Story and photo by Henry Empeño / Correspondent
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Volunteers from the Subic Bay Freeport community, along with professional divers in the area, scoured the waters of Subic Bay last Saturday under the “Dive Heroes Festival-Scubasurero” event to rid the popular tourism attraction of trash that has found its way underwater.
The whole-day event organized by the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc. (SBMEI), operator of the Ocean Adventure marine park and Camayan Beach Resort, in cooperation with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), drew in 200 mostly youth volunteers who donned masks and flippers in search of underwater garbage and flotsam.
A few who abhorred jumping into the cold seawater worked the shoreline looking for marine debris.
At the end of the day, the “dive heroes” weighed in with more than 50 kilos of collected waste. This included 35.5 kilos of trash found along the shore and 22 kilos of garbage from underwater.
The shoreline haul consisted of 7 kilos of nets, 9 kilos of ropes, 10 kilos of plastic, 3 kilos of styrofor packaging, 1.5 kilos of plastic bottle and 5 kilos of plastic.
The trash brought in by divers after 40 minutes of search at the Camayan reef area and near Grande Island included 6 kilos of rubber slippers, 5 kilos of plastic and 11 kilos of bottle.
In a recognition program following the cleanup, the organizers also gave out awards for the “weirdest trash”—a pair of Oakley sunglasses found by Antonette Guy; “most trash collected”—3 kilos, by Maria Camille Jalandoni; and “most hazardous”—a fish net collected by Benjie Achina.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who graced the activity to encourage the participants, thanked everyone involved in the event and emphasized their invaluable role in environmental protection.
“We only have one home and this is our home. What you are trying to do here is a testament to what I am trying to say. I hope you’ll continue to do it,” Eisma said. “Hopefully, next time, I’ll join you. I’ll go back to diving again.”
Organizers also recognized during the program the best active dive team—Shanghai Electric Power Construction Co. Ltd.; most active diver—Mark Anthony Sideco; longest professional dive—Dean Recupero; and dive master of the year—Jeffrey Trinidad.
The “Scubasurero” event was held in celebration of the third anniversary of SBMEI’s Camayan Divers Padi Five-Star Dive Resort and was spearheaded by the Camayan divers in cooperation with Project Aware and the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force.
Scuba-diving groups, such as the Subic Bay Dive Association, Arizona, Boardwalk Dive Center, Johann’s, Deep Blue Scuba and Wow Shark also contributed their personnel and resources for the event.
Camayan Divers Officer in Charge Juanito Soriano said the cleanup was for the benefit of Project Aware, a global network of scuba divers and water enthusiasts who seek to promote protection of the world’s water resources.
Soriano said his group will donate P10,000 to Project Aware for its local marine-resources protection activities.
“Together, there’s a lot we can accomplish,” Soriano said. “We are giving divers a chance to extend their passion for the care of the environment,” he added.