San Juan City cleans river with 'Mabuhay Balls'

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2021 05:42 PM | Updated as of Jan 27 2021 05:56 PM

“Mabuhay Balls" or bokashi balls that help neutralize toxic water. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - As part of efforts to curb water pollution in Metro Manila, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) together with Manila Water launched the Mabuhay balls initiative Wednesday, as part of the Adopt-A-Estero project to rehabilitate waterways and rivers.

Derived from Japan’s “Bokashi balls”, Mabuhay balls are made up of mud, microorganisms, sugar and salt which are proven to help neutralize toxic water.

“Para doon mabubuhay yung bacteria. So, 'pag binato natin siya sa creek, or maduming tubig, magdi-dissipate siya. Tapos, kakainin yung pollutants doon sa tubig. 'Yun ang effect niya,” Engr. Jennifer Chan told the media.

The Mabuhay balls initiative was earlier started by the non-government organization, Social Asian Institute, according to Manila Water. 

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu lauded efforts of the San Juan LGU to rehabilitate the San Juan River through the estero clean-up, as he directed the Environment Management Bureau to take water samples from creeks in the city.

A total of 1,000 mabuhay balls were thrown into the Maytunas creek, which is among five creeks that drain water into the San Juan River.

The San Juan river is about 9 kilometers long, of which 1.8 km is within San Juan City and the rest traversing Quezon City and Mandaluyong City.

“This is the first time, and this is really a solution that I was looking for while we can clean the water, we can clean the quality of the water,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief is looking to implement the initiative along creeks in Binondo Manila.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora estimates that results from the launching of the Mabuhay balls initiative will most likely be seen after 3-6 months. 

“Habang siya tinatamaan ng tubig, nalulusaw siya. And yung pagkalusaw na yun, doon kumakalat yung bacteria and microorganisms niya which will eventually clean up the water and remove the odor,” he said.

Zamora again urged all those living near waterways to practice proper waste disposal and segregation. He said penalties await violators.

“Ako, nananawagan sa ating mamamayan na maging disiplinado tayo at huwag magtatapon ng basura lalo na sa ating water waste. Meron tamang lugar ng pag dispose ng basura. Kailangan disiplina.”

The San Juan LGU is considering a livelihood project on mabuhay balls making, Zamora said.