. So it’s hard for us to pinpoint a certain area, a certain course, a certain building because with all the cases collected, there are no commonalities,” Hechanova admits.
The USG is in the process of creating an anti-dengue movement database, wherein they can get data of the types of blood the students have for any blood donations in the future.
The University has also released a hundred cup-shaped trap devices mimicked to be a good breeding ground for mosquitoes, attracting the insects to fertilize inside the cells, but actually kills the eggs they lay.
“They’re cleaned for every two weeks, if I’m not mistaken; put in dark places around the University to attract the mosquitoes and, at the same time, we ordered a hundred more of these devices to be placed on campus,” Hechanova elaborates.
“At the same time we do have mosquito zappers around campus. The USG was in the process of acquiring new ones last term,” he further adds.
But alongside the safe grasp on exterminating dengue-carrying mosquitoes is a good sewage system.
“They clean the sewage at least twice a month. All our drainage systems are cleaned that often, it’s just that there’s just too much trash. We cannot clean outside the school because of the government. We cannot just go there and clean. So even if we clean any fixed clog in here, it becomes useless,” Br. Ricky confesses.
“Drainage system natin ‘di lang tayo gumagamit, pati yung Rizal Stadium at mga squatter sa likod ng DLSU. Maapektuhan talaga tayo kahit anong pilit na gaano kalinis ang drainage system [We share our drainage system with the Rizal Stadium and the squatters behind DLSU. We will be affected regardless of how much we clear our drainage],” Cabuhat says with regarding to the effectiveness of the sanitation effort.
Moreover, Cabuhat relates the sewage system to a more city-wide concern. The PFO, however, is in negotiation with the local government of Manila in giving suggestions on how to improve the effectiveness of the city’s sewage treatment.
Ms. Belen however laments that these efforts, although not futile, are not too effective. Adding to this concern is the nearby construction work, wherein the areas of concern are usually filthy and untended to, and water used in the development process become prone to stagnation. In spite of this, Ms. Belen settles the matter with the initiative of both agencies and arms to work twice as hard, and stay vigilant on areas that need more attention to avoid any unwanted incidents to take place.
Moreover, the University calls for the Lasallian community in being responsible and taking immediate actions for themselves in helping their efforts in maintaining cleanliness not go to waste.
“Last year, the USG did order bug zapper devices but unfortunately, students tend to transfer it around, and there are cases of missing bug zapper devices. So we really want to promote the sense of responsibility to not commit those acts, and hopefully, be more sensitive since these are school properties and they’re supposedly to help all the students in that area,” Hechanova states.
“I think we can do better,” encourages Br. Ricky. “We ourselves, and not maintenance, can clean, for example, the estero, if we want to. I think that’s where the community can be of help. We can reduce plastic waste, styro, so and so forth. Sometimes when I go around, I see here and there these efforts.”
And the University is also in need of the strong cooperation of the local government for them to know more how to respond well with these situations.
“We need to work closely also with the government, so we have to find ways in which the government would also respond. We’ve been doing it, it’s just sometimes there’s no response. Sometimes they come here for our sewage treatment waste. But for example, during the week that the monsoon flood struck, no one came. After a week or two, nakatambak lang sa STRC and sa Velasco building,” says Br. Ricky.
But with all the efforts the University is undertaking at the moment, Cabuhat assures a University’s promise to be clean and green. “[And yet, at this rate], we’re one of the most sanitary universities right now,” Cabuhat concludes.