Latest Stories


Turtle haven in Mati under threat


HATCHLINGS in Dahican, Mati City, in Davao Oriental FREDDY ALAN UY/CONTRIBUTOR

MATI CITY, Philippines—When the Inquirer Mindanao visited the coastal village of Dahican here on Friday noon, there was none of the usual crashing of the waves. The sea was calm—not ideal for skim boarding or surfing.

About 2 meters from where the water kissed the white sand were two concrete markers. And, unlike the placid sea, the round markers spelled trouble.

The markers were buried by surveyors of landowner Octavio Zamora, who was applying for a foreshore lease agreement (FLA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The markers, which were placed on June 12, when the country was celebrating Independence Day, served as boundaries of what Zamora wanted covered by the FLA. These, however, also covered a hatchery area for Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles.

“This should not be happening,” Winston Plaza of the Amihan Boys said.


The Amihan Boys are considered the “guardians of Dahican.” The group of 25 boys and young men, all residents of the village of Dahican, started as mere skim boarding enthusiasts nine years ago. Since then, they have become a common sight in the Dahican shores—skim boarding; surfing; picking up debris like driftwood, coconut husks and plastic wastes; and watching over the turtles’ nests.

“In the past four years, we were able to release 14,000 hatchlings,” Plaza said.

The group has also rescued 100 turtles that were either wounded or caught in fishing nets.

“Since January this year, we have released some 5,000 hatchlings,” he said, adding that the last release was made on June 21.

The Amihan Boys, who have set up camp (more like a beach front cottage made of salvaged driftwood) on the shores of Dahican, monitor the arrival of turtles at night.

“After the turtles lay and bury their eggs, we dig and transfer these to the hatchery,” he said, adding that they wait for some 55 days before the eggs are hatched and tiny turtles surface from the sand.

Keeping turtles safe

The hatcheries (there are two in Dahican) are areas fenced with plastic screens, preventing dogs and crabs from digging up the nests and eating the eggs.

“The hatcheries also prevent humans from stepping on the turtles’ nests,” Plaza said.

At day time, especially during summer vacations, tourists set up tents and try to skim or surf the waves. At night, when luck is on their side, they are treated to seeing an Olive Ridley or a Hawksbill crawl on the white sand, dig and lay eggs.

“That’s what Dahican is known for—skim boarding, surfing and turtles,” outgoing city administrator Richard Villacorte said on Friday, his last day in office.

Villacorte served the administration of Mayor Michelle Rabat, who lost to her cousin, Carlo Rabat, in the last May 13 elections.

“We have planted the seeds for Dahican to become an ecotourism model. It is up to the new administration to decide what to do,” Villacorte said.

Art Boncato, regional director of the Department of Tourism, described Dahican as the “next wave destination” in the region.

“That’s what tourists want— sand and beach,” he said.


Boncato said Dahican, in a sense, is “unique for its 7-kilometer white sand beach and its biodiversity.”

He cited President Aquino’s signing of Republic Act No. 10560, declaring Davao Oriental a Tourism Development Area, which also means pushing for the province as a tourist destination, but “we have to protect the environment.”

“The [tourism] master plan should be anchored on ecological sustainability,” he said, adding that any development “should also follow the law of easement.”

Manny Isip, regional director of the DENR, said he has seen the markers in a recent visit to Dahican and that “these violated the law of easement.”

“The easement should be 25 meters from the highest tide mark,” he said, adding that the markers are just a few meters from the water.

“That should not be allowed,” he said.


Isip said he has instructed the city environment and natural resources office of Mati City to look for the people who surveyed the land and buried the markers.

He said the DENR has been a partner of the Amihan Boys, giving the group training on environmental protection.

“We also provided them the materials for the hatcheries,” he said.

“The Amihan Boys have done a lot to protect the turtles,” he added.

Aside from turtles, Dahican also boasts of dolphins and dugongs.

Isip said the DENR and the city government under Mayor Michelle Rabat have started a project that would ensure the Amihan Boys will have a place to “set up camp”—Menzi Beach Resort.

“I hope we will be able to convince Mayor Carlo Rabat to continue support for the project,” he said.

The new mayor, however, refused to answer the Inquirer Mindanao’s phone call.

Among others, a question for the new mayor would have been: “What would you do with the FLAs, not only the one filed by Zamora but as well as those of his (mayor’s) two sisters and a sister-in-law?”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Conservation , Dahican , Mati , turtle

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Pope’s Easter Message ‘Urbi et Orbi’
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Marketplace