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Cool the Planet!

bliss of a water baby
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I am a water baby.I can waddle, swim, dive or float in the sea from dusk till dawn. Imagine my excitement when I learned that I'll be visiting Apo Island in Oriental Negros -- one of the best community-based marine reserves in the world!

It's a 45 minute boat ride from Malatapay port to Apo Island where outrigger boats brave at least 1 meter high swells during the Amihan season.Hundred meters off-shore, one gets to see the breathtaking view from the rocky outcrops on the white sand beach to the light house on the top of the hill.

Once on-shore I was greeted by fishermen on paraos (outrigger boat without an engine) paddling their way to the community, kids playing tag on the white sand beach and mothers selling sarongs to the tourists.

The view made the one hundred thirty steps leading to the top of the hill all worth it. If you're brave enough to climb the rusty stairs of the old light house you'll see Mount Talinis looming over mainland Oriental Negros and the province island of Bohol and Siquijor at a distance. The new solar-powered light house and communication station were a clear example of how decentralized renewable energy systems suit our archipelagic country.

Underwater, Apo Island is also bliss. Imagine this... on your right side the deep blue, on your left an explosion of colors! Massive brain corals and sea fans that are teeming with fishes, a sea snake slithering on nooks and crannies and three... yes, three sea turtles! And this dive site is not even at the sanctuary!

This is why community-based marine reserves are vital to the Philippines. It translates to livelihood, food security and diversity. But these efforts are at threat to the most urgent and devastating concern to date - climate change. To know more about how climate change affects our coral reefs and our oceans, click on this link.

Photos courtesy of Danny Ocampo and Abigail Jabines

posted by dyabayns @ 7:35 PM,


At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Julian Begg said...

Hi! Is there any sign yet of coral bleaching, as we have seen devastating other coral reefs around the world?


At 10:16 AM, Blogger dyabayns said...

Hi Julian!

Massive coral bleaching, which was a result of the 1997-1998 El Nino, seriously affected Filipino communities who greatly rely on the ocean for food and livelihood. It translated to ecosystems damaged, species lost and decline in fish abundance.

My stay at Apo Island reminded me how vital but fragile our reefs are. Unfortunately I was not able to check intensively the present state of the reefs surrounding the Island. Although, I learned from the community that Siliman University regularly monitors the reef. You can check out a report that was prepared by the University at http://www.reefcheck.org/news/newsletter09/philippines.pdf.

By the way, PAGASA confirmed that there is a 2006 El Nino episode in its early stages in the central equatorial Pacific, which the Philippines is a part of. Although the country has experienced storms such as Milenyo and Paeng, the trend is showing that there is below normal rainfall conditions in certain parts of the country. Check it out at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/pressrelease.shtml#elnino

To my kababayans and to the rest of the world, we better act now and embrace renewable energy as a solution to climate change, lest there’s no turning back.


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