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Siargao youth discover, take a stand on island’s environmental plight


One of the prettiest beaches in Siargao Island is tucked along the coast of Santa Monica town, away from prying eyes, nosy and noisy beach bums, and greedy tourism operators. Photo courtesy of stoneair/pinterest

In the recent Siargao Island Protected landscapes and seascapes (SIPLAS) Youth Summit held September 28 and 29 in Santa Monica town, a hundred selected high-school students, teachers from all nine municipalities and visiting professional-lecturers converged to study and evaluate the island’s natural condition to help conserve and protect it from deterioration caused by ignorance, carelessness and neglect.

The event was organized by the Surigao Economic Development and Micro-Finance Inc (SEDMFI) with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA-Surigao del Norte) and Santa Monica local government unit (LGU).

Below are the young voices expressed through writing that inspire and help authorities and citizens to craft and proactively do their respective responsibilities:

    “I learned and appreciate the importance of marine resources and sanctuaries initiated by fisher folk groups and proud that all towns in Siargao have its own sanctuaries. I realized that every living sea and land creatures, even the small ones are part of diversity and contribute to our survival. It’s amazing and I am truly awed.

    I hope that all of us, the youth sector, participate from now on, the task to take care our environment and natural habitats and we should also be critical and say no to the unfavorable and offensive traits of foreign tourists, mostly back packers who influenced local young people my age.

   I pray that someday our island will forever remain environmentally productive, simple, peaceful and not abused.”

    Winil Joyce N. Torcal

 Roxas National High School


    “We were fortunate the organizers brought us outdoors like the sea where we examined the sea grass,corals and fish. I am now fully aware and convinced our island’s natural resources should be conserve and protected at all cost so that we ca pass it on to the next generations.”

                                                          Jomalyne P. Dolor

San Isidro National High-School


    “Before I dreamed of going to big cities I realized living and growing up here in the island is better because of life’s simplicity.

    My father decided to settle here for good and I’m glad that we did. I now appreciate the beauty of living a simple but meaningful life here.

   Lately I noticed we are invaded by foreigners who have no respect to us, like when I was walking to school, we encounter them wearing skimpy under wears with no care. I hope this kind of disrespect to us locals would stop.

   This summit gave me deep knowledge and voice concerning the protection and conservation of our landscapes and seascapes. We learned that our island is gifted with diverse flora and fauna but sad to say, they are already classified endangered species.

   I am happy too that there are still people who are doing their best to take care of the marine life like corals and mangroves  and hills that are our watersheds.

   We the youth of Siargao Island has the potential to act as guardians like the Bantay Dagat and Bantay Gubat teams (sea and mountain patrols).We know if we don’t do anything, nature will take revenge and punish us.

   As a philosopher once said, “We did not inherit this natural blessing from our ancestors but borrowed it from the next generations.” And by that, I am inspired to become a biologist so I too can speak and empower the youth take care of our one and only home. This is my stand.”

                   Dhea Coleen S. Villamor

                    Siargao Nationa Science High School

                    Dapa, Siargao Island

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