Friday, December 10, 2010

Pawikan Release!

As I have mentioned before, there is a Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in one of the coastal barangays of Jordan. Since I have been here, there have been eight turtles being kept there, only two of which were actually in need of rehabilitation. So I have been talking a lot with my counterpart, Bebot, about having a sea turtle (pawikan) release. And of course he added that we should make an event out of it. So this past Tuesday we had our “Sea Turtle Tagging and Release into the Wild” event.

Originally we only had three tags so we tagged three turtles in preparation. However through a fellow PCV, I was able to make a contact at SEAFDEC, which is a fisheries research center. There is a SEAFDEC facility in Iloilo and in Nueva Volencia, Guimaras. My new friend at SEAFDEC not only was planning on coming to our sea turtles release event, but she was also going to bring a turtle to release and additional tags. So we were able to tag two more turtles for release!

I had invited the other PCVs on the island to come and most of them were able to attend. It was a busy morning, boating people from the turtle rehab center to the beach where the release was going to happen and tagging the two additional turtles. The turnout was really great! In addition to my fellow PCVs, co-workers from my office, and my new SEAFDEC friend, also in attendance were the Governor of Guimaras, Jordan Mayor, a group of local residents and fishermen, and an American ex-pat living on the island. There was also media present and we ended up on two local news channels later that evening! One showed a clip of me and the governor releasing turtles on the beach.

Bebot had also convinced me that I should MC the event. So in addition to introducing all of our guest and speakers, I also gave a short speech about the turtles being endangered and how great it was that Jordan was helping in the tagging and releasing of this animal… all in Ilonggo! Luckily I had practiced that morning with my tita (aunt) and timbong (house help). They made sure to correct me so that when I was talking about the day’s activities, I said ‘an activity like this’ instead of ‘an activity monkey this’. Both words are spelled “amo” but pronounced with different emphasis. I am SO glad I didn’t say monkey!
The morning finished on schedule even though we started an hour late, and we were able to release 6 tagged sea turtles to the sea!
Getting ready to tag the turtles.

Now turtle gets a little "piercing" for her tag.

We were able to release 6 sea turtles: 2 green, 2 hawksbill, and 2 olive ridley.

The Governor of Guimaras releasing a turtle.

Me acting as MC for the event with media near by.

I think she is ready for the sea!

Also this week I was able to take part in cashew planting. Cashew (“kasoy”) is a major crop on Guimaras, along with Mangos, and the organization ”Kasoy for Life” planned a kasoy planting and wanted the agricultural office to help out. Although it is not really coastal resource management, since I work in the agricultural office, I thought it would be fun to help out. After about 17 of us piled into the office truck, we made our way to an inland barangay and went on a short hike through the forest with cashew seeds in our pockets. Using pre-measured bamboo sticks, we planted over 100 cashew seeds each 6 meters apart. My supervisor told me I should come back to the Philippines in 3 years to see the grown trees!
So this week was very productive for me! I helped in releasing 6 sea turtles and planting over 100 cashew trees. All in week’s work!
Getting our cashew seeds ready.

Planting kasoy!
Halong everyone!

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