MASBATE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS FOR DEVELOPMENT

May 26, 2008

4 RP youths blog for the protection of marine ecosystems

Filed under: NEWS — Tags: , , , — maupodmasbate @ 4:21 am

4 RP youths blog for the protection of marine ecosystems

By Ephraim Aguilar
Southern Luzon Bureau (PDI)
First Posted 10:53pm (Mla time) 07/01/2007

MABSATE CITY– Four youths here have found blogging a chance to tell the world not only about the beauty of the seas surrounding this island province but also about the threats that could doom their rich marine ecosystems.

Representing the country at the international forum “Fishes Feed Us,” Ralph Cedie Fabon, 13, Kristine Yentyl Esber, 14, Soccii Nenotchka Tuason, 15, and Philip Joseph Alarcon, 15, all from Masbate, joined the exchange of ideas with youths from India, Malaysia, Philippines, and the United States on the global fish crisis.

The “Fishes Feed Us” blog (www.oneocean.org/fishblog) was a project of the Arts and Science Collaborations Inc., a nongovernment organization based in New York City devoted to exploring the intersections of arts and science.

It was an online youth dialogue whose purpose was to put a human face on the destruction of marine fisheries and ecosystems, resulting in the decline in fish supply.

The Philippine representatives, all high school students of the Masbate National Comprehensive High School, are leaders of the “I Love the Ocean Movement” established by the city’s Coastal Resource Management and Interpretive Center (CRMIC) as part of its campaign to promote the preservation and conservation of the seas.

The blog entries of Alarcon and Esber were chosen as monologues that were presented at the United Nations Plaza in New York City last June 5 for the World Environment Day celebration.

Esber, a third year student, said they had to immerse themselves into the community in preparation for the online dialogue.

“We exposed ourselves to the communities here in the province, which rely mainly on fishing as a form of livelihood, and we talked with the fishermen’s children,” she said.

Esber added that her visit to the coastal village of B. Lito in this city gave her a good knowledge of children’s views about the benefits their families got from Masbate’s rich marine resources.

Tuason, a third year high school student, learned from her interviews at the fishing village that since the city’s coastal resource management program started implementation in February 2000, there has been no dynamite fishing in the city proper, preserving the corals that served as habitat for the fish.

She added that the city had two marine sanctuaries–the Buntod and Bugsayon reefs.

Masbate City is known for its stringent coastal resource management efforts.

It won awards, including one of this this year’s Saringaya Awards given by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to recognize efforts and support of individuals and entities in environmental protection and sustainable development of natural resources in the country.

The CRMIC also received the two prestigious Anvil Awards in 2005: Anvil Award of Excellence for Institutional and Corporate Programs in the category of public affairs management and communications in environmental protection and the Anvil Award Merit for public relations.

Agriculturist Esperanza Danao, CRMIC coordinator-designate, said the CRMIC, put up in September of 2003, was the first of its kind in the country.

Through the CRMIC, they have been doing massive information and education campaign among the youth on the value of taking care of the seas.

“We coordinate with different campuses and invite students for eco-tours. In day-care centers, we conduct story-telling and film-showing for the children. For us, this is the fastest way to massively disseminate information on environment preservation,” Danao said.

She added that the youth’s minds and value systems were easier to mold so they gave education great emphasis in their program and campaign.

The CRMIC has also involved the communities in coastal cleanups and has deputized fish wardens and junior fish wardens, who were given training on integrated coastal management.

Some of the fish wardens were former illegal fishers who have since become instruments of environment protection.

“The students go out of this center well-fed with information and awareness–the first things one must have in order to move and be involved in the campaign,” Danao said.

Currently, other towns in Masbate like Batuan, San Jacinto, and Aroroy have started to adopt their own coastal resource management programs.

Batuan, a fifth class municipality at the southern tail end of Ticao Island, is home to the 168-hectare Bongsanglay Mangrove Forest Reserve (Presidential Proclamation No. 2152, Dec. 29, 1981).

Bongsanglay is the only remaining primary growth of mangrove forest in Bicol since other mangrove areas have already been replanted.

Here can be found a 125-year-old piapi, which is said to be the largest mangrove tree in the region.

Danao described Masbate as endowed with vast marine resources. However, poverty has caused the incessant exploitation and wanton destruction of the natural resources.

The growing number of fishery-dependent families caused the decline of the fishery.

Reclamation activities by people moving to reside permanently on the coastal areas have placed vital habitats at risk, including mangroves.

Putting themselves in the fish’s perspective, the youth participants to the “Fishes Feed Us” were asked: “What is happening to our homes–where we live, find food, have babies?”

The Masbate youths cited the problem of improper waste disposal and the increasing volumes of pollutants in the sea.

“I found myself swimming and living not in a sea anymore but in a canal of garbages, trash and toxic materials. It’s so suffocating, so weakening and as I tried to strive for life, I have already prepared myself that death is just right behind me,” Alarcon stated in one of his entries that earned comments from other foreign participants.

He told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, that, while seas were clean outside of Masbate’s urban centers, the government had to do something about the garbage polluting the waters near the market site at the city’s urban center.

Fabon said mangroves were being cut in order to create a place to build man-made fish ponds.

“The mangroves that are supposed to grow abundantly strain the wastes from getting into the sea to pollute the habitat of marine creatures. They must be preserved,” Fabon said.

Alarcon said discipline and the willingness of people would help change the situation.

According to Esber, taking care of the earth is a human responsibility. She added that if she were a fish, she would ask, “I serve as food for them (the people), but why do they destroy my habitat and kill me unjustly?”


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