The Rotary Club of Downtown Olongapo welcomes the new Rotary Year with conserving Subic Bay’s mangroves

The Rotary Club of Downtown Olongapo (RCDO) kicked off the new Rotary Year 2023-2024 in high spirits and enthusiasm. This year, the Club started off with an activity that supports our natural ecosystem.

RCDO President Marvin Bacay said “we decided on this project – Conserve Subic Bay’s Mangroves – recognizing the necessity to do our share to safeguard our environment in the present time and to benefit the next generations.”

The project’s intent aligns with this Rotary Year’s theme – Create Hope in the World. The new Rotary Year starts on July 1, 2023 and ends on June 30, 2024. RCDO is part of Rotary International District 3790 with more than 90 Clubs within its jurisdiction. This year’s District Governor is Governor Francis Cornejo of the Rotary Club of Laoag Metro.

With a band of 70 agile participants, the Club in partnership with the Ecology Center of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and various government, private and people’s organizations planted 100 mangrove propagules at the Triboa Mangrove Forest, Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The group also cleaned the area from assorted solid waste and debris.

Why mangroves? Mangrove forests are endangered, are one of the world’s threatened major tropical ecosystems and disappearing at an alarming rate. In the Philippines, over 50% of mangroves have been lost due to many factors like human intervention, water pollution, aquaculture developments and natural phenomenon among others, published reports stated.

There are seven (7) Mangrove Forests within the Freeport Zone and the SBMA had declared these coastal forests as protected areas in accordance with Republic Act 7161, which bans the cutting of all mangrove species, the SBMA Ecology Center pointed out.

SBMA Environmental Management Specialist Cenevix G. Mañago identified Subic Bay’s Mangrove Forests to be two in the Boton area, two in Triboa, and one each in Ilanin, Nabasan, Binictican and Malawaan.

Mangroves protect shorelines, prevent erosion, maintain water quality and clarity, filter pollutants and trap sediments, and serves as nursery, breeding and spawning grounds of fishes.

With these considerations, RCDO worked on this worthy project also together with the Olongapo City Police Office – Philippine National Police (PNP) Public Community Relations (PCR) team, Philippine Coast Guard Olongapo Sub-station, Peace Community Action Group (PCAG), Batang Gapo People’s Organization Inc. (BGPOI), Asian Vision, DBA, One Ad and with constant service partners – the Rotaract Club of Gordon College ( RACGC) and Rotaract Club of Downtown Olongapo II (RACDO II).

Bacay expressed his gratitude to all the groups and Club members who participated in this very meaningful endeavor, saying “we hope to plant more to protect and sustain our mangrove reserves in our community because there is an urgent need to help conserve the mangrove ecosystem.”

He also cited SBMA Ecology Center head Amethya Dela LLana for the project partnership by providing the propagules and her team’s participation in the actual planting.

Prior to the planting activity, Mañago gave a brief lecture on the importance of these coastal forests, the need to protect and conserve, and how to plant these.

The participants learned a lot from the experience, the first-timers expressed their delight in being able to be part of this valuable activity. From here, everyone is looking forward to do more to sustain our natural environment.

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