As a travel blogger, one of the things you dream about is discovering a new destination that is off the beaten track and either hasn’t been written about or has been written about so little that you just might get credited with the ‘discovery’. Like the ancient explorers, we want to be the first- but there is of course a downside. Telling the world about a destination can change or even destroy it.
Arrival in Hambongan Island
When you find a place that is beautiful – whether you are the first or any that come after, you have a responsibility to help preserve and protect it so that you are not the last to see it. Nothing could be so sad as to see the last of a species, the last sight of a beautiful place or the end of a beautiful ecosystem.
Elementary Students in Hambongan Island
It’s for this reason that the RARE Conservation Fellows (CF) have become so important to the protection and preservation of both flora and fauna in delicate ecological areas. The mission of CF’s are to adapt and replicate demonstrated solutions by effectively implementing a community based solution.
Inabanga Mayor Jose Jono Jumamoy
What this boils down to is teaching communities to be more sustainable through the use of new tools, effective training, economic incentives, and to promote a change in the way people look at the world around them. RARE wants people to see the value of what is all around them.
An afternoon in Hambongan Island
It was with these ideas in my head that I sat on the two hour bus ride to the town of Inabanga on the beautiful island of Bohol. Inabanga is a small town but one that takes pride in it’s beauty and uniqueness through the help of its effective local government and civic organizations. With this in mind, I was not surprised when we were welcomed to Inabanga with a parade and a celebration consisting of students, government officials and local residents.
RARE CEO Brett Jenks
The parade wasn’t so much to celebrate us as it was a response to a call everyone had put out to preserve and protect the incredible natural beauty and resources of nearby Hambongan Island with a marine conservation program. The entire town came out in support of the program and it’s energetic champion, Mayor Jose Jono Jumamoy – who is the youngest mayor in the Philippine history. Of course, that’s not surprising in the town that was the birthplace to Francisco Dagohoy – the man who led the longest revolt in Philippine history from 1744-1829 – rightly called the Dagohoy Rebellion.
Hambongan Island in Bohol
I was there with a team of Conservation Fellows and with the Mayor, we all headed down to the port to see some of the program and what was being done to protect Hambongan Island. We were met by volunteers and elementary school students who welcomed us with seashell leis and huge amounts of enthusiasm. With speeches and a delicious lunch, the launch of the program got under way.
Ruins in Inabanga Bohol
First we had a tour of the island itself. A big part of the conservation program is to understand the amount of destruction that practices such as dynamite fishing cause – from the destruction of coral reefs to actually cracking the school buildings on the island!
The program has aimed at teaching local fisherman about the long term destruction caused by things like dynamite fishing and cyanide fishing.
Kid’s Pastime in the Island
The Philippines is home to 488 of the 500 known coral species and as pointed out by RARE Senior Vice President from UK, Paul Butler – many of these are becoming endangered or have already gone extinct.
Over the past few years, locals have come to realize that destruction of the reefs means destruction of their livelihood, their way of life and their home.
Philippine Marine Protected Areas
RARE members from around the globe were in attendance on the island and the locals welcomed them with indigenous dance, hearty applause for the speeches and more than a little bit of excitement as RARE CEO Brett Jenks and RARE Philippines Director Stuart “Estong” Green awarded a plaque to the community leaders for their fantastic efforts for the “Saving Meloy – Hambongan Islands RARE Pride Campaign.
Continuation – Saving Meloy – Hambongan Islands RARE Pride Campaign