International Coastal Clean Up Day Event 2009

“Beyond a One-Day Cleanup: Living Environmental Awareness Everyday”
Sponsored by SPEEDO, Ocean Conservancy, SIKAT, PAGCOR, CMAS, ThinkPop Design Photography Studios, Dive Republic and Serbisyong Bayan ng Lungsod Quezon.

Almost a thousand PLS volunteers, one with the world on a mission to save the environment, enjoyed a day of environmental activity on September 19, 2009 in celebration of the International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICCD) . ICCD, a global event traditionally celebrated since 1986 on the 3rd Saturday in September, is the day each year when volunteers around the planet go to shorelines and remove accumulated trash. For the first time this year, PLS, in tandem with Philippine FinSwimming Federation, increasingly concerned by the rubbish humans generate and the impact this makes to the environment, has joined the country and the world in celebrating ICCD.

PLS coordinated clean-up activities at two sites– the coastal areas of Barangay Anilao in Mabini, Batangas and Sitio Nacab, Barangay Bubog in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

The coastal clean up in Anilao was well- participated with more than 600 volunteers. Leading the pack of coastal cleaners were some honored guests, PLS executives, local officials of Mabini headed by Mayor Nilo M. Villanueva, and representatives of the event’s major sponsors – Serbisyong Bayan ng Lungsod Quezon under Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Dive Republic of Quezon City, The Ocean Conservancy, SIKAT, CMAS, PAGCOR, SPEEDO and ThinkPop Design Photography Studios.

They were joined in by students and teachers from the local high schools , resident fishermen and resort owners, and other concerned citizens of Barangay Anilao. Working in small groups, the volunteers started early at 5:00 a.m . For seven hours they filled their bags with all forms of debris like plastic cups, cigarette stubs, food wrappers, etc. and managed to fill six dumptrucks of accumulated litter.

Later in the day, a small group of scuba-diving volunteers from PLS, Philippine FinSwimming and the PCGSOG did their share by plunging into the nearby ocean depths of Anilao and collected trash of all sorts from down under. One unlikely piece among the litter was a wedding gown. How it found its way into the deep became a puzzle to the volunteers.

The presence of three time- Olympian swimmer , now PSC Commissioner Akiko Thompson, lent honor to the event. As guest speaker during the one- hour commemorative program, Thompson remarked, “ Coastal Cleaning requires a lot of hard work and patience. Garbage thrown, unless collected and properly disposed of, will be a continuing menace to our waters . I encourage you to pick up each piece of rubbish you see, and tell others to do the same. Pick each one up, even after today. When you do and when everyone else does, we will soon find our shores cleaner and safer.

Batangas Vice-Governor Jose Antonio “Marc” Leviste III , who also graced the occasion, manifested his gratitude and enthusiasm for the environmental effort by announcing, “As a token of my appreciation, I will support the call for coastal cleanup, not only in Anilao but to the rest of the cities and municipalities of Batangas Province.”

While the Anilao group was busy combing the coast of Barangay Anilao, the volunteers from the PLS Visayas group consisting of more than 300 volunteers, scoured the shores of Barangay Bubog. PLS Visayas members , local officials of Sito Nacab , and volunteer students from West Negros University, Carlos A. Hilado Memorial State College, Technological University of the Philippines Visayas , John B. Lacson College , Bacolod Christian Center High School
and the University of St. La Salle Bacolod participated in the cleanup. Equipped with gloves, garbage bags, and the eager Negrense smiles, the volunteers combed the coastline of Bubog Beach.

The group , led by PLS Vice- president for the Visayas, Neil Abalajon, BM, collected over a ton of garbage and trashing from the shoreline. Abalajon said. “The 1.4 tons of garbage gathered from Barangay Bubog coastline today is an eye- opener for the community to realize the alarming amount of marine debris from our waters and shores. It has become imperative for us to clean our coastal waters if we want a cleaner water environment. Hopefully our efforts today will encourage the coastal users and inhabitants to protect our beaches , so that someday these beaches will become worthy of being visited by tourists.”

At the end of the day, the 900 PLS volunteers from both sites removed over five tons of accumulated trash, adding to the millions of tons collected at beaches around the world. PLS President Arne Navarra was happy with the turn- out and hopes to surpass the record next year. Navarra assures, “PLS looks forward to lending its support to ICCD in the years to come. This is an opportunity for us to give back , not only to the community , but to Mother Nature as well. We have made a difference by being here today for we have become a part of this laudable global environmental effort which is certain to benefit not only us humans but also the fish, the corals, the sea turtles , and other marine life.”

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