The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) has recognized the Estero de San Miguel in Manila as Metro Manila’s “most improved estero” during the 2nd Gawad Taga-Ilog awarding ceremony on March 22.

The Gawad Taga-Ilog recognizes the efforts of local governments in Metro Manila—barangays in particular—in keeping their waterways clean and trash-free, as well as their active participation in the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

It also encourages change in the attitude and outlook of Metro Manila residents for their role in keeping and maintaining waterways clean.

This year’s grand winner for the Most Improved Estero was Estero de San Miguel.

Meanwhile, the 1st runner-up was Estero Tripa de Gallina in Pasay City and Makati City; 2nd runner-up, Park Creek 23 in Marikina City; 3rd runner-up, Polo River in Valenzuela City; and 4th runner-up was Zapote River in Las Piñas City.

The awarding ceremony was also in time with this year’s celebration of the World Water Day under the theme, “Groundwater: Making the Invisible, Visible.”

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna commended the search for most improved estero, noting that it should be “replicated in other regions, especially selected areas of the Manila Bay regions.”

“This should be done to recognize the efforts of local government units, partners, stakeholders, and communities in cleaning, restoring, and protecting our waterways,” Sampulna said in his speech delivered by Undersecretary for Field Operations—Luzon, Visayas, and Environment Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna.

Meanwhile, citations were given to the different esteros in Metro Manila, namely, Estero de Maypajo in Navotas City; Sucol River in Malabon City; Ermitano Creek in the City of San Juan; Estero de Maypajo in Caloocan City; Maytunas Creek in Mandaluyong City; Lanuza Creek in Pasig City; and Tipas River in Taguig City.

Judges for Gawad Taga-Ilog 2.0 include DENR officials and partners who are professionals in the field of environmental protection, possess independence, which means being free of any loyalties, duties or interests that might inappropriately influence the performance of a judge’s functions, manifest impartiality, and have a sense of perspective.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline Caancan said the Gawad Taga-Ilog was launched in 2020 “not to promote competition but to inspire cooperation among our partner barangays.”

“Indeed, Gawad Taga-Ilog is built on the premise that Manila Bay is a watershed. All rivers and esteros within the watershed drain their waters—together with all the liquid and solid wastes from our households, offices, factories, etc.—to Manila Bay. Cleaning the historic water body therefore necessitates an integrated or ecosystem-based approach, from ridge to reef,” Caancan said.

In 2020, a total of 33 waterways were nominated with three barangays emerging as winners, which include Barangays NBBS Dagat-Dagatan and Bangkulasi in Navotas City as 2nd runners-up; Barangay Marikina Heights in Marikina City as 1st runner-up; and Barangay Lingunan in Valenzuela City as grand winner. ###