One fundamental factor for a successful Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a supportive and active local community. Local community involvement in the establishment of an MPA develops a sense of ownership which motivates them to actively participate. In every community, there are those that stand out and are worth recognizing. Here are our reputable partners in conservation for 2016:
Councilor Solita Panugan of Barangay Cotcot, Liloan
Known to many as Kagawad Sol, or Nanay Sol, she opens her home to anyone who seeks her advice or help. As a member of the barangay council, her constituents flock to her for assistance for anything. More often, local businessmen come to her house to plant mangroves as part of Liloan’s coastal management plan to repopulate mangrove areas. Kagawad Sol is on her third term as part of the barangay council. Since her first term in 1997, she has been a staunch advocate of environmental protection in Liloan. She makes sure that people who come to visit the mangrove rehabilitation site understand the importance of mangroves and why they are strongly protecting them.
Ms. Nenita Tagalog of Barangay Calero, Liloan
Nanay Nita heads the “bantay dagat” (local fish warden) of Liloan where she guides and ensures that the needs of the 29 members are accounted for. The “bantay dagat’s” main duty is to enforce protection over the coastal waters of Liloan. Their headquarters is located in Barangay Calero where a six hectare sanctuary was established, locally known as the “marina”. The local government supports the “bantay dagat” but more financial support would be sufficient. Despite this challenge, Nanay Nita manages their resources efficiently and does not see this as a deterrent to their enforcement duties. They have apprehended violators and are vigilant in guarding their coasts from illegal fishers. Nanay Nita maybe the only rose among the thorns but she brings a touch of motherly care not only to her fellow members but to the marine environment that she cares for deeply.
Mr. Darrell Pasco of the Province of Siquijor
Sir Darrell started working with the Province under the Office of Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) in 2005 as Aquaculturist II. In 2011, he was designated as Section Chief of Regulatory and Extension under OPA where part of his regulatory tasks was to provide assistance to the local government unit in coastal resource management (CRM) and serve as head of the Provincial “bantay dagat”. The main focus of the program assigned to him was management and protection. At that time their challenge was apprehending the rampant commercial fishing practices in the municipal waters of Siquijor. Sir Darrell and his colleagues’ also face other challenges such as the lack of logistical, financial, and manpower support, as well as changes in administration and lack of political will. But their greatest trial was the death threats to the “bantay dagat”. Despite this major impediment, he still continues to lobby to the government for their needs and perform his duties protecting their municipal waters.
These are the people that we at CCEF honor and admire. They inspire us to continue our mission of creating sustainable coasts for our local communities.
Patice Talaue and C. Bollozos