MORONG: Dancers in colorful pawikan-inspired costumes regaled the huge audience that gathered on the shorelines here to mark on Sunday the Pawikan Festival, which was highlighted by the released of 100 reluctant turtle hatchlings into the sea.
Barangay Pawikan Chairman Manolo Ibias said the hatchlings of the Olive Ridley specie just hatched at dawn of Sunday in addition to over 62,000 hatchlings they have freed to the sea since 1999.
“Malaki na rin ang nagagawa namin bilang pangangalaga sa mga pawikan,” Ibias said adding that members of Bantay Pawikan are die-hard protectors who were once former poachers who used to sell pawikan meat and eggs.
Hundreds of people watched amusedly as the baby turtles were released on the beach sand. The baby turtles looked like rubber toys that reluctantly got engulfed by big waves.
Vicky Garcia, chair of the Bataan Tourism Council Foundation and architect of the annual celebration, led guests in releasing the hatchlings.
Because of the big crowd some children spent their time watching the replica of pawikan hatching eggs and the three live sea turtles on a small pond.
Mayor Jorge Estanislao of Morong thanked all those who came to watch the event, which had been adjudged as “Best Tourism Event on October 5, 2013.”
Gov. Albert Garcia described Morong as a beautiful place in the province surrounded by beautiful mountains and clean sea. “Pawikan helps balance ecology, in general, protect the environment.”
Leona Nepomuceno, Region 3 director of the Department of Tourism, considered the festival as wonderful and unique and “socially-relevant considering what happened in the Visayas recently. The world is looking at us not because of our beautiful tourism destinations but because of the destruction brought about by the recent earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda,” she said.
Nepomuceno said experts are now looking at the Philippines on the effects of climate change as she lauded the community participation and the assistance given by an international agency in coordinating with the provincial and local governments for the success of the undertaking.
“Saving the pawikan will also save the community not just in the Philippines, where we have the event, but also our future generation,” Nepomuceno said.
Other local officials who graced the event were Rep. Herminia Roman and Mayors Jose Enrique Garcia 3rd of Balanga, Jesse Concepcion of Mariveles, Alice Pizarro of Pilar, Gila Garcia of Dinalupihan and Gene dela Fuente of Samal.