What I love about La Union is how I’m so close with nature. I wake up every morning with the sound of birds and people sweeping leaves (a contrast from the sound of sirens, horns, and 12nn -11am karaoke waves in Metro Manila).
When the ocean is still (FLAT is surfers lingo), I grab my goggles and snorkel. There, I see a variety of colours – corals, shrimps, sea slugs, baby fishes. Scurrying across the sand dunes, are local soft shell crablets; And in the afternoon, just before the sun sets, you can see spear fishermen – getting their meals just before they do their night rounds.
For more than 200 years, my family and relatives have acted as watchmen of the shores here, and while I’ve only been living in San Juan, La Union for almost a year, I know for a fact that I’ll be raising my own children here when the time comes.
Commercialism at the Horizon
The truth of the matter is – San Juan – is a tourist destination – a booming economy. Because of this, we have big investors such as Ayala Land, SM SuperMalls, and others who are trying to penetrate the local market, and local players taking advantage of the growing economy - each guided by their own tourist-related business development plans without any knowledge of San Juan’s natural ecosystem [both environmental and local business wise], which WILL BE affected once commercial development breaks land.
This is a fact that I’m worried about, but something that I [honestly] see as an opportunity for these big investors to build mindfully, and for companies with the heart for Corporate Social Responsibility to protect a shoreline that is still brimming with life. Besides, We don’t want to be the next Boracay, nor one of these international tourist hotspots.
A Movement Driven by a Driven Community
Together with a group of advocates, we’re commencing – La Union Soul a movement that seeks to keep our bread and butter, the ocean, ALIVE. To do this, we’re partnering with a diverse group of —
We’re calling for more guardians to rally behind our cause. After all, protecting a part of the the planet’s 4th longest shoreline – is impossible for a handful of martyrs. To keep our beach alive, we need the help of as many advocates as we can get.
Sentinels – Local Community members who are in La Union. Their role is to enforce & educate locals, tourists, and everyone about the wildlife.
Contributors – Anyone around the world who can support and provide funding (in cash or in kind) on the equipment, tools, and wages that we’d need to make sure our sentinels can do their role properly.
Messengers – Anyone who can spread our advocacy to their own community. It doesn’t have to be formal, it just has to have that heart and purpose to keep the message alive.
We have already started some of our efforts including Ridge to Reef Community Market, Ocean Rescue (Capable and Professionally Trained Lifeguards), and Turtle and Wildlife Conservation. However, there is much to do: San Juan Reforestation, Reef Rehabilitation & Ocean Cleanup, Eco-Building Consultation & Development, and Ocean Wildlfe Re-Education among Locals.
It’s a long road ahead of us, and with everyone’s commitment we can slowly but surely do things right, without cutting corners.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
― Mahatma Gandhi