Cathy V. Luna

Many of us are familiar with the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." The same sentiment holds true when it comes to ensuring that we all have access to clean and breathable air. Environmental equity is at the heart of our work at Clean Air Asia.

Formerly a landfill site, Smokey Mountain was a daunting expanse of endless garbage mounds, with the air heavy and suffocating from the stench of decay. But since its closure 28 years ago, what was once a towering testament to Manila's garbage problem has now transformed into a vibrant, thriving community. Today, Smokey Mountain is surrounded by around 30 tenement buildings, with some of them making up present-day Barangay 128. 

Brgy. 128 Tenement

Barangay 128 is a village of more or less 23,000 people in Tondo, Manila. It was the pioneer community for the implementation of the City of Manila's Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), a joint effort with Clean Air Asia, 3M, Manila City Government through the Department of Public Services, and Barangay 128 under our Asia Blue Skies Program. The program’s primary goal is to foster community-based actions for cleaner air and climate change mitigation, ultimately enhancing the overall air quality while minimizing the adverse effects of air pollution on people’s health. 

Brgy. Hall

Catherine V. Luna, affectionately known as "Cathy," is a testament to this transformation. Cathy is a tireless community volunteer dedicated to the Tondo Community Initiative. She has served as the president of her building's homeowners' association and taken on the role of community coordinator for the engagement project in collaboration with Barangay 128. 

Cathy remembered the challenging circumstances she and her neighbors faced. "In the past, we were surrounded by trash. We could see and breathe the pungent smoke coming from the mountains of garbage, reeking of sulfur and other gases." 

To solidify its commitment to ensure clean air for residents, the barangay council formulated the Barangay 128 2023 Ecological Solid Waste Management Action Plan, which defines immediate actions to address the community’s perennial solid waste problem. Clean Air Asia also continues to collaborate with the Hinga Maynila Task Force (Breathe Manila Task Force) on broader, city-wide solutions for clean air such as air quality monitoring, fleet management, promoting electric vehicle adoption, and enhancing indoor air quality in hospitals. 

Brgy. 128 Community Engagement

In her role as a community leader, Cathy has witnessed the tangible impacts of these initiatives in the smiles of residents who feel empowered to be part of the solution to air pollution. "We, as a community, would like to learn more about how to take care of our environment and ensure that we breathe clean air," her eyes full of determination. 

These collective measures are a reminder that even in challenging times, there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow—a breath of fresh air for future generations.