Volunteer divers from Metro Pacific and local dive centers pick up nonbiodegradable trash from the coral gardens in Puerto Galera Bay.

Shoring up Puerto Galera’s marine ecology

Puerto Galera*, one of the country’s top diving spots, can expect to have cleaner seas and a more balanced marine ecosystem with the recent partnership sealed by the municipal government and the Metro Pacific Investments Foundation Inc.

The corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of the MVP Group of Cos., the foundation has committed P1.5 million for three years under its Shore It Up program to provide local Bantay Dagat in the form of technical know-how, monthly allowances, uniforms, and scuba-diving courses and equipment to better protect and conserve the town’s aquatic resources.

To be called Marine Protection, Inspection and Conservation Guardians, the volunteers will also be empowered by the municipal government in their marine enforcement and monitoring activities.

The conglomerate made its initial foray into Puerto Galera in 2010 when it pioneered a comprehensive underwater and coastal cleanup drive, followed up in 2013 by another scuba cleanup and the Junior Environmental Scouts, an education component for public school children.

The recent Shore It Up drew 145 volunteer scuba divers who collected 616 kgs of garbage from various dive spots, while residents conducted a parallel cleanup in the coastal barangays.

Incepted in 2009, the program has mustered over 85,000 volunteers from the Metro Pacific firms, national government agencies, local government units, law enforcement agencies, civil-society groups, dive industry stakeholders and public elementary schools.

A multi-awarded CSR program both here and abroad, Shore It Up has been held in key coastal areas such as Mabini (Batangas), Alaminos City (Pangasinan), Del Carmen (Surigao del Norte), Medina (Misamis Oriental), Panglao (Bohol), Cordova (Cebu) and Subic Bay (Zambales).

* Puerto Galera, officially the Municipality of Puerto Galera, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 36,606 people. It is located at the north-westernmost part of Oriental Mindoro, and at the south-western end of the Isla Verde Passage, about 130 kilometers south of Manila. It is mainly accessible from the Southern Luzon gateway port of Batangas by bamboo boats operated by local regular operators.