Sept 16, 2017
Coastal Cleanup with Plastic Free Bohol
Hours: 7:30 am to 10:30am
Location: Libaong Beach, Panglao (municipality), Bohol (province), Philippines
International Coastal Cleanup Day
It was the International Coastal Cleanup Day with organizer Jammy and friends of Plastic Free Bohol leading the charge in rallying eco-warriors from near and far to join in a concerted effort to cleanup Libaong Beach in Panglao.
Choc Full of Garbage
It wasn't pretty dealing with garbage and its repulsive "kadiri" factor. It wasn't just plastic but soiled condoms, bloodied sanitary napkins, water-logged diapers, broken glass, rusty galvanized sheets, etc. Some volunteers even braved the cleanup with bare hands!
Not Just Cosmetic
Sure, it's ugly seeing garbage lining-up the beach. But cleaning up goes beyond cosmetics. The ramification of plastic/garbage is profound and compelling:
- reproduction - according to a marine biologist acquaintance, plastic, even if it's broken down to its molecular level is still plastic - it does not bio-degrade. Fish mistake it for food and it messes up with their reproduction. They lay eggs with single genders - all male or all female! It's a long list of bad shit.
Band Aid Solution
Cleaning up the coast is a noble endeavor - but nonetheless, it's a band-aid solution to a hemorrhage. The people who indiscriminately throw their garbage will continue doing this, oblivious to the damage they cause. The eco-warriors in turn, will again schedule another clean-up drive. And this cycle will continue to loop with no end in sight.
The long-term solution is pretty much obvious - education. But the challenge here is, how do you educate them in a way they can understand? How do you make them stakeholders for the cause? Local officials are known to say Yes just to shut you up but do nothing to implement the process. This is specially true if there's no money in it for them. Perhaps an effective approach to educating them is to find an innovative/creative system that will make money for them by sustaining a clean coast. Sadly, appealing to an idealized notion of a clean coastline doesn't work with marginalized thinking - you have to dangle money or some kind of tangible gain to make them act on it.
Apo Island Experiment
I have seen this happen successfully in Apo Island, Negros Oriental - not by way of eliminating garbage but by implementing no-fishing zones to allow the marine eco-system to recover and thrive. There was intense initial resistance from the locals whose livelihood were threatened. But in the long run, because of a healthy coral system, tourists came in droves and tourism money translated into prosperity for the locals. The locals finally realized that live turtles or pelagic fishes in the reef generate more money for them than having the fish served on a dinner plate. Now, the locals themselves take initiative in policing themselves to ensure continued sustainance of the reef system.
The lesson here is to tie-up the conservation effort with something clever to increase livelihood for the locals. Then you don't have to police them - they will police themselves.
The above tourism revenue approach is the carrot persuasion. I would also like to suggest a stick dissuasion to act as deterrent. People caught littering are apprehended and made to gather on a weekend to do a clean-up drive themselves with full public knowledge that these people are being penalized for littering. The threat of losing face in the Filipino culture is perhaps the most persuasive. This takes political will as barangay enforcers are likely to be related to the very people they will apprehend. It's never simple.
When I was asked by UP Diliman to teach a CWTS program (a civilian alternative to the current military training program - ROTC), I had to make a lot of research on how to make better citizens of a population. There are many such programs in place already taught in schools by most first world countries. In fact, "good citizenship" in its many names and permutations are already an integral part of the school curriculum right from day one. Kids grow up knowing that they are part of the nation-building process and they know the role they play. I cannot underscore enough the positive ripple-effect of good education. I wish we could have environmental stewardship being a part of the school curriculum in this country.
I applaud the organizers and participants of this weekend's coastal cleanup for making time, putting the effort, braving the heat of the sun and the stench of the garbage for love of a greener planet. They talk the talk, but more importantly, they walk the talk.
Next stop: Celebrating the International Day of Peace
Coastal Cleanup Blogs
- Coastal Cleanup with Plastic Free Bohol Sept 16, 2017
- Coastal Cleanup with the UP Mountaineers Sep 17, 2005
Bohol FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
- the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
- Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed
Tagbilaran Port to PanglaoYou can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
- don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
- in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)
Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
- Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
- SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
+63 32 233 7000
Things to do, Places to go in Bohol
- Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
- Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
- Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
- Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
Carlos P. Garcia Island
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