Estero de San Miguel is this year’s Gawad Taga-Ilog: Most Improved Estero of Metro Manila, DENR National Capital Region announced in a ceremony held on Tuesday, 22 March 2022, in Quezon City.

The waterway, situated at the heart of the city of Manila, vested 12 other nominated rivers and esteros in Metro Manila. PB Filomena G. Cinco of Barangay 412, Zone 42, Manila receeived the award together with officials of Manila City Hall led by Department of Public Services (DPS) Director Kenneth G Amurao.

Other winners of the search include Estero Tripa de Gallina (in Barangay 143, Pasay City and Barangay San Isidro, Makati City); Park Creek 23 in Barangay Marikina Heights, Marikina City; Polo River in Valenzuela City; and Zapote River in Las Piñas City.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna congratulated the winners. He also praised the search and advised the conduct of Gawad Taga-Ilog in 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 Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations - Luzon, Visayas and Environment.

Also present to witness and congratulate the awardees are Undersecretary Benito Antonio T. de Leon (Enforcement, Solid Waste Management, Local Government Units Concerns and Attached Agencies); OIC Assistant Secretary Gilbert C. Gonzales (Field Operations-Luzon); Climate Change Services Director Elenida DR Basug; and Manila Bay Coordinating Office Executive Director Jacob F. Meimban.

Meanwhile, the other nominated waterways, namely Estero de Maypajo in Navotas City; Sucol River in Malabon City; Ermitaño 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 were given special citations, cash prizes, and other tokens, courtesy of the program partners.

For this year’s awarding ceremony, DENR National Capital Region partnered with EMB National Capital Region; EnviroKonsult Equipment and Services, Inc.; Maynilad Water Services, Inc.; SM Prime Holdings, Inc.; and Water Environment Association of the Philippines, Inc.

Gawad Taga-Ilog, now in its second year, is DENR National Capital Region’s annual awards for barangays along waterways, with the aim of encouraging their greater involvement in the cleanup and rehabilitation of the rivers and esteros of Metro Manila.

Gawad Taga-Ilog, according to Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan, was launched in connection with the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program. She said that it was established “not to promote competition but to inspire cooperation among our partner barangays.”

“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,” Director Caancan said.

“We cannot do our cleanups and other interventions in isolation from one another”, Director Caancan explained. “What happens upstream necessarily affects the midstream and downstream portions of the waterway and Manila Bay, hence the need to coordinate our efforts”, she added.

Gawad Taga-Ilog is meant to address this issue by turning the spotlight on the best practices of barangays in river cleanup, easement recovery and protection, river ecosystem restoration, and community engagement.