Tiffany and I stayed on in Puerto Galera (PG) while the rest of ZEP Batch 7 moved on to Moalboal. We miss having the whole team around but look forward to our reunion and spending Christmas together. =)
I started working on the PG portion of my personal assignment which involves investigating on Puerto Galera’s Brown Revolution, a ban on the use of plastic bag as packaging via a Municipality Ordinance and present a report/ case study which hopefully would serve as a reference which will positively influence other Local Government Units (LGUs) or Organisations keen on exploring or considering this option. I will also have to tap on the information and learnings gathered and use it in Part 2 of my project which shall continue in Moalboal.
I had the honour of meeting with the PG Mayor, Dr. Hubbert A. Dolor one Monday morning for a chat. The Mayor’s office holds a ‘Drop-in Clinic’ for anyone who might want to chat with the Mayor, seek advice or highlight issues. I was amazed at how open and accessible the LGU and the Mayor is. When we arrived at 8.30am, there were already eager locals lingering around the office. You could also see the look of gratefulness on some of the citizens’s faces as they left his office – it really meant something to them.
Mayor Dolor was really helpful giving me an overview of the Ordinance which governs the Brown Revolution. You could really tell that he had conviction on the matter and was committed to trash management – to segregate, reuse, recycle and reduce. He strongly believes that it is good for the people and for Puerto Galera. I also had follow up chats with Grace Perlino from the local Fishery Office and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) officer, Ms Betty Gaciala to gather feedback and find out their views on the “brown revolution”. Betty’s name came up in my later conversations with the local shops, the Barangay captain and even some local shoppers. They all felt she was personally very dedicated to communicating the Ordinance and educating the people.
Everyone I spoke with was so open and their passion on the subject really shone through. The community and businesses really supported the Ordinance. I also grew to understood that the “brown revolution” was a good example of how things do work here – With strong commitment from the leaders, who then drive down the messages for awareness and education. The awareness and education then builds up the bottom-up support from the community. This has been a good combination here and has led to everyone understanding and believing that the “brown revolution” is for the better of their lives. Hence the campaign has been successful and compliance is strong.
Another exciting thing for me was assisting Tiff on her assignment – Seagrass Watch. It gave me the opportunity to spend close to 6 hours straight in the shallows… snaking my way around a field of seagrass, not exactly the most glamourous of snorkeling sites, but it was amazing what can be found in them– juvenile grouper, razor fish, dog fish, school of baby catfish, star fishes, loads of pipe fishes and a variety of strange juveniles that I couldn’t really identify! I never knew!
I also did my first Green Fins’ Dive Centre Training Presentation with Guli Dives at White Beach, PG. The guys were so responsive it made my job easier. They were really interested about what they could do to do their part for conservation and shared concerns and issues they faced. It was an eye opener as these were feedback from the people in the business and who are taking people diving everyday. I was humbled by their very real experiences and concerns.
Leisure-wise, Tiff and myself squeezed in a few dives over the weekends and I particularly-liked Manila Channel and our Verde Island excursions. Verde was an exceptional treat as the dive centres here do not make the trip there often. It’s rather far and they need a boatload of divers. Thanks to Chloe, JJ and their visiting friends, we made it… through crazy waves and currents! Well worth it still and definitely a must visit when you are in Puerto Galera.
Being true blue Singaporeans, shopping and food were key focuses for Tiff and myself. Though we do love the wonderful sandwiches from Mira’s Deli (Recommended: Philly Cheesesteak and Roast Beef), the most awesome Italian food from Casamia (we officially award it… Best Restaurant in Puerto Galera!) and familiar comforting Asian fried rice, the Tamaraw Special rice, we still miss food from home and tried our best to cook some dishes which we were more familiar with (ie. Largely featuring oyster sauce and sesame oil). We also tried out food when we are going around town… local fried chicken, baked goods (Cake in a cup??) from local bakeries.
It has been a multi-faceted adventure! And onward to Moalboal!