Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rescuers free butanding, 
pilot whale not as lucky

TAGBILARAN CITY, June 17, (PIA)--IT all happened on the same day, June 9, 2011.

Marine mamma rescue volunteers successfully freed a male juvenile whale shark entangled in a fisherman’s net in Cantagay, Jagna, but a pilot whale in Bien Unido was not as lucky.

Reports from Physalus, a non government organization that promotes the protection of the environment with an emphasis on marine habitat protection through educating coastal communities by letting them understand their ecosystems said Barangay Cantagay chairman Joel Rosario sounded the alarm when one of his fishermen constituents reported a snagging incident a few hundred meters from the shorelines of the village.

Chairman Rosario immediately called the local Bohol Rescue Unit for Marine Mammals (BRUMM), where some members are from the town to facilitate the rescue.

Dr. Alessandro Ponzo led the responding team comprised of Kristina Pahang, volunteer marine biologists Ray So, Hellen Fong arrived on scene and immediately performed rescue protocols untangling the whale shark from the net, bringing it to a comfortable position to reduce stress and recording its statistics for future sighting references.

As to BRUMM approved protocols, the shark was moved to deeper water to reduce its stress and allow more water to flow through its gills to breath, measured, inspected for presence of wounds or parasites and the sex was assessed, Dr Ponzo, a veterinarian reports. 

The whale shark, which has the potential to grow into the world’s biggest fish, measured 4.2 meters, was later assessed for its probability to swim out to sea and survive while some photos were taken to help identify and recognize the animal in the future. The animal was later released.

Subsequent survey and monitoring, a team of researchers located an animal just after lunch, feeding in the current less than three kilometers off Cantagay, confirming the rescue success.

A pilot whale straying on the other side of Bohol was not that lucky.

On the afternoon of the same day, a 4.5 meter pilot whale was butchered in Barangay sagasa, Bien Unido town.

Marine animal rescue volunteers and police officers chanced upon the mammal with its tail and fins already removed, too late for them to intervene and save the distressed animal.

In fact, reports said the community has partaken of the whale meat, a rather risky practice when it comes to eating migratory animals which might have strayed into mercury polluted waters.

Eating marine mammals is very dangerous for the high content of mercury that accumulates in these animals, which can cause serious illness and neuronal disorders, including blindness and deafness in newborn babies of mothers who consume their meat, explained Dr. Ponzo at a Kapihan sa PIA.

Marine Mammals like whales and dolphins are protected by law in the Philippines.

Fisheries Administrative Orders 185 and FAO 193 and the R.A. 1947, forbids harassing, killing or even possessing any marine mammals (dolphins, whales and dugong), whale shark and manta ray, or any part of the animal, dead or alive.

The law puts up a fine of up to P 100,000 and up to 12 years of imprisonment to anyone caught for the offenses stated.

While the two events show the richness of the Bohol Sea waters which has become a good feeding and possibly breeding sites for cetaceans and large marine wildlife, there is admittedly so much to do to engage communities in sustaining and conserving these treasures.

Any case of marine mammals or shark stranding and needing rescue, contact BRUMM members through your MAO or LGU or call (038) 501-9912. (Rey Anthony Chiu)

Pro RH think people
Should read bill first

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, June 18, (PIA)--MUCH of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bills’ opposition is posed by people who may have not read the proposed bill outright.

Most of those who attended the policy forum on the Responsible Parenthood-Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011, or HB 4244 held at the MetroCenter Hotel last week agree.

“Many have been intentionally misled, others have been deprived of the correct information while those who were injected with small doses, misinformation came as an ingredient,” shared a forum participant who admitted being a catholic but asks her name be withheld.  

“Read it first and know that many of the fears sowed have been crafted by people who may have not read the bill in its entirety,” she urged.

“At this state of our development, we must have a reliable law that correctly implements reproductive health services, supplies and make information on safe, accessible, effective and quality for our women, children and other sectors desperately needing such available,” she said.

“The RH Bill shares the belief that people have the right to choose, a right which the government must guarantee,” she stressed.

“In fact, we have the right to be given correct information on reproductive health and family planning, which is supposedly a shared responsibility among national down to the barangay local governments,” she pointed out.

“We were told that the RH Bill supports abortion,” she pointed out. “I used to believe that before I read the bill,”

HB 4244 is a digest of some six other proposals filed at the House of Representatives, Gabriella Representative Emmi Ammaya de Jesus during the forum attended mostly by women advocates.

Randomly picking up pages of the HB 4244 primer which she took from inside a purple bag she carried, the woman in her early 40s continued, “I was thinking, how can the government allow killing to happen?”

All I read is that the RH Bill does not leave a bleeding woman who has had complications from abortion because that is what the government must do.

“We can not just put a woman who has just an abortion in front of a camera and post it for the whole nation to see,” isn’t that unchristian, she asks.  

In fact, the bill seeks to raise partnerships from all sectors to facilitate the handing out of reproductive health services especially for the country’s poor and underprivileged who would have wanted to responsibly plan for their families, she shared while occasionally twisting a handkerchief.

The bill is nothing more that putting up a mechanism and systems to facilitate providing people the apt service that responds to the issues on maternal, infant and children’s health, family planning through responsible parenthood, she summed waving a primer her forum kit provides. (Rey Anthony Chiu)

IMA Catigbian bags Katigbawan
Streetdance, exhibition awards

CATIGBIAN, Bohol, June 17 (PIA)--IMPECCABLE hand and foot-tamping routines performed in perfect unison pushed Immaculate Mary Academy (IMA) Katigbawan dancers to bag this year’s championship trophy at the recent street dancing and exhibition competitions in time for the 62nd Foundation Day celebration of the town Friday.

After the throb of the improvised bass drums from oversized empty oil drums, cracking snares and a cacophony of percussion instruments, the announcement from panel of judges chair Nila Ytac signaled shrieks and jubilation from the dancers, especially from the winning dance contingent.

IMA romped with the Katigbawan Festival’s Streetdancing competition and the exhibition categories for high schools while Catigbian Central west Elementary School bagged the elementary street-dancing awards. There were not exhibition categories for elementary contingents.

With the feat performed in a town whose dancing contingent has conquered the more prestigious annual Sandugo streetdancing competition in the province, IMA’s victory over her clearly hard to beat contenders which have shown skills at par with Bohol’s best mass dance contingents is no small feat.

IMA is just one of the two private high schools in Catigbian, the other one being Holy Infant Academy in Baang.

IMA staked her claim from five serious contenders like the powerhouse Catigbian National High School, Mantacida High School, Holy Infant High School, Haguilanan High School and Hagbuaya High School, where most of the town’s Sandugo dance contingent is picked.

IMA’s victory came slim, the judges bared later.

Theme for the dance competition revolves around the life of Catigbianons: sturdy people who have tamed nature and the environment in a largely agricultural landscape.

Most common to all the dancing contingents is carabao dance steps, the unmistakable swaying of the heads, arms folded sidewards in imitation of a bull’s horn, the back kick and the stamp of feet.

And nothing can be more challenging that having dancers performing in the rains, on muddied oval with a packed audience of Catigbianons and well-wishers who were standing, oblivious to the rains.

Most of the town’s 22 barangays with elementary schools and even those with only primary schools merged to complete a dancing contingent, another rare show of leadership which town mayor Roberto Salinas is fast claiming.

All contenders presented daring choreographed mass dance routines, employed tricks complemented by a colorful array of mobile but manual handheld props that lent more pomp to their numbers.

A band of drummers and percussionists including members of the famous Pentagon Drum and Bugle Corps of Tagbilaran provided the beats for the competing contingent’s tempo. (Rey Anthony Chiu)

“DATE park”:Catigbian’s newest
Eco-recreational adventure tour

CATIGBIAN, Bohol, June 17, (PIA)—THERE’S a great new place for fathers to bond with their families today as the world celebrates Father’s Day.

In fact the new place could be a prefect venue for a date with the family all year round.

The place, aptly called the Green Recreational Eco-Adventure Tourism (GREAT) offered at the Dagook Adventure Tourism Excitement (DATE) is presented as another wholesome family treat for parents to introduce their kids to nature conservation and environment protection concepts.

Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas said DATE is another interesting offer to the Abatan River Community Life Tours and orients a family to the sublime concepts of nature conservation through recreational adventure that is safe, exhilarating and totally fun.

The mayor who has been credited to the leaps and bounds the town has shown in the past six years admitted that it took them that long to tweak with the local economy to keep it humming before feeing comfortable at looking at other concern: starting off into a veritable tourism enterprise.

We are offering this to the Catigbianons, who are celebrating their 62nd Foundation Anniversary, the mayor said during the blessing and launching.

We just would want to make better opportunities for Catigbian, he added.

DATE is a recreational park set in a 203,000 square meters of contiguous land in Barangays Poblacion Weste and Rizal, two villages which are separated by the Sampilangon River, explained municipal engineer Russel Lungay in her project briefing before a sizable crowd including Department of Tourism representative of the regional director.

It can be recalled that Catigbian is the town too far from the navigable portions of the Abatan River, where river tours have been started since 2010.

Opened to decongest Loboc River and present an entirely different come-on in community life immersions at the communities sharing the river resource, the Abatan tours often stop before the tourists could get to Catigbian.

Upon the suggestion of Abatan Australian consultants David and Fiona Aaron, Salinas and the Catigbian Performance Team teamed with Danao consultants to offer a tour experience that gets tourists a true taste of immersing in the wilds, complete with Catigbian segment.

DATE park offers a thorough recreational and educational experience in its four major thrills interspaced with guided spiels on the medicinal plants, shrubs, trees, vines, ferns, springs and brooks, rivers and waterfalls and cascades, caves, macaques, common birds as one passes through the trails.

One however needs to gear up for the experience.

At the main center, one can get assistance to get you into a Petzl headgear, safety harness, outsized hooks and a slider roller for the later mountain slide experience.

Jiggling your way with the guide to the access ramp to the park’s first outdoor like experience, you would be treated to an educational tour of local herbal plant stash.

The medicinal plants walk gets you a glimpse of how locals create paracetamols and stomach pain relievers from plants.

The park’s major thrills include a 60 meter canopy walk suspended over some 20 meters of seven high tension steel cables lashed against each other to contribute to a staggering load capacity than can easily accommodate 60 persons at a person per meter ratio, assures Engr. Lungay.

Like all suspended cable bridges, this one sways and undulates as one traverses the wood-planked bridge.
The fear however is easily dissipated with the presence of Philippine macaques keenly observing you.

From a high vantage point, one can be introduced to a new way of viewing things: that from a higher perspective. 

Trees with boles reaching a diameter of a foot more, some of them still with wild orchids, coconut groves, thick ferns and lush vegetation below makes one imagine how Tarzan could have seen wildlife from above.

From the Canopy walk, one follows a trail carefully carved out from an old trail which people used to access the roaring Dagook Falls some 20 meters below.

The trail down however is not for the weak hearted. One part is only passable through a rickety wooden stair that truly makes you doubt if the decision to get as close to the fabled Dagook Falls to feel the adrenalin pump is really worth the effort. 

It is. And like they said, only those who persevere reaps the rewards of being engulfed in the thin mist of the falls roaring by hurling a ton of water per minute into a gorge.

The lip of the falls can also be accessible from here, but one has to be extra cautious, a slip might be painful in this mossy dried riverbed.

Looking up, the mist may at a time obscure the suspended cables where an occasional tourist maneuvers across the Monkey Bridge.

Known for the Philippine macaques that are occasionally spotted in the area, a suspended span of cables called the Monkey Bridge is another offer.

The bridge that can only be traversed by doing a tightrope maneuver, but not quite.

The 45 meter bridge is a combination of four cables, one of which is where your safety harness: your lifeline is attached, in case one’s shaking knees betray ones stern face.

A main cable is strung to two more cables which act as an adventurist’s handrail, all three lashed at equal distances to minimize the sag and the sway.

And oh, yes, the bridge is suspended some 30 meters where the roaring Dagook falls hurl a gurgling mass of water into the gorges below.

A feat, although not yet as recommended for the faint-hearted is a brief stop in the middle of the shaking bridge to take a spectacular shot at the mists rising from the falls dropping tons of water below.

Following the monkey bridge is an ascending trail about 140 meters long which would peak at the next attraction.

But, before that, the guide would then tell you about the importance of following established trails, a clear attempt to keep the nearby vegetation as pristine.

The spiel is a standard instruction among all environmental trail guides, swaying away from established trails most likely creates impacts to the environment or to the wildlife within the area.

The trail gets you through stone steps carved out from moss covered limestones. Here, vegetation mostly of secondary growth forests are still in its top condition that the trees and vines from a canopy of shades making the ascent relatively easy.

The peak of the trail leads to the mountain slide, a mini zipline spanning some 200 meters that gets you across the Dagook Falls and gets you a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains, Abatan River headwaters, and gives you the perspective you would not be getting from any other experience in the park.

The slide starts from a platform installed on top of a cliff overlooking the river and lets the adventurer glide back to the main village center which ends the adventure tour.

Although the slide pales in length compared to the one offered in Danao, Catigbian’s DATE park zipline produces the same exhilarating experience with the 200 distance traversed in about 20 seconds.

It means, you’ll get exactly the same speed, same fear and the same thrill in a third of the time you would have to savor when you’re in the Danao Suislide.

DATE park adventure offers a packaged tour for P700 per head inclusive of guides, use of equipment and park amenities including restrooms, trails access and the five experiences.

DATE park is in Poblacion Weste, Catigbian, Bohol and is accessible by transport of on foot from the corner of FCB Catigbian. (Rey Anthony Chiu)   

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