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Lake rehabilitation bid highlights DENR-CALABARZON's Earth Day celebration

MANILA, April 28 – In observance of the 45th Earth Day, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 4-A CALABARZON and San Pablo City government jointly conducted with residents and members of civic groups a series of historical and environmental activities highlighted by launching of the Urban Greening and Rehabilitation Project of Sampaloc Lake at San Pablo CityLions' Clubhouse.

The project’s theme "Lawa Ko, Ibabalik Ko ang Ganda Mo" reflects the bid to strengthen rehabilitation and conservation of the biggest among the city’s seven lakes.

Sampaloc Lake was chosen to be rehabilitated and preserved since it is near the heart of San Pablo City aside from it being one of the sources of livelihood of the people," said DENR Calabarzon regional director Reynulfo Juan.

He noted like the city’s six other lakes, Sampaloc Lake is beset with pollution.

Juan urged the city’s residents and business establishment owners to help rehabilitate the lake.

The lake’s rehabilitation is also part of San Pablo City’s Tourism Master Development Plan and enjoys support of the local chief executive.

“This project is based on the Tourism Master Development Plan of the local city government. Through DENR, environmentalist Sen. Loren Legarda offered financial assistance for the project,” said San Pablo City Mayor Loreto Amante.

He assured San Pablo City government’s continuing efforts to save the lake.

Amante also reminded everyone that the lake will benefit everyone so all must exert every effort to protect and conserve it.

According to the mayor, they have allocated some funds and secured lots for relocation of informal settlers along Sampaloc Lake’s shoreline.

“The relocation was free so such settlers didn’t spend a single centavo,” he said.

He also cited zoning plans for fisherfolk and fish cages in the city’s seven lakes.

“We should assign a particular zone for tourism and make sure all sectors will equally be given a chance to benefit from the lakes,” he said.

The mayor urged people in San Pablo City to help in the rehabilitation work.

San Pablo City is the country’s only city with seven lakes, he noted.

DENR is the main government agency mandated to rehabilitate and preserve our natural resources like Sampaloc Lake. One of its initiatives is to plant ornamental and fruit-bearing species around the lake,” said Forester Eleazer Alaira, Laguna Provincial Environmentand Natural Resources Officer (PENRO).

City, History, Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office acting Assistant Tourism Officer Ma. Donnalyn Eseo also revealed other upcoming projects of the provincial government for Sampaloc Lake.

“We already submitted the Zone Development Plan of Sampaloc Lake to Laguna Lake Development Authority. This particular plan includes putting-up fish cages on the other side of the lake," she said.

She said there are also plans to build floating gardens since these can serve as shade and provide food to fishes.

"The gardens will also alleviate pollution risks and help clean the water,” she continued.

Eseo likewise said the mayor plans constructing a dancing fountain visible from the coastal area of the lake to really change Sampaloc Lake’s image.

"At night, we also plan to hold activities to encourage more people to visit the place. More importantly, the said fountain will also serve as lake aerator to improve water circulation,” she said.

Around 50 cyclists from Pagsanjan, Rizal and Nagcarlan, Laguna took off at 7 a.m. from Nagcarlan town hall grounds for the Earth Day "Bike Ride for Sampaloc Lake."

PENRO Alaira and Regional Public Affairs Office chief Gaudencio dela Cruz joined the bicyclists led by Nagcarlan's Team Padyakista and Rizal's Team Bulusok in traversing the 15-kilometer route to San Pablo City to link up with the other participants in the shoreline clean-upand tilapia fingerlings seeding as part of the Earth Day celebration.

Among such participants were officials and staff of San Pablo local government, DENR regional office, PENRO Laguna and residents.

Juan and San Pablo City councilor Karla Adajar led release of some 1,000 tilapia fingerlings into waters of Sampaloc Lake the survival of which depends on the rehabilitation efforts.

Capping off the event was the Commitment Signing where San Pablo City local government officials signified their commitment to initiate and engage in activities that will help improve and rehabilitate not only Sampaloc Lake and the other six lakes but the entire environment as well.

“Let us be heroes within our own homes by telling our children how to care for the environment. Let us be heroes within our own groups of friends by convincing them to exert effort to protect the environment. Let us be heroes within our communities by leading activities for the welfare and well-being of the environment. Let us be heroes for our own Earth for there is only one Earth; we have only one life to live, it’s now time to lead,” Juan said.

The Earth Day celebration is an annual global event which was started by then-US Senator Gaylord Nelson after witnessing ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

Since its inception, the undertaking continuously aims to inform the public about pressing environmental issues and show a nation’s political leadership so there can be broad and deep support for the environmental movement. (PNA)

LGI/CJT/PR/EDS

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