Today, my friends and I spent the good part of the day with the Special Operations Group (CGSOG) of the Philippine Coast Guard’s South Eastern Mindanao District. The command is celebrating its 26th founding anniversary this month, and as part of their continuing commitment to the community, they conducted a coastal clean-up activity at Samal Island from 9am to around noontime.
Led by the CGSOG’s newly-appointed commanding officer, P/Ens Bernard N. Venutra, the group of Scubasureros swept the sea floor from Sonrisa Beach to Blujaz Beach to Paradise Island Beach. Joining the frogman team were Christian, Rodney and me, and two more civilians: Dennis Tiamson of Philippine Airlines and Al Karlus Piloton, a freelance dive master. The civilian team was invited by the CGSOG through Carabao Dive Center, the Coast Guard’s partner in such activities.
According to my dive buddy during today’s Scubasurero plunge, SN2 Al Konrad Piloton (the DM’s brother), the Coast Guard also did other coastal clean-ups at Sasa, as well as other environment protection initiatives in some parts of the Davao Gulf. (Earlier this month, another sub-unit of the Coast Guard conducted a mangrove-planting activity.)
I salute these intrepid protectors of the seas for their sincere concern for the environment, and for their positive actions that should serve as an example to everyone.
The Scubasurero event was sponsored by the three resorts — and as well they should, because they were the direct beneficiaries — and by Carabao Dive Center, which provided equipment and tanks. Divers from Paradise Island Beach Resort also joined in the effort.
The Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao (CGDSEM) is commanded by Commodore Eduardo B. Gongona. CGDSEM’s area of responsibility encompasses the entire Gulf of Davao, and all the way to General Santos and Sarangani. With so much to look out for (with a budget that, I imagine, doesn’t match their requirements), it’s amazing that they can find the time to do community service. And I’m certainly glad they do!
The rest of the CGSOG team: PO2 Charlie Cayanong, PO3 Elmer Cabrera, PO3 Edward Atok, PO3 Michael Marquez, SN1 Raymond Villanueva, SN2 Ernesto Madriga, SN2 Luis Tan, and SN2 Baltazar Ligan.
|Location:||Babak District, Island Garden City of Samal|
|Features:||sandy bottom, gradual slope, artificial structures|
|Date:||14 September 2011|
There was so much garbage underwater! Of course I see that each time I dive, but now that I was collecting them, it was mind-blowing how much trash the sea bed is actually covered in. I personally retrieved about 3lbs of plastic wrappers, aluminum foil, PET bottles, cans, diapers, lighters, pens… It was just disheartening.
Most people don’t see the sea very often, so the problem of ocean pollution is a classic case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. This must change. The waters between Davao City and Samal are now polluted with floating trash, and it’s becoming more than just an unsightly annoyance. It will very soon become a region-wide problem: getting it out of the sea will certainly be costly, but if we let it remain unchecked, it will impact negatively on our tourism industry.
But more than that, non-biodegradable materials in the sea are harmful pollutants. They can cause coral reefs to waste away; they can kill dolphins and marine turtles, who could ingest plastics thinking they were jellyfish; and they can clog waterways and cause damage to life and property.
Please, stop throwing garbage into the sea!
For more photos of this dive, please see Rodney’s album.