GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 Oct) – The town center of Tampakan in South Cotabato practically glittered on Tuesday night as the municipality formally unveiled its 100-foot Christmas tree made of recyclable waste materials.
Mayor Leonard Escobillo, who is on his first term, led the ceremonial lighting of the “giant” Christmas tree past 6 p.m. as Christmas carols played in the background. He was joined by thousands of residents and visitors that gathered at the municipal plaza.
Prior to the launching of the Christmas tree, which is considered as the tallest in South Cotabato province and in Region 12, Escobillo delivered his first 100 days address at the nearby municipal gymnasium.
Escobillo said he earlier came up with the idea to put up the Christmas tree to highlight the municipality’s campaign on proper waste segregation, especially at the household level, and their disposal.
He acknowledged that the town has a big problem with garbage disposal due to the lack of sanitary landfill and the segregation of wastes from the households.
These problems were among those discussed during an engagement with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu when he attended President Rodrigo Duterte’s state-of-the-nation address last July.
The mayor said they were warned by Cimatu to be serious in handling their garbage or they will be slapped with administrative cases.
Escobillo said he explored various ideas on how to encourage their residents to participate in their waste segregation campaign and eventually decided on putting up a Christmas tree out of their own garbage.
“I thought that since Christmas is coming up and everybody is excited, why not build a Christmas tree and convert waste materials into decors?” he told reporters.
Escobillo said he initially gathered the unused surplus steel from their previous projects and segregated plastic bottles out of the garbage collected by the municipal government.
These were later augmented by donated plastic bottles from local schools, which came in “dump trucks-full.”
He said they tapped two of their employees and a local consultant to come up with a design and eventually settled on shredded plastic or polyethylene terephthalate bottles as the main material.
Through the “bayanihan” of local government employees and other local volunteers, Escobillo said they fabricated the Christmas tree and it eventually reached 100 feet using an estimated 100,000 plastic bottles.
He said the Double “R” Construction based Polomolok town offered its services for free to help put up the Christmas tree in just one day.
“We were overwhelmed with this project as it only cost us a minimal amount,” he said.
Escobillo said he considers the project as a huge success as it mainly raised awareness among their residents about proper waste management.
“Our people in the barangays are actually excited since they will be using recyclable wastes as well as decors for their upcoming Christmas village entries,” he said.
He said the Christmas village, which will be set up at the town plaza, will be opened along with the scheduled grand unveiling of the “giant” Christmas tree on Nov. 8. (MindaNews)