DUMAGUETE CITY – For over twenty earth warriors who joined a summer camp, they did more than just swimming in the majestic waters of Sipalay. They were fighting for it.
Green Alert Network (GAN) conducted “Palawod 2018,” its annual coastal educational camp, from March 24 to 26 at the Sugar Beach and Campomanes Bay in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental.
“Palawod” is a Hiligaynon word which means, “to go to the sea.” Organizers invited everyone from all walks of life who are passionate in this endeavor of learning and caring for the environment.
“Sipalay was chosen to be the venue of this year’s event because of its rich marine resources and crystal waters which have been getting attention already in and outside the country,” Green Alert Coordinator, Randy James Rojo said.
He added that one of the goals of this camp was to educate and to empower the coastal community in the city to preserve its pristine waters and resources from any threats or abuses.
Moreover, highlights of the camp included an opportunity to trek within the area, enjoy the scenic view of the island on a boat ride, dive into the clear sea with the fishes, and witness the colorful corals. Participants also had the chance to be acquainted with the local community and their fellow campers.
“Palawod served as a refresher course for me to continue being an advocate of nature, even in small things such as educating or reorienting the communities and the individuals that I interact with, and minimizing my use of non-biodegradable materials,” Criselle Domingo, a participant of the camp, shared.
Concerns over ship-recycling
During the camp, GAN especially discussed the proposed ship recycling/shipbuilding project in Hinoba-an, the neighboring town of Sipalay, which the organization has shown strong opposition of.
Ship recycling is the process of breaking down a ship when it completes its operational life. It is also regarded as one of the most dangerous professions in the world as it involves immense health risks and environmental hazards.
“First of all, [there is] no transparency from the said project. Processes have been cut short and laws were bypassed,” Rojo cited. He also mentioned that Hinoba-an is a storm surge prone area that could displace approximately 15,000 mangroves if the project will be carried out, leading to catastrophic impacts on the coastal community.
The camp also invited passionate speakers from various backgrounds on environmental conservation to create a narrative on the importance of coastal and marine ecosystem.
One of the guest speakers, Erin Larissa Canto, a marine biology student and environmental activist, shared the role of every Filipino on Seatizenship or a traveler’s responsibility on the beach or bodies of water.
Part of these responsibilities according to Canto involved leaving no trace behind wherever you go, planning ahead of time to avoid unexpected troubles, respecting the locals and place, making friends, and sharing your advocacy wherever you go, among others.
“We are born in a country surrounded by water, but some of us don’t know how to take care of it. And as tourism rapidly grows in our country, we Filipinos should be stewards for environmental protection,” Canto said.
Green Alert Network is a 28-year-old environmental and non-profit organization in Negros Island and is duly registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). GAN has conducted its Palawod Camp since 1993, marking this as the 25th camp to date. (by Javan Lev Poblador/ Association of Young Environmental Journalists)