Six Pinoy open-water athletes swam together in advocacy of saving the Verde Island Passage (VIP) and educating the public on coral reefs conservation.
The athletes were: Ingemar Macarine, Frank Lacson, Betsy Medalla,Julian Valencia, Moi Yamoyam and Miguel Villanueva who together swam an open-water swim marathon recently for Reef Strokes.
The event celebrated Coral Triangle Day by highlighting the dangers of plastic pollution and climate change on the Verde Island Passage, dubbed as the center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity.
“As a swimmer who regularly swims in open water, I am disheartened each time I encounter floating garbage. We swim to remind everyone that we need to act now to protect our marine resources,” said lawyer Ingemar Macarine.
The lawyer was given the Hero of the Environment award by World Wide Fund (WWF)-Philippines for his efforts in raising marine conservation awareness in his swims.
“Open-water swimmers are natural stewards of the sea, it’s important for us to inspire more people to swim and protect the beautiful Philippine seas,” added Coach Betsy Medalla, the first to finish the 10-kilometer swim.
Since 2007, WWF-Philippines has assisted Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club, and Pico Sands Hotel in various environmental programs such as coastal resource management, renewable energy use, solid-waste management and ridge-to-reef conservation.
Hamilo Wesley Caballa exlained that the Hamilo Coast is located right at the apex of the Verde Island Passage, which boasts of an incredible array of marine species.
“As an organization with sustainability at the forefront of its operations, we ensure that we take good care of the environment from ridge to reef. Through the help of WWF, several sustainability programs have been incorporated in our development,” he said.
“Ang huli ng mga manlalambat ay umakyat ng dose kilos kada-araw. May dagdag namang isang kilo kada araw ang huli ng mga namimingwit. Mas-marami po ito kaysa dati sapagkat naprotektahan na ang mga tirahan ng isda,” testified Adelito Villaluna, a local fisherman who has plied the bountiful waters of Nasugbu for years.
“Coral reefs give millions of people food and livelihoods,” added WWF-Philippines President & CEO Joel Palma. “However, they are threatened by plastic waste, which smothers delicate corals. Climate change effects such as global warming also lead to coral bleaching, turning once-productive reefs into graveyards coated by algae.
Top airline Cebu Pacific has also been WWF’s ally in conserving Philippine reefs. The program known as Reef Strokes was organized by WWF, Hamilo Coast, Pico Sands Hotel, Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club and Cebu Pacific Air.