Stakeholders in this free port banded together on Friday for mangrove and reef restoration projects in celebration of Earth Day 2016.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia said more than 500 representatives from various groups in the Subic community volunteered to collect talisay seedlings and mangrove saplings and planted them at the Apaliin Mangrove Trail inside the former naval magazine here.
“We are doing this not for ourselves, but for our children and the future generations,” Garcia said as he joined a tree-tagging project organized by the SBMA Ecology Center.
Garcia said that the successful Earth Day activities here “only show that more and more people are getting involved in protecting and preserving Mother Earth.”
Aside from SBMA employees, those who participated in the mangrove project included representatives from the Olongapo City Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) Squadron 111, workers from locator-companies and students.
On Wednesday, the PCGA also constructed six artificial reef units in Subic Bay to fulfill its commitment to the protection of the marine environment and its resources here.
The artificial reefs were installed approximately 15 meters deep and 100 meters from the shoreline of the SEA Beach Resort (former Dungaree Beach) inside the free port.
PCGA National Director Vice Admiral Valentin Prieto Jr., who witnessed the “Build-A-Reef” Project along with other senior officers of the auxiliary group, lauded the officers and members of Squadron 111 headed by its captain, Randy Escolango, who is also SBMA deputy administrator for legal affairs.
“Very impressive,” Prieto described the project, adding that the artificial reef will not only help boost the eco-system in the area, but also the local tourism industry.
At another site nearby, the non-government organization Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative, with full support from the management of the All Hands Beach and Resort here, also implemented a project to revive corals that were dying or damaged by pollution and other destructive human activities.
A group of divers from Sangkalikasan began doing the government-funded Reef Restoration Program in Subic Bay in August last year in an attempt to restore coral fragments.
Jose Rodriguez, project leader of Sangkalikasan, said that they are managing four coral nursery units (CNU) near Grande Island in Subic Bay, but had to transfer them to All Hands Beach for accessibility.
Each CNU is designed to hold at least 500 attachments of “corals of opportunity” which are a collection of dislodged live coral fragments for quick recovery and regeneration to increase survival rates upon transplantation in degraded coral reef sites.
“The management of All Hands Beach is dedicated to make this program successful and we are hoping that other beach resorts and coastal communities will follow suit,” Rodriguez said. (30)
Meanwhile, A retail chain mall in Olongapo City joined other malls nationwide in the celebration of Earth Day through a simultaneous Trash to Cash Project.
In partnership with Earth Day Network Philippines (EDNP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the activity aims to encourage people to protect and respect Mother Earth though recycling and proper waste disposal.
The project was started five years ago by SM Olongapo through its Trash to Cash Recycling Market, which invites and encourages local government and the community, haulers, recycling groups, social/environmental recycling project groups and private companies to bring their trash in the mall and exchange them for cash.
They could exchange for cash the following waste: plastic and PET bottles, tin and aluminum cans, cartons, papers and more.
However, batteries, car batteries, ink cartridges, computer, television and other electronic wastes are not accepted due to their hazardous content. (SNL)
PHOTOS: (Clockwise from left)
 SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia joins a tree-tagging activity at the Triboa Mangrove during the Earth Day celebration in the Subic Bay Freeport on Friday, April 22.
 Women volunteers planting mangrove seedlings at the Triboa Mangrove Park.
 A volunteer is reflected on the water as he plants a mangrove seedling.
(Photos by Jun Dumaguing, MPD-SBMA)