Last February 28, our small team of Apulit Island Resort staff set off bright and early for an adventure. The nine of us were on our way to Lapak Estuary in Stio Lapak, Barangay Busy Bees, Taytay to join the mangrove planting activity. Busy Bees is home to one of the largest mangrove forests in Taytay. Sadly, the area is heavily degraded due to overharvesting for firewood, charcoal-making, and construction materials. The local government of Taytay organized the mangrove planting activity in an effort to restore the mangrove forest to its former glory. The mangrove planting is just one aspect of the local government’s environmental information, education, and communication campaign in response to the threats and impacts that may be brought about by climate change. Different sectors worked together during this endeavor – students, Marines, the local police, the tourism industry, and other stakeholders were all there to help. I was really glad that Apulit Island Resort was invited to take part in the project. It was another way for us to help nature regain her beauty and bask in her splendor.
Our excitement was palpable. For some of us (including me!), it would be our first time to take part in an activity like this. While cruising down the estuary, my lively companions were singing songs in Cuyunin, the native dialect of Palawan. This cheerful energy was perfect for bonding time with nature and with each other. We became even more excited once we arrived at the planting site. We saw the sacks of mangrove propagules waiting to be planted and the people who came to help plant them. We asked for some propagules as soon as we got down from the dingy so we could start planting. Oh, the effort we exerted to walk in the knee-deep mud! We sank with every step we took. We eventually took off our slippers because they were very difficult to pull out when they got stuck in the mud. Walking barefoot felt very ticklish. We could feel the mud squishing between our toes. Maybe this was Mother Nature’s way of giving us a foot massage!
Planting mangrove propagules was so much fun! I liked pulling off the floater that’s on top of the propagule. It looks like a little bulb and it’s a bit tough to remove – you’ve got to be a little forceful when you yank it. My favorite part was the popping sound the floater makes when it comes off – that popping is music to my ears. When planting a propagule, you have to make sure that more than half of it is buried. This is to make sure that it doesn’t get washed away when the tide rises and the waves and current get stronger. We really pushed those propagules deep into the mud!
We were exhausted after just one hour of planting. Wading in the waist-deep water, walking in the knee-deep mud, and climbing over dead mangroves just to get to a good spot for planting the new ones was no easy feat. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and it felt really good to do something for nature.
After the planting, all the participants shared a simple snack of bread and juice. Mr. Hernan Felix, head of the fisheries division of Taytay, said that we planted around 20,000 Rhizophora propagules that morning. We were all so proud of this accomplishment and are hoping that most of the propagules we planted will survive. I hope that more of us would be able to join and experience the fun during the next mangrove restoration activity. It will take many years for us to see the fruits of our labor but the morning we spent planting was certainly a big help to the environment.