Around 8,000 volunteers have signed up for various cleanup activities organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its partners as part of the local observance of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) slated for Sept. 22.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the simultaneous coastal cleanup activities on several sites in Metro Manila, including the Manila Bay area, is “very timely” as it comes a week after super typhoon Ompong ravaged the country.

“Through this ICC event, we will be able to remove heaps of trash washed ashore Roxas Boulevard and other parts of Manila Bay at the height of super typhoon Ompong,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief expressed hope the upcoming event will “inspire more people to clean up all water bodies in the entire country.”

The event, which was originally scheduled last week but was postponed due to the typhoon, will take place simultaneously in various sites in Metro Manila including the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, SM by the Bay in Pasay City, Letre and Pinagsabugan Creeks in Malabon City, Tanza Marine Tree Park in Navotas City, and riverbanks of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

A clean-up activity at the back of Gloria Maris in Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex in Pasay City will also be conducted and organized by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region.

There will also be localized cleanups along waterways in the cities of Quezon, San Juan, Makati and Taguig. Manila’s local government unit will also be holding its own cleanup, in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines, through its Manila Bay Sunset Partnership Program.

Meanwhile, DENR National Capital Region Assistant Director Gwendolyn Bambalan said they were overwhelmed by the number of participants who registered online for this year’s ICC event.

“Everyone’s participation, either as a picker of trash or recorder is deeply appreciated as it will make a big difference in Manila Bay,” she said.

Bambalan said the DENR was hoping the data to be collected “will be put into good use, especially in crafting policies and other interventions that would lead to a trash-free Manila Bay.”

“Manila Bay is an important resource, not only for Metro Manila residents, but also for those who are residing in Regions 3 and 4A. It is important, therefore, that we are able to restore its pristine waters and former glory,” she added.

Held every third Saturday of September, the ICC began more than 30 years ago, when communities rallied together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their respective coastlines.

The Philippines started participating in the ICC in 1994 when volunteers were only 3,000 and were spread among six provinces to cover 76 kilometers of water bodies. They were able to recover 9,469 kilos of marine debris at the time.

In 2003, the third Saturday of September was officially declared as the International Coastal Cleanup Day pursuant to Proclamation No. 470.

During ICC events, volunteers are not only retrieving the waste from water bodies but also asked to do a “waste audit” to tally the items they find on the data cards provided during the cleanup.

Data cards are then collected and sent to the Ocean Conservancy for validation and publication. ###