Held at the biggest high school in the Philippines in terms of student population, hundreds of parents and students gathered at Rizal High School in Pasig City to call for proper sanitation for all to kick off the celebration of World Toilet Day, a global advocacy day observed every November 19 about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.
Organized by Manila Water Foundation (MWF) and In coordination with Manila Water Company (MWC), City Government of Pasig, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Department of Health (DOH), the World Toilet Day celebration rallied the participants to raise awareness on the environmental and health risks of open defecation and improper sanitation practices.
“As the corporate social arm of the Manila Water enterprise, Manila Water Foundation is advancing its core advocacy of WASH or Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene throughout the country. A major thrust of our advocacy is the promotion of sanitation for all where we focus our initiatives on eliminating open defecation especially in the marginalized communities who should have access to safely-managed toilets,” said Reginald Andal, MWF Executive Director. “We want to raise an extensive awareness and move to sustainable action through the World Toilet Day given the adverse effects of improper sanitation to current and future generations as well as the environment,” he added.
During his opening message, Manila Water President and CEO Jose Rene Almendras emphasized the importance of “World Toilet Day”. He said such a campaign and awareness program is needed to underscore why everyone should value their "toilets”. Almendras added that millions of people in the world do not have access to decent sanitation facilities which are essential in the home and are imperative in promoting health and hygiene in the communities.
In his partnership message, Hon. Vico Sotto, Mayor of Pasig City, expressed his appreciation for the initiative and urged his fellow Pasiguenos to support the sanitation initiatives that would be beneficial not only to the city, but to the rest of the country. “Napakahalaga ng ginagawa natin at pinag-uusapan natin ngayon dahil hindi lamang ito para sa ating mga sarili, hindi lang ito para sa Manila Water o lokal na pamahalaan, kundi para po ito sa kalinisan ng ating siyudad, ng ating bansa, at ng ating kalikasan, at para sa ating kalusugan.”
Highlights of the event include Manila Water’s Advocacy Team Toka Toka, the first used water movement in the Philippines that aims to educate, engage, and influence every Juan dela Cruz to do their toka or share to help protect our waterways through the four actionable items: sewer line connection, septage desludging, solid waste segregation, and sharing the advocacy.
Louise Maule, WASH Section Head of UNICEF, also gave a talk on open defecation and health and will be expounding on the theme of this year’s World Toilet Day, “Leaving No One Behind.”
The Department of Health (DOH) also shared its programs related to sanitation and its effects to our health. Manila Water Foundation will also launch its WASH jingle, a song that encourages collaboration in achieving WASH. As UN Water puts it, World Toilet Day is about taking action to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030 in line with the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Sanitation and water.
Corporate partners brought joy to the participants of the event through their giveaways, including Gleam and Albatross of Philusa Corporation with hygiene kits and home care products; Orocan, with pails and dippers; FamilyDOC, with free consultation vouchers; Healthy Family, with purified drinking water; and Generika Drugstore.
Manila Water Foundation started its on-site celebration in 2018 in Quezon City, and hopes to spread the sanitation advocacy to more Filipinos. Aside from the World Toilet Day, Manila Water Foundation also celebrates World Oral Health Day and Global Handwashing Day as part of its hygiene campaign, Health in Our Hands.
Established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001, World Toilet Day was made an official UN day in 2013. UN-Water leads a task force of international agencies to campaign around a common theme.