MABINI, Compostela Valley – Scuba divers and helpers on board 10 motorized boats hauled more than 300 kilograms of garbage from the seabed of Kopiat Channel off the coast of this municipality.
It was the province’s highlight of its ninth environment-themed summer beach sports festival with its traditional Scubasurero seabed clean-up on May 6.
Nineteen Scuba divers from the regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Davao City, the Davao City Carabao scuba dive group, municipal rescue teams, host Beach View Resort, and Lubi Plantation Resort dive to a depth of 30 feet braving strong current and almost murky waters to scour the seabed along a three kilometer underwater stretch from barangay Tagnanan to Pindasan.
Edwin Carmelotes, head of the municipal disaster and risk management office and overall dive coordinator, told divers at their briefing to not dive beyond 30 feet to avoid risk.
“I strongly discourage you to avoid going beyond a depth of 30 feet. Scour the seabed only for residual and recyclable garbage like plastic and bottles,” Carmelotes, who represented the Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape (MPLS) that has jurisdiction over the dive sites, told the diving teams.
The first dive just before noon took less than an hour because the seawaters were murky. “We called off the clean up because our divers found it hard to see the seafloor. The rain in the mountains washed away mud into the rivers that drain into the Kopiat channel,” he said. The second dive, after lunch, was more successful.
Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy formally opened the ninth provincial beach festival. In a brief message to local and provincial officials, the governor cited the national tourism best practices awards the festival has consistently received since it was organized by the provincial tourism office in 2009.
“The festival,” the governor said, “is not only mostly about tourism. It is also raising awareness about conserving the environment.”
Provincial tourism officer Christine Dompor echoed the governor’s view.
“Ecotourism is possible only if we have a healthy ecosystem. We need to heighten the awareness of all people enjoying our beaches that unless we conserve what God has given us, our enjoyment and that of the next generation won’t last,” Dompor said.
The first weekend of the beach festival ended in the evening with a DJ mixing competition and hip-hop contest at Beach View and a summer musikahan at Magnaga Waters Beach Resort in the coastal barangay of Magnaga, Pantukan.
In the morning after the night of fun, students, community groups, police officers, soldiers, and barangay officials joined technical people from the community environment and natural resource office based in the town of Maco, the provincial government’s environment and natural office, the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office, and the municipal government of host town Mabini planted 600 mangrove seedlings at San Antonio, the next coastal barangay after Pindasan.
The other activities lined-up for the coming weekends are a customer service, housekeeping, and life support training on May 9-10, the Kopiat Swim challenge and beach body painting at Beach View Resort on May 13 and 14, Frisbee competition, poi dancing workshop, bikini open and beach bonfire party on May 20, frisbee championship, water volleyball, and summer kitefest at Pantukan on May 21.
The last weekend on May 24-26 will feature art camp workshops on songwriting, visual arts, and dance theatre zumbalympics and foam party at Beach View Resort.
The Kopiat Swimming Challenge is a major highlight of the annual Summer Beach Sports Festival of Compostela Valley that has won the province the national championship award from the Department of Tourism and the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines in the 2010 search for tourism best practice-sports and wellness category in the provincial level.
Kopiat is an 87-hectare island surrounded by white sand beaches and a rich coral bed almost a kilometer off the coast of Mabini. It is a nesting site of two of the world’s endangered turtle species – the hawksbill and greenback turtles – and sits at the heart of the Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape.
Dompor explained that the swimming competition was organized to heighten awareness on protecting and conserving the rich marine biosphere of the protected site north of Davao gulf.
She said the provincial government through the provincial tourism office has cemented partnerships with Lubi Plantation Resort, the Department of Tourism 11, Small Hotels and Resorts Association, Inc., the local governments of Mabini and Pantukan, the Kite Association of the Philippines in pursuing the activities. IDS Comval