After a fantastic 2 weeks of training and modules at the Marine Conservation Philippines base in Zambonguita we were all excited to be heading to civilisation and to move onto the next stage of our programme, but sad to leave the people and food behind. We were so well looked after while we were there and bonded with the other volunteers easily because of our mutual passion for diving and conservation.
To mark the end of our first stage of training we had a graduation celebration where we were all presented with certificates, a delicious hog roast and 2 huge chocolate cakes!
After a days delay due to buses and weather we finally reached Panagsama on Tuesday and began settling in. We are staying opposite the beach in private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, luxury!
The town is quiet and quaint with small streets and a few restaurants, bars and coffee shops and we are based in the perfect location to get around. When we step out of the front door we are a few minutes from many of the dive shops we are visiting and have already become recognised faces in the town with locals shouting ‘Hello Green Fins’ when we pass them.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the town and introducing ourselves to dive shops and have been made to feel very welcome by all of the locals, a positive when we are trying to immerse ourselves into community programmes.
My personal project is to organise a clean-up event within the local community that incorporates an educational element. Filled with enthusiasm to get started, Charlie and I headed out yesterday to scout locations for the event. We visited the two main beaches in the area and were thrilled to see that although some rubbish was visible, on the whole the areas were kept very clean. It’s great to hear that the work of Green Fins assesors in the past is inspiring so many dive schools and locals to continue taking care of the environment they live and work in. Although, this means we will need to work harder and find a way to make more of an impact. Challenge accepted!
As a group we’ve been working hard to get started on our Green Fins assessments and training. We had our first assessment yesterday and have lined up a training for tonight and another assessment tomorrow. The area is very quiet due to the bad weather we’ve been experiencing, but many of the dive schools are happy to have us join them when they do have divers. We’re all excited to get the ball rolling on this part of the project!
Speaking of bad weather, I think I underestimated just how much rain there would be during rainy season! Our waterproofs are an integral part of our uniforms and we’ve had to make a few dashes for cover from the down pours that come without much warning. Yesterday was lovely sunshine in the morning, and then we acquired a river in our front garden and a lake in the car park in the evening! Still waiting for a tropical thunderstorm, but I’m sure we will see one over the next 2 months!