I cannot get over how friendly and people here are. With the obvious exception of the endless horde of people trying to sell you “trips to see the whales in Oslob”, (I mean, I’m here for six weeks, remember my face I don’t ever want to go to Oslob to see these phantom whales, or the hand-fed, boat scarred sharks…) life is quite pleasant here in Panglao at low season. Sure, over-development is coming and land that used to be beautiful mangrove forest is now filled with half finished resorts on land snapped up by greedy businessmen with a severe lack of foresight. That’s not even mentioning the international airport coming in 2018 that the island of Bohol really isn’t ready for. However, the people here remain ‘ever-chipper’ and ready to lend a helping hand, talk about life and how Panglao has changed. Sometimes for the good, and how lucky they feel that Green Fins assessors are here to save Panglao’s great coral reefs, and seemingly rid the island of all it’s problems. A daunting task not for the faint hearted believe me!
The New Me.
Adapting to life in the Philippines has been fairly straight forward and I have always been relatively environmentally conscious but a new thing I am attempting for this trip is to decrease my consumption of meat. This is something that I have always found difficult for some reason. Growing up, the only meat I enjoyed was chicken, and my attitude was if there’s no meat on the plate I’m not going to be full up. A statement that couldn’t be further from the truth: I’ll never be full up regardless of what’s on the plate! As a late-comer to steak and pork I rather stubbornly have never wanted to give them up, but how often do you have steak really? It’s a rare treat, and so it should be. I can proudly state that I haven’t had KFC for 10+ years, it’s gross but I do miss the coleslaw and gravy. Also I haven’t eaten tuna for 7 years, least of all because rare tuna steak from the bbq covered in lemon and black pepper is a taste that won’t be beaten (and a memory I shall treasure forever) but it just isn’t sustainable (see Miss Rutten’s blog).
A Bit of Good Old-fashioned Moaning
What I don’t get with fish is why no-one seems to care. Why can people happily call themselves vegetarian, but still eat fish? Why is it that people fight incredibly hard to rescue one Killer Whale or Dolphin from captivity but are perfectly okay with the idea that fish get crushed to death under a tonne of other fish in nets every 5 minutes? The phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” comes vividly to my mind. I’ve never understood Shark-fin soup either, the fin is tasteless and provides zero nutrients and I’ve never been one for traditions they seem bad, old-fashioned and down-right stupid (Bull fighting for example). Anyway I digress, it’s the grumpy English-man in me, but it makes me sad to see severely undersized parrot fis4h and grouper, that look about 6 months old, at fish markets. Educating the future generations is so, so important!
After a week here I have already found my favourite cheap eatery where I can feast like a king for £1.70, the best and also cheapest cup of coffee, and the dive guides and manager I shall miss the most when my time in Panglao comes to an end. At this stage I feel quietly confident about my role as a Green Fins assessor. Feeling comfortable about all the individual tasks one must achieve to complete the assessment, from the often tedious task of organising it in the first place. To delivering the feedback session and writing the report and feedback email. However, the same cannot be said about the daunting personal project set out before me. At this early stage it all seems far too overwhelming and too much for one person to hope to fix. I am encouraged though by the consultations with dive managers that I have held so far. Each having said that the issues that come with the emerging diving markets, are lessening already and they have began to tackle the problem rather effectively (if they do say so themselves), with one manager even suggesting that Green Fins is doing all it can to help already! Tut, tut and shame on you sir, Green Fins can always do more! I can only hope that at the end of these 6 weeks I can be proud of what I’ve achieved.