If the Dutch can, so can we
I write this by the famous canals of Amsterdam, soaking in the warmth of autumn in a pleasant 13 degrees Celsius. Calmness pervade through the ambience, making wellness rule the day. Like they say, God created the Dutch but the Dutch created the Netherlands.
From a town that was barely even habitable in the early 12th century, Amsterdam has since grown into a population of 821,752. With its expanding area and leisurely lifestyle, tourists flock over to the city of van Gogh and Rembrandt. And yet despite that, the locals still managed to maintain the environment immaculately, worthy of praises and definitely of emulation.
We took a canal ride and toured the city by boat, a mandatory tourist experience. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht are where the nobility, royals, merchants and traders lived and are historical world heritage sites today. We
passed by the famous Anne Frank house, the house where the Jewish teenage girl hid during World War II along with her diary that moved the world.
Looking around as the boat drifts around the city, I can easily see why this place is loved by millions of tourists. And as the boat navigates deeper into the city, my eyes feast on the pristine beauty that otherwise would not be there, were it not for the efforts of the Dutch to preserve the environment.
They didn’t rest in complacency, but rather, they moved in constant vigilance. They are increasing the height of their levies to protect their city from the negative strides of progress. They pride themselves in using renewable energy sources like biomass, wind power and solar power. Furthermore, they promote walking and use eco-friendly modes of transportation like bikes, trams, trains, and boats.
Looking around Amsterdam, I cannot help but think of Manila. Our Pasig River is dead and many of our canals and lakes, such as the Laguna Lake and the grand Bay of Manila, are endlessly polluted. Why can’t we clean them up like the canals of Amsterdam? Or like the Thames in London, the Charles in Boston or the Seine in Paris? Why have our leaders allowed our rivers, the life of our cities, to be ruined?
In the past, our forefathers would bathe and wash in the Pasig River. Our esteros were clean back then, and even utilized for navigation. I truly think that maximizing our waterways for navigation, like the Dutch do, can ease the deadly traffic of EDSA.
But what have we done to our rivers instead? If only we took care of our waterways and served them, the way they have served us.
We are already at a point of a climate crisis. We have been given a deadline of only until 2030 before the harm we have caused the environment is irreversible. This means that we are past the point of procrastinating our responsibility to the environment. It is time we put a premium on the welfare of our environment and the fight versus Climate Change, for environmental crisis is a national — even global, issue. With this, I call on our leaders to prioritize the environment high above on their list. After all, if the Dutch can, so can we. – ANTONIO M.
CLAPAROLS, president, Ecological Society of the Philippines