Moalboal Community Action Day

Trash, particularly plastic waste, is becoming a problem in Moalboal. Some immediate, and some long term action is needed to deal with it. For the first of our Community Action Days Savedra Joined forces with the teachers and students of Basdiot Elementary School. Four of our instructors Maribeth Balane, Jaime Sabanate, Mat Severance and Francois Burg held a presentation at the school for grades 5 and 6. The Topic was Community Pride and the need to defend our Environment.

Here we see Beth, Mat, Jaime and Francois talking to the children of Grade 5-6 Basdiot Elementary  School. The guys admit to having been a little nervous, but the enthusiastic welcome from these kids made those nerves melt away.

Most of the talking was done by Beth and Jaime, the idea was to speak earnestly about their concerns for the environment they grew up in, and where they will raise their families. Moalboal has changed rapidly in a single generation, the amount of waste being produced is overwhelming the current approach to disposing of it, and the way we as individuals handle our own trash is creating a big problem.

The job of our two non Filipino Instructors was to speak to the children about the benefits foreign tourism brings to towns like Moalboal, and how the presence of trash in the town, and on our reefs, threatens that.

Don’t be a Litterbug

The term litterbug is said to have it’s roots in the Keep America Beautiful campaign from the 1950’s, I think it’s safe to say the most who grew up in an English speaking country will be familiar with the term.

A Litterbug is a person who carelessly drops litter in a public place.

We decided to recycle the term for our purposes here and try to make it sticky, giving the children a term they can use to identify an undesirable act, and have a bit of fun correcting perpetrators behaviors. We had some laughs with Jaime demonstrating the role, with a little help from Mr Bean himself. We have already heard the Children using it when they were unaware people were listening, I hope to hear more of it.

Thank you to our co sponsor PADI

A big thank you is due to Conny Jeppson, the regional manager for PADI, who on behalf of PADI was kind enough to donate some Open Water Certification packs, and Discover Scuba Diving Brochures to the project. We wanted to offer some prizes to the participants, but moreover we wanted to create some new divers and underwater ambassadors for Moalboal.

The best four individual efforts in trash collected won an Open Water Course, the best two team efforts won a Discover Scuba Dive, this created a huge amount of excitement among the kids and really got them enthusiastic about the cleanup.

Moalboal is considered by most who visit here as a diving town, what is often forgotten is that a great deal of those who grow up here do not get the chance to participate in these activities, we are delighted that some of them will now have that chance, and will be able to join us on future underwater cleanups.

The final four Open Water Courses were awarded to four of the teaching staff that helped organise, and run, the cleanup. Twenty Four in total joined, a raffle decided who joined the course. We thought it important to educate the educators, it serves our cause very well to do so

The Cleanup & Dive Against Debris action

Saturday March 4th at 07:30, the meeting point Basdiot Elementary School. A plan was made to disperse the teams over several areas seen to be most in need of clearing. Each participant was given a numbered bag, some gloves and a ration pack (most of which was drunk and eaten during the safety briefing :0). Each team, led by two teaching staff, were given a map and some instructions. A few walked to their starting point, the rest went out by jeep and tricycles.

To be honest, we expected a good effort from all teams, they were quite competitive (probably helped by the prizes on offer), but they were also keen to do something good. But what happened went way beyond all expectations.

The first sign that something special was happening was when the call came from the first team for more bags, each of these kids was given a 20KG rice sack, most of them probably do not even weigh 20KG themselves, and they had already filled these up.

As the truck and tricycles started to arrive back at the school the bags started piling up, we honestly couldn’t believe our eyes, what they achieved in just a few hours is nothing short of amazing. I had the job of weighing the sacks, my luggage scales were often unfit to task and we had to bring out the big scales.

Moalboal Ambassadors, 917 Kilograms of trash removed

Whilst the trash was being weighed and segregated we had a BBQ lunch with the participants. It became clear there were some incredible individual and team efforts, one bag came back with 37KG alone. In just a few hours an incredible 917 KG of trash was collected, THAT’S NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN KG!!! This went way beyond what we expected, a truly incredible action by these children and their teachers, we were blown away by the effort.

Once all was recorded and everyone fed we were able to announce the winners, and congratulate our first Moalboal Ambassadors. Their open water training and discover scuba dives are scheduled for April school holidays, following that they’ll be invited back to participate in regular cleanup dives and activities. Who knows, maybe i’ll see some of them on a Divemaster course, or an Instructor Development Course in the not too distant future.

The winners are

Top 4 heaviest garbage collectors and winners of the Open water courses
1.Vensil Gabato 2.Jorenz Sabay 3.Sam Domosmog 4.Marjun Villahermosima

The two best team efforts and winners of Discover Scuba Dives
Team A
Teachers: Ma Leonora Er-Er and Horamabel Padilla
Students: 1.George Patoc 2.Kim Daniel Tapales 3.Lourdes Cindy Lamosao 4.Elisha Eve Caballero 5.Karyle Amporado 6.Jay-Ar Sabanal
Team B
Teachers: Elizabeth Tacoloy  and Maria Riza Domosmog,
Students: 1.Gerald D. Villordor 2.Princess Jemima Timonio 3.Lhovely Pajane Gargar 4.Joshua Nemenzo 5.Sam Domosmog 6.Aliana Jane Deniega 7.Rustom Abenido

From the teaching staff the winners of the Open Water Course are
1.Wilfredo Salocot 2.Marivella Salocot 3.Carmen Trinidad 4.Lea Anne Redoble

Other Community Actions

On the same day a town and reef cleanup was organised by a local group BBTO and the Mayors office, they managed to remove approximately 200 KG from the reef and beach, taking the daily total to well over a ton.  Thank you to all involved there for your hard work and commitment to a cleaner Moalboal.

Dive Against Debris

After the crowds had dispersed, not put off by the hot sun, the dive crew led by Instructors Mat Severance and Francois Burg, met their D.A.D instructor course requirements by weighing and recording all data to later upload to Project Aware.

Not a dream job by anyone’s standards, but this act gives Project Aware some valuable data to work with local and national governments, and other groups, to work on the bigger picture.

The Winners

You’ll be hearing more about these guys when their training starts in April, we hope you’ll continue to see them in future cleanups, this time in a wetsuit. We’ll be sending them back to school after each dive to talk to their fellow students about their underwater adventures, and create even more excitement about future projects.

Future projects and Community Pride

This is only the beginning, we will be working on a series of community projects to bring about positive changes to Moalboal. We’ll be working above and below the water to protect Moalboals natural heritage.

A huge factor in the projects success is having participants feel a sense of achievement and pride, help us with that by giving them your encouragement, all comments and social media shares will be shown to the students.

One of the goals of this exercise was to remind the children that they have a right to grow up in a beautiful place that they can be proud of, to get them directly involved with the solution, and remind them they have the power to make a change, their response was fantastic! If you agree please use one of the social media icons below and leave them a comment.

Keep an eye on our blog and social media for updates on the winners dive training