Marissa Salvador-Abella

From Mutya ng Dabaw

to Mutya sa Saging Tindok to

Basura Queen

By ROGER M. BALANZA

Marissa Salvador-Abella does not mind that she had to use garbage as her ticket to the Davao City Council.

This even as being a member of the legislative body—she won a Second District seat in the last May polls—has earned for her a new nametag: Basura Queen.

In between her being a former Mutya ng Dabaw and being a member of the city council, she introduced herself as the Mutya ng Saging Tindok (after the title of an old Visayan film about magical powers spewed out by a rare local banana variety called tindok), to get public attention—and the votes—in her political speeches during the campaign period.

The former beauty titlist had always been in love with garbage even as she was the barangay captain of Brgy. Vicente Hizon before she took a crack at a seat at the local city council.

If there is money in garbage, Abella’s dedication to RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act earned for her the chairmanship of the council committee on environment and natural resources.

Being Basura Queen is pushing her further her dedication to environmental protection, which as a barangay captain gained attention from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

A strong advocate of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), Brgy. Vicente Hizon’s solid waste management program had drawn the interest of JICA, which provided funds to backstop the barangay’s MRFs.

Vicente Hizon was one of only three cities in the country to get the fund from JICA, which has a linkage on environmental concerns with the Philippine government.

To inspire her further, JICA sent her to Japan for a look-see at local solid waste facilities, the only barangay captain in the country given the rare opportunity.

Abella, as chair of the environment committee, has started to spend her energies on her advocacy even after only a few weeks as chair of one of the most important committees of the city council.

Last Friday, she gathered the city’s barangay captains in an Environmental Forum—-a gathering that would help her craft her environmental agenda for the next three years.

Supported by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Bureau of Forestry and the USAID-backed environmental group Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) and other groups with concerns on environmental protection, the forum generated enthusiastic response from barangay captains.

A highlight of the forum was the signing by barangay captains of the Pledge of Commitment for them to dedicate their efforts to environmental protection.

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