By: James Z. Carpio


“Prefiero ser lampazero a ser la cabeza de su jerarquia cismatica.” – Bishop Jorge Barlin


In 1902, the First Filipino Bishop of Malay race from Baao, Jorge Barlin, was offered by Gregorio Aglipay the supreme prelacy of the Philippine Independent Church to such he replied, “I prefer to be a sweeper than to be the head of your schismatic hierarchy.”

I follow a European Time Zone so I am already awake at least by two o’ clock a.m. and I hear them in my office. It is close to the street so I can hear their Philippine brooms of coconut fiber sweeping the dirt into large sacks. The sounds make me happy as they make me feel that I am not the only soul awake at that time.

When I walk out of the house and go to a convenience store a block away to buy some snacks I usually see two women at opposite sides of the road tidying up the sidewalk. Mostly, they clear off fallen leaves but some garbage bags which were opened by cats, dogs or humans scavenging for treasures they could find are also gathered into the large sacks.

Then I am back at the office. I begin writing for Bicol Mail and I do my blog. Afterwards, I talk to my family in Europe through Skype.

Around four o’ clock a.m., I head out to do my exercise routine. By this time the official Naga City Sweepers are out and about doing their business. They have huge orange trolley garbage containers and they man their battle stations. It is an all-out war against dirt, trash and garbage. Nothing escapes their sight, they are specialists, you see.

They clean the entire city center methodically. Roughly, my estimate is that they are about a ten-member-team covering just a quarter of the downtown area. I am sure other parts I do not get to see are well taken care of by other super street sweepers. They wear orange outfits with caps and long pants.

Then the grand finale of the passing of the large garbage truck occurs, picking up loads of waste from every station.

One time I was already on my way home after an exercise and I passed by one street sweeper. He was wearing earphones and was singing. I guess it’s because the weather is cool at that time. Citizens who are sleeping are not aware that their beloved city is magically being transformed in the wee hours of the morning into a city with a clean environment. They are much like Santa’s helpers preparing toys and gifts in time for Christmas morning. They are the stewards of cleanliness and master caretakers of the environment. My hat off to them, bravo!

On the home front, we too are frustrated amateur sweepers. We sweep our front yards and back and sides of our almost three thousand square meter property. We have trees so fallen leaves are keeping us busy every single day. Other than that our home environment is spick and span.

Christians for Environmental Stewardship has this battle cry (and I quote,) “that is dedicated to reaching the Evangelical and Conservative Christian churches with a scriptural message of environmental stewardship. We measure our stewardship by healthy ecosystems and sustainable, responsible consumption. We are calling on all Christians to search the scriptures to better understand the heart of God in relation to His creation. The Bible says that God expects, even demands, that we be stewards of His creation. Scripture is undisputable. God created the different species of plants and animals, blessed them, protected them and made a covenant with them.”

To cap it all off, “Every time we, as humans, drive a species to extinction, we are stating that what God created, we can destroy. There is no scripture to support that view. Every time a specie goes extinct, we are defaulting on the account that God has called us to manage. We are at the crossroads, able to choose to save or to destroy. It is our choice. The Bible is clear that creation expresses God’s wisdom and power. Again it is reiterated and stressed that, Christians are called to be stewards, to nurture, to protect, and to preserve His creation.”

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