Tending Island School, Palawan
Tending Island is a 13 hectare wilderness zone near the main island of Culion in the Calamianes group of islands and is home to the indigenous Tagbanuan people who reside on various islands within the Calamianes region. Throughout 2011 and 2012, CTC aided the Tagbanuan community by rebuilding a school based near Coron, Palawan to serve as the main educational centre for the Island.
Working alongside Saragpunta, a not-for-profit organisation fighting to protect the rights of the indigenous Tagbanua people, Tending Island is one of the most marginalized communities in the Philippines yet Coral Triangle Conservancy recognised it as a place destined for indigenous learning and living.
The Coral Triangle Conservancy not only rebuilt the school but provided waterproof tablets, essential tools for learning in this modern era. Furthermore, the reestablishment of the school allowed the community to regain access to an educational curriculum based on their local culture and language which reflected their rich cultural identity, a top priority for the Tagbanua communities. The adaptive curriculum of Tending Island School catered for age and varying learning levels of the local children but the overall focus was centered on primary education with an emphasis on functional and practical learning delivered via IT resources and experiential learning practices. Following primary education, Tagbanuan children will be prepared to further their education and gain secondary diplomas in cooperation with existing government schools.
“Tagbanua kids had to paddle their little bancas sometimes for up to half a day to get to the school and then slept on the floor with limited food. I still get choked up thinking about the time when one of the students asked to borrow the tablet to take home to teach her mother to read.” – Scott Countryman, Managing Director, Coral Triangle Conservancy
Caramoan Coral Reef Project, Bicol
Bryan and Jacinda Martin have been in the Philippines for 12 years. They have been working in small communities teaching on social issues to help improve the quality of life of those living in isolated and impoverished areas. They are fluent in Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines) and have experience working with local governments and within the local culture to start grass roots level initiatives. They are fully funded by donations sent to the non-profit organization, World Team Inc., and are currently working as Project Managers for the Caramoan Coral Reef Project with the Coral Triangle Conservancy, working to restore coral reefs throughout the country. They are both certified divers and passionate about seeing people lifted out of poverty through the responsible management of environmental resources.
The Caramoan Coral Reef Project is installing artificial reefs based on Biorock technology. Biorock uses the process of electrolysis on a submerged steel structure to create a limestone shell around the metal. The limestone material that covers the structure is 3 times stronger than cement, and is made of the same minerals as a coral skeleton. This provides an ideal substrate for corals to attach to and grow on, but it is the electric field produced by the low voltage current that increases the rate of coral growth. Corals can grow 4-7 times faster on Biorock powered reefs, and are more resistant to disease and adverse environmental factors that would cause other corals to die.
Power for the Biorock reefs comes from solar panels and a battery floating on the surface. The size of the area that can be rehabilitated is only limited by the amount of power that can be produced at the surface and brought down to the submerged steel structures.
For the past two years The Coral Triangle Conservancy has been partnering with local communities in the Municipality of Nasugbu to implement marine educational programs. These programs establish a connection between CTC and local children and hence the local communities. These partnerships are key to ensure the protection and conservation of the Philippines’ natural habitats and marine ecosystems.
In 2017, CTC debuted the Ree.ph Floating School Program conducted from the unique classroom of The Emanta, a Solar Powered Catamaran. The program focuses on two core issues – survival swimming and marine environment education and conservation.
Survival Swimming Skills
Every year 3000 Filipinos of all ages die from drowning injuries, almost 50% of all reported deaths in The Philippines. Of this, 36% of deaths are children under 14 years with the highest mortality due to drowning occurring among children aged 1 – 4 years old. Because of this, Coral Triangle Conservancy has teamed up with the Akiko Thomson Swim School to educate and demonstrate essential survival swimming schools to combat this nationwide problem. Through practical learning in a fun and safe environment, local children are taught invaluable skills in the water in order to provide them with the confidence to live and play in their ocean backyard.
Marine Environment Education
In order for oceans and fisheries to become protected, conserved and sustainable, next generation must have an understanding and appreciation of their surrounding marine environments, and hopefully become the environmental stewards of future. Without knowledge and an appreciation of the beauty of our oceans, and their importance to maintaining a healthy planet, how can we expect future generations to truly value and fight for what they don’t understand? In a non-traditional classroom setting, CTC educates local children about various habitats including beaches, seagrass, mangroves and of course, coral reefs as well as the critical threats such as plastics pollution and overfishing that damage the marine environments and how they can contribute in mitigating these threats. The Coral Triangle Conservancy demonstrates the role of Marine Protected Areas in sustainable fisheries for local communities and ultimately, the Philippines.