MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-five ordinary people were formally knighted as "river warriors" during the first anniversary of Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP).
Like squires in a knighting ceremony, the community volunteers knelt in front of police officers and took an oath at Paco park last week.
The police officers, in turn, dubbed them on the shoulders with rattan sticks used in Arnis, the Philippines' national martial art and sport.
The newly-inducted river warriors are tasked to protect and defend the Pasig river, one of the most polluted and toxic river systems in the country.
They underwent military training and attended lectures on leadership, values formation and personality development to help them prepare for their battles ahead.
|Training. River warriors wield their weapons, rattan sticks used in Philippine martial art Arnis. Credit: ABS-CBN Foundation
"Sila ang magtatanggol sa Pasig river (They are the people who will defend the Pasig river)," said Gina Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation. She awarded 13 of them with special "river warrior" jackets for performing well during training.
KBPIP, a project of ABS-CBN Foundation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, aims to bring Pasig river back to life in 7 years.
The rehabilitation work started last year in one of the river's key tributaries, the Estero de Paco, where more than 1,200 families of informal settlers have already been relocated to Bayanijuan sa Southville 7 in Calauan, Laguna.
With the success in Estero de Paco, the KBPIP team is set to take on the rehabilitation of the San Juan and Marikina rivers this year. -- Karen Flores, abs-cbnNEWS.com
abs-cbnNEWS.com is the online news department of ABS-CBN Interactive Inc., a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.