A call for change or a call for awareness? “Just another brick on the wall.. ” As Pink Floyd’s song goes, so does my writing..
Hear ye, Hear ye! This is my call for awareness. Let it not be just another rock for the wall. We might not have all the time on Earth to put it back once it crumbles and fall.
The coastal community of Barangay San Roque, Legazpi City needs responsive mediation from non-government organizations and responsible government agencies that will address their plea to restore their environment and the health of their food source and livelihood, the ocean. Sad stories of relief and livelihood assistance not reaching the needy families made me look deeper into the inefficiency of local government agencies in the country. One may think the stories are surreal how the international and national donations for indigent and typhoon-stricken communities don’t reach their beneficiaries. Others might even think that local government agencies tasked to distribute assistance have diligently delivered. Unfortunately, not. They have devised a procedure that seems to favor only a few, when in fact all residents in said community are undoubtedly in need of assistance. From what I have seen and gathered during my short visit in the coastal village, I agree that these are real issues to be addressed.
It’s been five years since the fisherfolks of said community were able to get a good catch of fish. I remember how the villagers used to enjoy big catch of blue marlins and yellow fin tunas for their daily food and income. Today I can’t help but wonder , where have all the fishes gone? Are the big fishing vessels allowed to fish more than the local small-scale fisherfolks? These commercial structures slowly creeping along the coastal areas, will they benefit the local coastal community or just the businessmen and bureaucrats? Why use expensive concrete seawalls as coastal defense when nature-based solutions such as mangrove restoration are more sustainable? Once the commercial structures are built, will the coastal community be relocated and provided alternative livelihood? Will they be prioritized as they recuperate from their lost livelihood, or will they spend more than their meager earnings to participate?
In reality, are the small scale fishers given proper representation and participation in the governance of aquatic resources? Sustainable projects like WWF’s Partnership Project Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) is a timely environmental movement that provides fishing communities awareness and knowledge towards sustainability amidst the impact of the environmental degradation which is also affecting our oceans. Knowing that the results from these projects are beneficial to the small scale fishers, how soon will the other local government units adapt the project for their own coastal areas? Sad but true, this will only be determined by the political will of elect government officials committed to address this coastal and marine issue.
I am also pondering how affected the marine life is with the influx of commercialization and urbanized landscapes in this coastal area. Those big boulders of rocks and assortment of garbage scattered on the beach is a horrific depiction of modernization threatening marine ecosystem. How often are the beaches cleaned and how involved is everyone in the the clean-up drive? Everyday the sea waves sweep these garbage back and forth into the waters. Every bit of non-biodegradable rubbish accumulates into the sea and continuously endangers the sea waters and its marine life. Has anyone noticed? The disruption of marine habitat will be difficult to reverse once damage has been done.
We only have one Earth, and it is becoming fragile through time. We should always keep in mind long -term environmental benefits. “Sustainability and resilience will be achieved much faster if the majority of the Earth’s population understand the value and needs of our increasingly fragile Earth.” (WWF Living Planet Report 2016)
I’ve seen the drastic changes that may soon affect lives of younger generation. It has already affected the local fisherfolks. Do we have to look the other way towards bright lights and high rise buildings, or to the indigent coastal areas and their residents with their plea to restore their environment and the health of their food source and livelihood, the ocean? This is my call for awareness. This is not just another rock for the wall.