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