How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan

 

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (1)

Aerial view of the foundation site

The mark of a good organization, they say, is when it leaves its environment in a better state than when it first got there. With their main enterprise being critically dependent on the health and quality of the environment in which pearls are cultured, pearl farmers inevitably make it part of their mission to make their home turf a cleaner, greener place.

The Save the Palawan Seas Foundation (SPSF) was established in 2005 by pearl farmers Manuel Cojuangco and Jacques Branellec, and underscored the link between conservation and livelihood. The goal was to provide alternative sources of income in coastal communities, through which people could earn money without hurting the environment. The foundation also hoped to help formulate long-term conservation and management strategies for the province’s marine resources, so as to ensure a better life for everyone who depended on the sea to survive.

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (2)

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (3)

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (4)

Handicraft making

Through its Baras Marine and Agriculture Research Center (BMARC), the foundation has established a variety of projects, mainly in Sitio Calabugtong, in the municipality of Taytay, Palawan, which SPSF hopes to turn into a model community. Fishing is the main source of income in this area, but with the prevalence of dynamite and cyanide fishing, marine resources have been drastically depleted; thus, the need to find other means. The projects established include organic vegetable farming, cashew processing, handicraft-making, and raising of organic free-range chicken.

The beekeeping project was started in November 20, 2008 with the help of volunteer bee experts from France, who shared their expertise with locals as well as the indigenous Mulbog and Pala’wan communities. The people learned how to harvest valuable bee products such as honey, propolis, and wax, while helping protect the area’s biodiversity by maintaining healthy bee colonies.

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (7)

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (8)

The organic vegetable farm

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (9)

The organic vegetable farming awarding

Also launched in 2008, the organic vegetable farming project initially involved five families who received training and materials to start planting organic vegetables in their backyards. Many other families were soon clamoring to participate in this project, which provided healthy food as well as a source of income. SPSF regularly monitors the project, which has been highly successful; families now produce more vegetables than they need, thus making a good income from selling produce to their neighbors.

Meanwhile, 600 families, mostly indigenous peoples, from five barangays in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza have been the beneficiaries of seaweed farming start-up operations. This option is considered ideal, as it reduces the need for dynamite and cyanide fishing, leads to an increase in fish population, and motivates people to take better care of their environment.

SPSF has also collaborated with other groups for various activities. A joint project with Earth Rights, People’s Rights (ERPR) worked for the protection and development of ancestral domains of Indigenous People’s Groups, while Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with Reef Check Philippines and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines involved marine environment information campaigns and the monitoring of coral reefs.

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (12)

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (11)

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan (10)

Tree planting activities

It has sponsored conferences, seminars, medical missions, and information campaigns all over Palawan. The foundation also organizes tree planting activities, medical missions, and book-giving initiatives. Annually, the foundation also sponsors celebrations for World Food Day, Indigenous People’s Month, Christmas, and even an Environmental Thanksgiving Day.

Following the wake of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Save Palawan Seas Foundation embarked on a 3-phase rehabilitation program to rebuild the homes of over 400 families from 37 barangays in Busuanga, Palawan and Bantayan Island, Cebu. To date, the foundation has completed the first two phases: donation and rebuilding of community structures as well as homes in the affected areas through the help of generous individuals from the international community.

It’s a total immersion and a deep sense of connection with their host community that these farmers are proud of. “In the process, we have been transformed from entrepreneur to community facilitator and mover, from businessman to father, brother, and spiritual adviser,” says Manuel Cojuangco. “And the greatest feeling of satisfaction comes from the many interactions and relationships that have been built and forged through shared adversity as well as success.”

How This Group is Saving Mother Nature in Palawan






Related Stories