Submitted on 2008/12/11 at 9:34am
Press Release
Local Government Unit of Bulan


Bulan, Sorsogon, November 21, 2008


 The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) cited Mayor Helen C. De Castro of Bulan, Sorsogon as one of the Most Outstanding Mayors in the Philippines in the area of ecological protection during the League’s 2008 General Assembly at the Manila Hotel on November 19-21, 2008. Vice-President Noli De Castro, representing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presented Mayor De Castro a Special LMP Medallion and a Plaque of Commendation for her efforts.

In 2004, Mayor De Castro, full of vision and zeal for the environment, launched her Solid Waste Management Program, and this led to the institutionalization of the town’s annual Feast of the Mountains and the establishment of the Bulan Ecological Park out of the once municipal garbage site. This site is now becoming a model for other communities.. Early this year, the Municipality of Bulan was awarded the GO-FAR award by no less than DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno. Bulan is now a replicating LGU nationwide. Last year, Bulan was a Saringaya Awardee of Bicol. It can be recalled that the De Castro Administration, since the time of former mayor Guillermo De Castro, has already been a consistent winner in regional and national awards on the environment. The incumbent mayor is continuing this legacy.

The LMP is composed of all the more than 1,500 municipalities in the country, represented by their mayors. This year’s general assembly feted about twenty municipalities with trailblazing and innovative programs, and Bulan is one of them. (PIO, T. Gilana)


  1. This is truly an achievement that is perhaps only possible to happen in Bulan, hence an original Bulan creation this Ecopark. But I think this has generated mix feelings among some people- this idea of a garbage site and ecopark all in one place. It’s like being in a restaurant and be served coffee and dessert and be expected to enjoy it with your table still uncleared, i.e., with all the chicken bones, fish skeletons, crabs shells, patis, etc. of your meal still in front of you gathered in a heap! But this is just a spontaneous association to this unusual combination of waste dumpsite (natural decaying process breeds flies and mosquitoes, and pollutes the environment, namely the air, rivers and underground water supplies) and ecopark, not to be understood as destructive criticism to the efforts and creativity of our local officials in Bulan. But still that doesn’t prevent our readers to ask how in the world can you establish an ecopark in the midst of garbage piles and avoid the health risks from garbage and “there camp-out, play traditional games, fly kites, watch environment films, dine, dance through the morning, hear Mass and then, most importantly, to plant trees in a 14.5 hectare garbage site and help contribute to avert global warming” ?- as stated in the following LGU-Bulan Press Release posted by Tony Boy here in Bulan Observer:

    ” Press Release


    Bulan, Sorsogon, Bicol Region: Thousands of residents, many of whom were young people, trooped to the Bulan Ecological Park, at Barangay Calomagon to observe and celebrate the town’s fifth annual Fiesta Sa Kabubudlan (Feast of the Mountains) on October 3 and 4, and there camp-out, play traditional games, fly kites, watch environment films, dine, dance through the morning, hear Mass and then, most importantly, to plant trees in a 14.5 hectare garbage site and help contribute to avert global warming

    But what is amazing is that the controlled garbage site is also an Ecopark, thanks to the efforts initiated by its Lady Mayor Helen C. De Castro, who also started in 2004 this unique but very festive annual activity, different from the rest, to draw people in doing something for the environment.

    The Bulan Ecological Park is now being frequented by many environmentalist groups from various LGUs, organizations, student and youth groups ( one coming from UP) to learn how an ecopark can be established in the midst of garbage piles. Lessons on the environment can be learned from it.

    During this year’s Fiesta, Bulan Town has been awarded by DILG GO-FAR as a Model LGU on Solid Waste Management Program. Its SWM program can now be replicated and adapted by other local governments from all over the country. It has also been recognized as a Bicol Regional Saringgaya Awardee for its ecological programs. In the late nineties, during the administration of the lady mayor’s husband, the town had been one of the consistent finalists in the Gawad Kapaligiran Award, and had been in the Regional Hall of Fame on Ecology. (PIO-LGU Bulan)”

    I highlighted the following key words in this report which sound very positive and promising, namely:

    Feast of the Mountains – It is good work to honor our mountains in Bulan. Hence the credit goes to Mayor De Castro for initiating this festive activity. This highten our consciousness and strengthen our connectedness to the physical frame which defines Bulan from the rest. These mountains have nurtured and protected us since the beginning of time. It is just natural for us to pay tribute to these mountains.
    plant trees – This is what we need to show to the mountains our respect to them. This must be done by every one in Bulan, regardless of political color and social status.
    festive annual activity- The social component of honoring our mountains. Being held annualy, it is guaranteed that the tree planting activity will be continued at least yearly.
    Bulan Ecological Park – An Ecological Park is a very modern sounding concept that is appreciated by all, stimulates the curiosity of people from other places. It is costly to develope and maintain it but it pays off in the end- for our faunas and floras – when properly designed. Our young children in Bulan are proud to have good thing done for them by our local officials.
    Model LGU on Solid Waste Management Program– This is a good reward for Bulan. But the Solid waste Management in itself needs further technical description for our online readers to understand. So it would be good to publish any technical documentation of it.
    replicated – This is the argument that calls for a proper technical documentation of this program so that others who are copying it have the proper guidelines.
    and adapted by other LGUs from all over the country– This is good advertisement for Bulan. If Bulan’s Municipal Environment Office and Solid Waste Management -Technical Working Group could substantiate this with the said technical documentation maybe other countries would avail of it and start implementing the Bulan Concept of Ecopark/Solid Waste Management.
    Regional Hall of Fame on Ecology – This should continue like this to firmly establish that environmental consciosness and reflex in our people. By reflex I mean this automatism or habit like not to throw but rather to pick up litters or properly dispose wastes in their households. The word Hall Of fame On Ecology is to be understood within the Philippine/Bicol context or criteria for otherwise this sounds so daring or presumptous.

    Mayor De Castro’s personal commitment to Environmental Awareness is summarized in her 2007 Report under ENVIRONMENT O KAPALIBUTAN which is reproduced hereunder. I greatly appreciate in this case what she’s doing with Bulan’s environment at least on the mountain side and hope that this is the beginning of sincere ecological politics in Bulan. However, let us not forget the other side of Bulan, the seaside, for it is also a vital part of our ecology which requires equal sincere attention and the necessary protection. On the other hand, we are cognizant of the reports now circulating that Bulan seashore is now sack by sack being transported to China, sacks containing this black magnetic sand which is supposedly becoming a lucrative business for some few people in the government. This should be stopped immediately. The Bulan seashore and all other things that belong to it is the property of the Philippines and of Bulan, not of any private or public person nor of any government administration. Again, we should never own anything that doesn’t belong to us. This is an abuse of our resources, a crime against nature and against the people of Bulan, and therefore must be stopped and the perpetrators be exposed and be punished accordingly. Here’s the mayor’s report on Environment:

    I-report ko na man tabi niyan an sa Programa nato sa Environment o Kapalibutan.
    Una, gusto ko gihapon pasalamatan an entero na taga-Bulan , nan sa iyo ko ialay an pagkagana nato san Saringgaya Award san nakaagi na taon. Siempre dire man ini mangyayari kun dire dahil sa iyo. An Regional Saringgaya Award mao an inhahatag sa sayo na bungto na dianis an programa sa pag-ataman sa Kapalibutan. Entero tabi kita responsable nan may kargo sa pag preserbar san ato kapalibutan. Ini an buhay nato na mga tawo. Kaya ngani, pokus san atensiyon ko an maenganyar entero, lalo na sa sektor san kabatan-an na magkaigua kirita sin pagkamangno manungod sa bagay na ini. Sa bilog na kinab-an, haros an entero na nasyones niyan nagkakadali na maibitaran ini na insasabi na Global warming. Didi sa Sorsogon, sayo na siguro an municipio nato na labi-labi an pag aktibar para sa Environment Awareness.Sa niyan, nag-krear na kita sin separado na Municipal Environment Office na mao an nag-iimplementar san entero na programa sa kapalibutan segun sa palisiya san ako administrasyon.
    Huyaa an mga naging aktibidades nato sa Environment Program. San Hulyo, in-reorganisar nato an Solid Waste Management -Technical Working Group basi maregulate nato sin husto an mga plano para sa environment programs. Sa grupo na ini in-endorso ko na an pagplano nan pag-implementar san mga environment activities.
    Sa danon san Environment Office, nag-tree planting activity an Sigma Lambda Phi Fraternity didto sa Calomagon Ecopark. Nagkondukta man kita sin sayo na Environment Forum para sa Bulan North District Teachers and Pupils. Nagkaigua sin mga contest pangkapalibutan.. Nagkondukta man sin Demo on Carbonized Rice Hull making sa Eco park.
    San Septyembre, Inotro gihapon nato an sayo na Environm,ent Forum sa Obrero Elementary School nan an Bulan National High School YES Group; nagkondukta man kita sin Orientation on Global Warming sa Immaculate Conception Learning Center; nan Demo on Vermi Composting sa Ecopark;

    An pinakadako na aktibidad sa taon na ini inhimo ta san Oktubre 5-6, durante san ato ikaopat na Fiesta sa Kabubudlan didto sa Calomagon Ecopark. Inatenderan ini sin rinibo na mga estudyante, barangay oficials, mga grupo sibiko, NGOs, youth organizations, nan media. Durante san Fiesta sa Kabubudlan, nagkaigua kita sin mga treeplanting activities, Environment Forum, Orientation on Global Warming, Demo/Trainings sa manlaen-laen na waste recycling and re-use; nagkaigua man sin misa nan padisco sa mga participants san sira didto mag-camp out. Nan kaupod na aktibidad an BandFest o Musikalikasan didi sa Freedom Park sa Poblacion. Mismo an saato Gobernadora Sally Lee , nan mga bisita hale sa DILG nan PNOC, nag-kaorogma sa hinimo ta na dati dumpsite niyan sayo na na ecopark na puwede pasyaran.
    Ini na tabi an ikaopat na selebrasyon san Fiesta sa Kabubudlan. In-maw-ot ko talaga na maging institutionalized na ini na activity sa paagi sin sayo ordinansa san ato Sangguniang Bayan.
    Maw-ot ko na dire lang sa Ecopark magkaigua sin Fiesta sa Kabubudlan kundi sa entero na parte san Bulan, kun umabot youn na panahon. Dapat na magka-interes an entero na Bulanenyo sa pag-ataman san kapalibutan. Himuon ta tabi na tradisyon sa Bulan ini na Fiesta sa Kabubudlan.
    Niyan na nakaagi na Nobyembre, nan sa Bulan san Disyembre, an mga Boy nan Girl Scouts san Bulan North nan an JP Laurel Elementary School naman an nag-etender sa ato Environment Forum. May Green Philippines Activity nan tree planting activity man an mga taga-Bulan National High School nan an Tau Gamma Fraternity. De Castro.”

    Again, highlighted keywords sound very positive and actually amazing amd are telling us that good things are happening also in Bulan. Good intentions are always rewarded in the end and the people are then motivated to participate when they know that their government is doing its best during the whole period that it is madated to serve and administer the town.

    Back to garbage, we know that it is an issue that concerns all, young and old, rich or poor. To ‘dump where you please’ is no longer acceptable in our modern thinking. Residential, commercial and industrial wastes pose a tremendous health and environmental risk if not properly disposed, hence the term Garbage management. If we would really want to follow the examples of other countries who are leading in their technology of waste management, this would mean that in Bulan each household should pay for it either monthly fee or through purchase of official garbage bags which already include this tax in its price (hence not inexpensive) in order to finance municipal garbage management system and technology and be maintained. And here starts already the limitation since our average households cannot afford to pay and also the fact that our LGU’s budget is limited. I have researched the Swiss garbage management and recycling technology for several weeks, taken photos of its garbage collecting and recycling centers, huge incinerators and composting places as well as informed myself with the corresponding legislations and documents pertaining to this topic. Though I was aware from the start that it is impossible to implement this in our country,let alone in Bulan, I continued my study in the hope of finding remaining options that could be applied to Bulan at least. Garbage management is a socio-economic issue, which also means that the volume of wastes generated is directly proportional to the socio-economic status of a community or household. Rich households generate more wastes and very poor households also very little. This fact supports the idea that commercial establishments and rich households should pay more for their wastes. Bulan is perhaps exempted from the big problem of industrial wastes as there are no big industries there. Residential wastes are usually composed of food waste, scrap metal, cans, glass, paper, plastics (polyethylene), cloth and toxic waste (old batteries) and used oil. Commercial wastes are the same as the residential but perhaps a little bigger in volume in some group of waste products. It is interesting in this respect to ask how many metric tons of garbage per day, month and year does Bulan generate and actuallly land in Calomagon dumpsite, assuming that these wastes are regularly collected by the municipal waste management department, and how many tons of recyclable solid waste materials such as plastics, papers and metals are collected and transported to appropriate recycling centers somewhere else.

    Another important thing to know is the degree of the citizens’ awareness of the meaning of proper waste disposal and segregation for without this awareness all these bins and trash cans placed all over Bulan would be useless.There should be designated disposal sites in Bulan for otherwise garbage will be strewn and dumped at random. Reinforcing this awareness are proper legislation and schooling activities for all levels of citizens as already mentioned by Mayor De Castro and they should be regulary undertaken. This is a very important aspect- this frequency and intensity of awareness schooling for here lies the failure or succeess of the program. One must know that even in countries already very advanced in waste management and high citizens’ awareness, the government never stop in researching for more better waste management technologies and in educating their citizens in this respect.

    Disposal Methods:

    I searched the web for this topic and reprinted here the one I like from wikipedia. It is in summary form designed for easy reading.

    But of all the methods here listed, the most practical way to solve heaps of garbage from accumulating is to avoid producing garbage by using more and more re-usable and re-cyclable materials and utensils. In a town like Bulan without advanced waste management program and technical facilities and with limited budget, the most logical and economical way that the government and the people can do is to avoid using disposable products but instead use bio-degradable materials that can be found locally in place of plastics and other synthetic wrapping materials. The principle that local legislators should bear in mind is this: For Bulan to reduce wastes and protect the environment, Bulan should allow only materials to come in that Bulan is able to properly dispose using its local waste-management concept and local waste management facilities. Synthetic and non-biodegradable materials should be prohibited at the outset as long as Bulan has not the capacity to properly dispose such materials due to absence of modern facilities such as incinerators, recycling plants, technical expertise, funds etc.

    Here’s Wiki:

    Table 2 – Countries with high municipal waste recycling
    Country Recycling Rate Sources
    Switzerland 52% in 1998 (1)
    Netherlands 46% in 1998 (2)
    Austria 48% in 1996 (3)
    Germany 48% in1996 (4)
    Norway 38% in 1999 (5)
    Sweden 34% in 1997 (6)


    Recycling is the collection and separation of materials from
    waste and subsequent processing to produce marketable
    Recycling basic materials in order to make new products
    has several benefits:
    – It reduces the demand for raw materials by extending their
    life and maximising the value extracted from them.
    – It reduces the habitat damage, pollution and waste
    associated with the extraction of raw materials.
    – It reduces transport costs and pollution from transporting
    raw materials and manufacturing new products.
    – It saves energy in the production process when compared
    with the energy consumed in using raw materials.
    – It reduces emissions to air and water in the production
    – It reduces disposal impact (if more waste is recycled, less
    waste goes to landfill or incinerators).
    – It promotes personal responsibility for the waste we
    – It offers enormous potential for job creation. A recent
    study [2] suggested that up to 45,000 jobs could be created
    in recycling and composting if the Government were just to
    meet its recycling target of 30% by 2010 [3].


    The process of composting is one of biological
    decomposition under aerobic (open air) and thermophilic (at
    or above 70°C) conditions, which breaks down organic
    material to leave a humus rich residue, the compost.
    Compost is a valuable soil conditioner for both agriculture,
    gardening and forestry [6].
    Composting is an excellent method of managing solid waste
    with a high organic content (i.e. biodegradable waste) such
    as garden waste, kitchen waste, park waste, and even scrap
    paper and cardboard. 60% of municipal solid waste can be
    composted [7].
    Composting techniques
    Home composting Compost can be made at home using
    a traditional compost heap, a purpose designed container
    or a wormery.
    Community composting
    – Open/Open air windrow. Compostables are gathered in
    a large elongated pile (the windrow) and every so often the
    compost is turned over. An open windrow design offers
    advantages of flexibility and maximisation of space; on the
    other hand, exposure to the elements means that leaching,
    moisture and potential animal vectors must be intensively
    managed to avoid odors and maximize compost throughput
    – Enclosed/Covered windrow. Compostables are put in a
    covered ventilated container and leaching material is
    collected. Covered windrows offer advantages in
    eliminating environmental influences and enable increased
    composting rates in severe winter weather [8].
    – In-vessel. In-vessel composting takes place in specially
    designed vessels that control moisture, temperature and
    aeration of the composting process. They can maintain a
    rapid decomposition process year-round regardless of the
    external ambient conditions [9].


    Landfilling is the technical term used to describe filling
    large holes in the ground with waste. These holes may be
    specially excavated for the purpose, or may be old quarries,
    mine shafts and even railway cuttings. More recently, the
    term has been expanded to cover the creation of waste
    mountains even though there is no “filling” as such. This
    process is also known as land-raising [11]. Landfill sites
    produce landfill gas (55% methane and 45% carbon
    dioxide) which can be partly captured for energy
    production [12].

    Friends of the Earth opposes landfill for the 80% of
    municipal solid waste that can be recycled or composted
    for the following reasons [11][13]:
    – It wastes valuable resources.
    – It exacerbates climate change because when materials are
    buried, more fossil fuel energy is used to replace the
    products through mining, manufacturing, and
    transportation around the world.
    – It produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas which
    contributes to climate change.
    – It creates water pollution through leaching.
    – It can lead to the contamination of land.
    – It gives rise to various nuisances including increased
    traffic, noise, odours, smoke, dust, litter and pests.
    Energy from Waste – Overview
    Energy from waste is the term applied to waste treatment
    processes which use the energy held in waste to generate
    power and/or heat. Techniques currently used to recover
    energy from waste are varied and include incineration,
    landfill gas and newer processes such as anaerobic
    digestion, gasification and pyrolysis.


    Incineration is the combustion of waste at high
    temperatures. It uses a wide variety of combustion systems
    developed from boiler plant technology and also more
    novel techniques such as molten salt and fluidised bed
    incinerators [1].
    Friends of the Earth opposes incineration for the 80% of
    municipal solid waste that can be recycled or composted
    for the following reasons [14]:
    – It destroys valuable resources.
    – It exacerbates climate change because when materials are
    burned, more fossil fuel energy is used to replace the
    products through mining, manufacturing, and
    transportation around the world. Energy from burning
    waste is not renewable.
    – It undermines councils’ recycling schemes by demanding
    long-term waste delivery – Because it takes 15-25 years for
    a waste management company to make a return on their
    capital investment, the contract between a council and a
    waste management company requires the council to provide
    an agreed amount of waste for at least 25 years.
    – It produces emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulates,
    heavy metals and dioxins, all of which are potentially
    dangerous to human health.
    – It produces bottom ash which may contain heavy metals
    and dioxins present in the waste burnt, such as batteries.
    Bottom ash represents one third by weight of the original
    waste and still has to be landfilled.
    – It also produces fly ash (the fine particles and gases
    caught in the chimney by filter systems) which is
    undisputedly toxic, containing pollutants such as heavy
    metals and dioxins. Fly ash is classified as special waste
    (i.e hazardous waste) and has to be landfilled in very
    careful circumstances.
    – It creates very few jobs. The recycling industry however
    offers enormous potential for substantial job creation.
    – It is a much more capital-intensive and costly approach
    than recycling.
    – It creates more noise and traffic. Incinerators can also be
    regarded as eyesores.

    Other energy from waste

    Anaerobic Digestion

    Anaerobic digestion is a biological process in which
    organic material is broken down by the action of
    micro-organisms. Unlike composting, the process takes
    place in the absence of air. The residue remaining after
    digestion can be used as a soil conditioner and the process
    generates a gas which can be used as a fuel for domestic or
    industrial use. The anaerobic digestion process is very
    similar to anaerobic breakdown of organic waste in landfill
    sites but under controlled conditions. [1] [15]. Friends of the
    Earth supports anaerobic digestion for sorted organic


    Gasification is where carbon based wastes are heated in the
    presence of air or steam to produce fuel-rich gases. The
    technology is based on the reforming process to produce
    town gas from coal, and requires industrial scale facilities.
    From the end of 1998, the dumping of sewage sludge at sea
    has been prohibited. In response to this, Northumbrian
    Water has proposed gasification for the treatment of
    sewage sludge in its area [1]. Friends of the Earth opposes
    gasification for the 80% of municipal solid waste that can
    be recycled or composted because it wastes valuable
    resources, contributes to climate change and provides very
    few jobs.


    In this treatment, carbon based wastes are heated in the
    absence of air to produce a mixture of gaseous and liquid
    fuels and a solid inert residue (mainly carbon). Pyrolysis
    generally requires a consistent waste stream such as tyres
    or plastics to produce a usable fuel product. Currently,
    there is only one facility established in the UK – taking in
    tyres [1]. This has been shut because of operational
    problems. Friends of the Earth opposes pyrolysis for the
    80% of municipal solid waste that can be recycled or
    composted for the same reasons that it opposes


    jun asuncion

    Bulan Observer

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