A long overdue Thank You note to my friend from way down there in Guimaras, the good prosecutor from Iloilo, Jo Lacson, for arranging us a date with the Bantay Dagat of Nueva Valencia. On her red-letter day.
Also to my skipper Hannah Gargalicana, for paddling me to the awesome floating bamboo cottage for a rendezvous with the crew.
Ala two drifters off to see the world..
And thank God for blessing us with an unforgettable “binakol” which we have received from thy bounty..
Anybody, find me a hot binakol here in Manila.
Bantay Dagat (sea patrol) is a civilian fisheries patrol force made up of volunteers which keep a 24/7 eye over their territorial coastal waters. A good exemplar of an effective by-the-people-for-the-people effort.
Prosecutor Jo Lacson’s treat (“Fiscal Jo” to her colleagues. Kasamahan is how she refers to her tauhan.) is an immersion cruise with the Bantay Dagat of Taklong Island National Marine Reserve.
As expected, the team includes law enforcers on the boat. DENR-trained policemen. Trained of pertinent laws as well as rules and regulations of marine protected area management and biodiversity conservation.
These sea sentinels conduct patrol and surveillance of marine environment covering 46 islets including a marine research center by the University of the Philippines, Visayas.
Tasked mainly to safeguard the area against illegal fishing, Bantay Dagat means business.
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve was established thru Presidential Proclamation No. 525 with the primary aim of protection and preservation of ecological, scenic, scientific and educational features of the area including its marine wildlife resources.
To manage and develop the area and to uplift the social and economic welfare of its people.
March 23 this year marked the 27th anniversary of the establishment of Taklong Island National Marine Reserve. Amazing how the gungho band of sea patrollers of Nueva Valencia have been keeping up with their mission despite minimal means. One word: commitment.
One volunteer says even without the presidential proclamation protecting these landscapes and seascapes, they would still prioritized the safeguarding of their marine environment, even at the cost of losing economic benefits.
“Strict rules equals low tourism turn-out. We can’t commercialize the place. We don’t need a Boracay around here.”
Monumental. May your deeds ripple across your crystal clear waters and beyond.