Eastern Samar town acts to ‘protect’ waters; beauty queens help out
Rubber slippers, mismatched pairs of shoes, abandoned fishnets, cement bags, and all sorts of plastics from sachets to sando bags and liquid containers were just some of the marine debris that professional divers and volunteers, including Miss Earth and Miss Scuba title holders, recovered last month from the beaches and waters of Sulat town in Eastern Samar.
The beauty queens, including Miss Philippines Earth 2023 Yllana Marie Aduana, Miss Philippines Air 2023 Kerri Reilly, Miss Philippines Water 2023 Jemimah Joy Zabala, Miss Philippines Fire 2023 Sha’uri Livori and Miss Scuba Philippines 2023 Sheikha Manglicmot visited the town last month to participate in the series of coastal and underwater cleanup activities to mark the Month of the Ocean.
Helping in the advocacy for environmental protection and sustainable living, they also visited other parts of the province of Eastern Samar as part of the wider Project Kalikasan Linisan Estehanon Aksyon Na (Project Klean) spearheaded by Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone.
It was the first time that the Month of the Ocean, declared under Presidential Proclamation No. 57 to highlight the vital role that oceans play to sustain life, was observed in the coastal, fourth-class municipality of Sulat.
The celebration from May 8 to May 12 was born out of the desire of Sulat Mayor Javier Zacate to make the townspeople more aware of the adverse effects of indiscriminate disposal of trash, especially plastic, into the waters that they depend on for their food and livelihood.
Fortunately, the volume of trash has not yet reached alarming levels, thus a wide variety of corals are still intact, fish, including tuna and blue marlin, are still abundant and the people can still readily enjoy snorkeling and swimming.
The rich marine ecosystem is indeed still healthy, but it may stay so for long unless damaging habits are corrected, Zacate stressed.
This explains the massive coastal cleanup activities that the townspeople are institutionalizing to keep the waters clean, especially as the town is making a more aggressive push to invite tourists—including divers—as part of its sustainable tourism drive centered on its abundant marine and natural resources.
Sulat does not yet figure on most Filipinos’ list of places to visit but Zacate is confident that it has a lot to offer, especially to those who want to stay close to nature.
There are zones, he said, that can be transformed or developed into marine sanctuaries to be enjoyed by the locals and tourists alike. Then there are resorts offering aquatic sports facilities that are also being developed.
All these, however, will come to naught unless there is greater awareness of the role that every Sulatnon plays to preserve the enviable treasures that they have right in their own backyard.