Bantay Kalikasan

Adopt-A-Mangrove Project in Sorsogon

Althea Cahayag
February 8, 2019

Adopt-A-Mangrove Project in Sorsogon: A Development Initiative and Livelihood Opportunity for the Community

Bantay Kalikasan of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, together with Sun Life Foundation, Local Government of Gubat, and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources of Sorsogon, graced the groundbreaking ceremony of a new eco-tourism site in Brgy. Panganiban.

Named as Panganiban Mangrove Boardwalk and Nursery, the project will directly benefit 23 members of Panganiban People’s Organization by providing livelihood through the construction of one-kilometer long boardwalk. 

The project will also include an Adopt-A-Bakawan – a mangrove reforestation project in the 13.7-hectare lush Mangrove Forest of Gubat, Sorsogon.

According to study entitled Storm surge reduction by mangroves, “Mangroves can reduce storm surge water levels by slowing the flow of water and reducing surface waves. Therefore mangroves can potentially play a role in coastal defence and disaster risk reduction, either alone or alongside other risk reduction measures such as early warning systems and engineered coastal defence structures (e.g. sea walls)” (Mc Ivor, Spencer, Möller, & Spalding, 2012).

Mangroves also serve as homes to fish where they can find their food to eat. For small fish and other animals like shrimps and mud crabs, mangroves protect them from predators.

Inside the mangrove forest – the white cloth serves as a mark for the pathway of the boardwalk to be constructed

Mikhail Dizon, Cluster Lead of Bantay Kalikasan told in an interview, “Itong gagawing eco-tourism site, pwedeng pumasok sa loob ang mga turista, maglakad sa mangrove boardwalk, at tuturuan namin sila nang tamang proseso nang pagtatanim at pagharvest ng mangrove.”  (Tourists can enter the eco-tourism site, walk along the mangrove boardwalk, and we will teach them how to properly plant and harvest mangroves.)

For PHP200.00, tourists can adopt three mangroves. They can plant them by themselves or let the community plant the seeds for them. It also includes a certificate, a souvenir, and snacks. If the tourists decide to let the Panganiban People’s Organization’s members plant the seeds, the PO will document their mangrove planting activity in photos, as proof that their donation to adopt mangroves is spent.

A photo opportunity with partners of Panganiban Mangrove Boardwalk and Nursery Project during the groundbreaking ceremony. (L-R) Mylene Lopa (Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Philippines), Kristine Dianne Millete (Executive Director, Sun Life Foundation), Jen Deomano Santos (Program Director, Bantay Kalikasan), Alex Narcis (President, Sun Life Foundation), Atty. Ronnel Sopsop (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Sorsogon), Hon. Sharon Escoto (Mayor, Municipality of Gubat), and Lita Lara (Chief Finance and Services Officer, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc.)

During their pitch to Sun Life Foundation, Dizon pointed out that aside from protecting the forest from illegal mangrove cutting, the boardwalk will also help the community clean the mangrove forest with ease. He said that during their initial visit in the area, they’ve seen a lot of wastes in which most were plastic. These wastes were carried away by waves.

“Nung nag walkthrough kami ng Sun Life dito, naging clean-up activity siya bigla at nakakuha kami ng anim na sako ng basura!,” he said. (We had a walkthrough here with Sun Life and it suddenly turned-out into a clean-up activity. We took home six sacks of wastes!)

 “Sa ngayon kasi, nagkakanda sugat-sugat sila, nahihirapan sila. Pero ang adbokasiya na iyon, alam naming dapat may kasamang sustainable livelihood.” (Right now, it’s hard for the community to clean the area as they end up having wounds. But we know that this advocacy should be coupled with a sustainable livelihood project.)

Maria Esteves, a member of Panganiban People’s Organization, recalled how their neighbors used to make fun of them when they were cleaning the mangrove forest. “Naglinis na po kami d’yan, tapos pinagtatawanan kami ng mga kapitbahay kasi ang lawak ng lilinisin, dagat pa ang napili namin. Hindi namin sila pinansin basta sabi namin, ‘Balang araw, ipagkakaloob ng Panginoon ang proyekto sa amin na mabubuhay ang mga walang trabaho.’” (Our neighbors laughed at us when we were cleaning the area. They said that of all the things we would decide to clean, we chose the wide sea instead. We did not mind them. We just said, ‘Someday, God will give us a project that will help those who do not have jobs’.)

As the main partner of the project, Sun Life Foundation is in awe of community’s compassion.

“From last year, kita na iyong improvement kahit hindi pa ata gumagastos,” Alex Narciso, President of Sun Life Foundation said. “Ngayong meron ng pondo para itayo ang boardwalk, I think mas lalo pang gaganda iyong lugar.”  (We have seen the improvement from last year even without having the funding yet. Now that there is already a fund to construct the boardwalk, I think the place would be better.)

“Ang prime movers dito ay ang Panganiban People’s Organization. Kitang-kita ko ang malasakit sa bakawan at kung paano nila mina-maximize kung ano pa ang pwedeng magawa doon,” he added. (The members of Panganiban People’s Organization are the prime movers of the project. We can see their compassion for the mangroves and how they try to look for more opportunities from it.)

Likewise, Bantay Kalikasan’s Program Director Jen Deomano Santos said that the Adopt-a-Bakawan is a sustainable livelihood opportunity for the benefit of Panganiban People’s Organization. “It is also a way for the community and the tourists to be a part of reforestation and conservation process,” she enthused.