Kontra Kalat sa Dagat: Bataan's own heritage and pride
By William L. Beltran
Bataan (8 March) -- An old-age Filipino tradition called "bayanihan", where community folks work collectively to meet a common goal for a common good, best depict one of Bataan's most admired and most significant programs on coastal care - the Kontra-Kalat sa Dagat (KKD).
Launched in the province in year 1999 as merely a simple one-day clean up affair in observance of the then International Coastal Clean-Up Day, the KKD has now flourished into a colossal movement against sea littering. From simple beginnings, the KKD has transformed itself into a major catalyst for unity and progress in the province.
The KKD program varies itself largely from all other government programs that required big amount of funds to be implemented and sustained. The KKD, in contrast, is nudged by the spirit of volunteerism and values inculcation among its stakeholders - the community members, local leaders, private and the religious sectors as well.
It was never easy, at the start, for the volunteers to carry out the actual clean-up of the KKD. More than tens of times that they have gone through ridicule of teasing individuals while handling brooms, rakes and other clean-up tools and do the dirty job. Nevertheless, the tough and committed volunteers remained steadfast to their mission. And as time sneaked out and as the other community residents, who just used to stay home doing naught worthwhile, sensed that they also have a role to share and responsibility to fulfill in preserving the water heritage in their community and upon realizing that it is for their own cause, they began participating.
From a small group, the KKD has continually drawn increasing number of volunteers ranging from local officials to community residents, students, non-government organizations and even children. About 65% of the volunteers come from the fisherfolk communities, fishermen of which comprised about 35% of the whole province's population based on national census.
Some volunteers, even before long, organized themselves into small groups and did regular clean-up drive in their own barangays with the support of their local officials.
Truly, the program has delineated a new character for Bataan. The KKD practice has succeeded in inculcating discipline among community residents in the disposal of wastes and other refuse which resulted to an even easier facilitation of garbage collection. Health services likewise improved a significant level. Occurrences of diseases caused by filthy environment has much been reduced. This has led to the conduct of other health campaigns in the province.
For water systems, the KKD has helped a great deal in unclogging the waterways which reduced the risk of contamination of water used for drinking and other domestic purposes.
Red tide causes, which in the past usually plagued the province, had gone down. This has benefited not merely the marine environment but more specifically the livelihood of fisherfolks in coastal areas who are still into mussel and oyster culture.
These feats, to name a few, has gained the KKD program of Bataan numerous local and international awards for its successful and effective methodology in coastal management. Among these citations include the prestigious Anvil Award of Merit from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, the Philippine Gold Quill Award of Excellence, United Way International Award and International Gold Quill Award.
At present, the KKD is held monthly and quarterly in several municipalities of Bataan on the initiatives of various community-based groups in cooperation with their respective local government units.
The KKD, an original from Bataan, a practice turned into a norm, continues to live in the heart of the province. It has already been a part of the life of every Bataeño. (PIA) [top]