Off I go onto the next chapter of my life volunteering as a Peace Corps Coastal Resource Management Extension Worker

Friday, November 01, 2013

Placing Marine Protected Area (MPA) Boundary Markers

I'm feeling disorganized about my blog posts. Facebook's where I do regular posting and get much needed communication from family and friends. But I have some people very dear to me who don't do Facebook and I respect that. So if I seem a little spacey, who me?, I'm doing the best I can with a plan to keep things chronological but arrrg, can't keep up.
This is me doing IEC on Cosatal Ecosystems and Solid Waste Management
 donned in the Bag Monster costume I made from some
 of the trash I pick up on my walks. Yes the kids loved it.
After the last post about Nahama's swim camp in Ormoc I was having a tough time because I didn't feel like I was doing enough meaningful CRM work at my site. I'd been here eight months. Typically mid-service is the low point for PCVs who've been very busy working with their counterparts on various projects, are a bit burned out, in a slump, wondering if they can last another year, etc. This was not my situation. I'd done a little mangrove and fish species identification, a couple days going door to door inspecting garbage segregation and going to lots of planning meetings and workshops. Other than that I'd done eleven Information, Education and Communication (IEC) presentations in schools. I love being with the students and Environmental Education is crucial for changing destructive behavior but I wanted to do more than IEC in schools.
this is one of six groups of 5th and sixth grade students
 I'd sent in my quarterly report to PC and was struggling with whether to request a transfer. PC was supportive about a transfer but we decided to give it one more shot with the mayor. I met with the mayor and he agreed to give me what I need to stay, everything I asked for and more! I'm ecstatic! It feels like a nine month gestation period and now starts the birthing process.
First and of foremost importance is I have my counterpart back, Benedick Lawagon, diver/fish examiner who for political reasons had been assigned to slaughterhouse supervision duty (yes, Benji is happy) and secondly he gave us funding to inspect, repair and get the scuba gear operational for the reef assessments needed to update our Coastal Environmental Profile (CEP) and Coastal Resource Management (CRM) plan, things listed as work I'd be doing here in my invitation packet. YES, YES, YES!!!
Benji with his son, BonBon when he
graduated from 6th grade to secondary school he's now
attending at Visayan University in Baybay.
Benji with his daughter, Jamela

mom Lani at graduation

Other things started picking up as well. One day, March 6th, I decided to start going to the barangay council meetings on my own and indeed it was good timing. I ended up being able to act as a liaison between the Ezperanza Barangay Council and the Local Government Unit (LGU) Municipal Agriculturist Office (MAO) and Municipal Environmental and Natural Resources Office (MENRO). The council told me they were happy I showed up that day because they would be discussing their Marine Protected Area (MPA)/fish sanctuary.
They expressed a desire to manage, specifically monitor their 30 hectare MPA/ fish sanctuary. They said they couldn't monitor because they couldn't tell where it was because they had no boundary markers. The markers had been lost due to storms.
I returned with Al Galo, MENRO, on April 19th. He advised the council on how to proceed with writing a resolution stating their reasons and intentions for officially transferring MPA management from the inactive People’s Organization (PO) to the Barangay Council.
They did this and asked for support from the LGU in the form of rope. They had 74, 30 ft bamboo poles and weight sinkers they made by filling rice sacks with cement and rubber tire rings for attaching rope. But they didn't have enough rope.
Heading out to Esperanza with Benji and the banka crew
I returned with my counterpart Benedick Lawagon on May 27, with rope, banka fuel and a GPS unit so we could help re-establish the boundaries. I t was a great day and I’m very happy the LGU was able to provide the rope and fuel which amounted to approximately $50 US.The Barangay Chairman, Antonio G. Molato, is wanting very much to have Esperanza's MPA assessments updated.
They had a little machete work to do on the poles

a couple of boys were enjoying a swim
some fishermen were mending nets
the poles and weights were loaded onto the banka

concrete anchor weights
and off we went using a GPS unit to place the markers

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Helping Nehama with her project in Ormoc in April

Nehama is a Batch 270 Children Youth and Family (CYF) Volunteer in Ormoc, an hour north of here. She's been working at the Hayag Family Development Center there.

 Nehama and Vanessa have both COS'd (Close of Service) and are tripping around SE Asia and beyond as they work their way home now. Less than a year and it will be me.
Nehama Rogozen 
Vanesa Reneee Batch 270 CYF came from Sogod to help out too

I was happy to help out with her Swim Camp and Disaster Preparedness Training of Children and Youth project. She needed a life guard. How fun. All I needed to do was hang out by the pool all day. It was really fun to see these kids progress over three days, from not knowing how to swim to being able to swim the length of the pool. And really cool was watching their fear of the water transformed to loving the water so much they didn't want to get out.
These wonderful folks, certified swimming instructors, came from Visayan University (Visca) in Baybay and volunteered their time to teach these children and youth to swim. 
the first day everybody kind of scared and anxious and the pool isn't filled all the way.
Teach Filipinos how to swim is important because most Filipinos don't know how to swim and are afraid of the water. This seems strange given that the Philippines is an archipelago of over 7000 islands and most of the population live on the coast. With climate change, flooding and land slides are occuring more often and many people drown because they don't know how to swim.

everyday the pool got deeper

Local disaster response people came and taught CPR and what to do
 during an earthquake or other disaster situations.

 Ormoc is a much bigger place than Inopacan. We ate pizza and there's a hotel with a restaurant where I found ceasar salad om the menu. You bet I ordered it!  There's even a cinema but I haven't tried seeing a movie there yet.
On the last day we made a camp fire and showed them how we make smores. They liked them.

Nahama had money left over so called everyone back in June for a one day Water Safety Training Follow Up at a beach resort outside of Ormoc. This way they got open water swimming experience and some fishermen came with their boats so the kids could practice jumping in the water with lifejackets and getting back in the boats.My camera'd been stolen so I was camera-less, so thank you Nehama, Laura and Nina Yuniz for the use of your pictures.

Sal's Beach Resort outside of Ormoc

starting the day



Laura Mudge came from Baybay, yeah!

Project Development and Management Training

Lina Bisnar, our Municipal Planning and Development Officer
 After a week of Reef Check training we were sent to a second week of I-Service Training (IST) and Project Development and Management (PDM) training at Lima Park Hotel where we had our Supervisors Conference In August, 2012.

 We knew what we had to look forward to; hot showers, comfy beds, air con, swimming pool, good food and being together with all our Batch 271 batchmates. Still. it was kind of a let down from heavenly Bontoc on Batangas. We were able to tell the second CRM group ALL about it and I know they enjoyed it as much as we did.
Everyone, CRM, Education and CYF Volunteers with there counterparts
We had a couple days of In-Service training before out counterparts joined us for the project development part of the training.I thought Lina was awesome. We worked well and hard together developing an alternative livelihood project. I know she enjoyed the stay at Lima Park. I think all the counterparts enjoyed it.

Once back in Inopacan we continued working on the Small Project Assistance (SPA) grant proposal. Without going into too much detail, the grant would train people to run a new facility funded by the LGU housing a new bio-reactor that speeds up the process of turning bio-degradables into compost/fertilizer and a concrete hollow block making area where plastics and cellophanes are shredded and added to the process.

Lina left for an extended visit to the US but  I presented the proposal to the Solid Waste Management Board and was told the funding for the machinery wasn't yet approved and there's a problem with finding a site for the facility.

This has become one of those PC learning experiences I've read about. At this point there are too many roadblocks and not enough support. I've shelved the idea for now at leas,t and have pushed forward with another proposal on strengthening Marine Protected Area (MPA) management.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No Fooling- Reef Check Training Was Fantastic

April 1, 2013
Kenzie's two. I love you Kenzie

We had to split Reef Check training into two groups going two different weeks so I signed up for the first session so I’d be doing something memorable on my granddaughter, Kenzie’s second birthday April 2nd. I’m missing so much; so many of her ‘firsts’. I’m super grateful and happy when I get to see her and talk to her on Skype.
Here's Andrew Horan, Andrew Wynn, Allison Hoffman, Russ Halliday, me and our counterparts, Country Director Denny Robertson, AC and Francis and PCV Trainers Elliot Lam and Ben Stacy
Ben giving me and my counterpart DenDen our certificates
The training was held in Mabini, Batangas, across the bay from where all 13 of us CRM PCVs visited and  snorkeled or dove in August during Pre-Service Training. It's a beautiful and popular place for divers. We saw dolphins and tea turtles!
This is where we went down to the boats that took us to the dive sites