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NGO, LGUs and Environmental Bikers Call for Marikina Watershed Reforestation

A cycling caravan calling for the reforestation of the Marikina Watershed will be touring from Quezon City to Marikina City on October 23, kicking off at 6:30am in Quezon City and finishing in Marikina City.

NGO, LGUs and Environmental Bikers Call for Marikina Watershed Reforestation

As part of its year-long, pre-60th anniversary celebration, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) teams up with The Firefly Brigade and the city governments of Quezon and Marikina for “Padyak para sa Marikina Watershed”.

A day after the second anniversary of Ondoy, Pedring forced hundreds of Marikina residents to flee their homes once more, and the rest of Metro Manila to keep a close watch at the latest water level of the Marikina River. The overflowing of the heavily-silted river, causing severe flooding all over the metro, is due to the rapid deforestation of the Marikina Watershed with almost 80 percent of the 28,000-hectare watershed denuded. At least 25 million trees need to be replanted for the watershed to be effective in preventing floods.

PRRM President Isagani Serrano said, “Through this cycling caravan, we hope that we are able to raise better awareness on the importance of the watershed in safeguarding communities.” As a member of Resilience, PRRM facilitated workshops for LGU officials and staff to develop a masterplan for the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed. Resilience is a partnership of NGOs advocating for disaster-ready cities and communities. Together with the Alliance of Seven LGUs, or A7, composed of Antipolo, Marikina, Pasig and Quezon cities and Cainta, Rodriguez and San Mateo municipalities, Resilience promotes initiatives towards climate risk sensitive local development plans and budgets that will be crucial in preventing and mitigating such risks.

As part of disaster response, the reliability of a bicycle for mobility and survival has been proven yet again by recent natural disasters across the world. In Japan, the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and consequent tsunami led to damaged roads and blackout, halting public transit service, forcing the commuters to rely on bicycles, and resulting in long queues outside bike shops. In Haiti, bicycles were reported to have played a significant role in the delivery of medical and food supplies, and in the relocation of people to safer areas.

“Every household should have a bicycle as part of their basic disaster management kit. It will offer each household an alternative means of mobility especially in times of disaster — to seek help, replenish basic food items and communicate.” The Firefly Brigade Project Coordinator Mia Bunao explains the role of bicycles during disasters while Advocacy Head Ricky Pineda shares their own experience in dealing with the effects. “During Ondoy, Firefly Brigade deployed teams to bring relief goods to affected residents in Marikina. The residents were surprised we made it to their place… the residents we met on bikes attested that their bicycles helped them get provisions from nearby cities.”

Recognizing the vital role of bicycles in disseminating information in the communities, as well as in dealing with the aftermath of natural calamities, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Marikina City Mayor Del De Guzman will award bicycles to selected community leaders who are active in Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction activities during the Padyak’s opening (in QC) and closing ceremonies (in Marikina).

Padyak para sa Marikina Watershed is open to all bike enthusiasts, free of registration fee. A briefing on the caravan route will be provided by The Firefly Brigade during the opening ceremonies.

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