Hey guys it’s Bayley. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been in El Nido for 10 days, each one of them so full of new and exciting opportunities. After the initial phase of transitioning to island life and learning about our respective base island resorts, we spent this past week together as a cohort on Lagen island. Not many people can say their summer internship involves getting a diving certification, learning to weave a buri purse, bathing pigs, and visiting multiple turtle hatcheries all in one week. However, for the GU Impacts fellows, this past week has been all that and more.
On Sunday, I boarded the 6am departure boat leaving Pangulasian (my base island), to meet up with the rest of the cohort. Before coming to Lagen, we attended a cultural sensitivity workshop, where we learned much more about Filipino history, Palawan culture, and Filipino identity.
It’s been amazing having the whole group back together on the same island for our diving course—all five of us are now certified divers! We spent two full days studying, listening, and practicing with our dive instructor Rowell—the best teacher we could have ever hoped for. Before this summer, I would have never pictured myself as a diver. Looking back, I am so glad I decided to give it a try. I’m sure the rest of the cohort would agree that this was an extremely rewarding process. There is so much to see underwater, it is truly nothing like I have ever experienced before. Beyond that, our newfound skillsets will help us with our projects to guard, respect, and educate El Nido for the duration of our stay here.
After receiving our certification, we had two days of intense traveling and learning. Starting with our visit to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) on Tuesday, where we actually got the chance to segregate waste and handle compost coming from the various resorts. Our program is really giving us the opportunity to explore, in depth, things we would normally take for granted as guests of a tourism establishment. The process El Nido Resorts (ENR) implements for the handling of waste in a sustainable, responsible way, is very intricate. I’m sure after that experience, we will all be more conscious of how we dispose of our personal waste in the future.
After that, we had a bumpy ride out to the ENR farm. The coolest thing was, without a doubt, seeing the compost from the MRF used for soil at the farm. After just experiencing the processing of this compost, it was incredible to see everything come full circle. We also got a chance to meet the pigs and give them a bath. All the while learning so much about the resorts’ operations.
After yet another bumpy ride, we arrived at Nacpan beach where we learned about and visited our first turtle hatchery. We learned about the responsibility ENR is shouldering, voluntarily, purely for the good of our environment. Wednesday was full of more turtle hatcheries, culture, and…. bumpy car rides. We also had the chance to visit Sibaltan, where local women who weave buri bags and make chocolate barks for ENR resorts reside. I even learned how to weave a buri coin purse!
These past two days, we have had the pleasure of hosting award-winning underwater photographer Danny Ocampo, as he helps us capture the amazing moments we share underwater. This is an important mission, because to spread awareness about our projects and educate others, we need to be able to capture the beautiful sights we see. After two more days of intense diving, we emerge with some excellent photos, and memories of 11 divers finning and kicking each other underwater.
To say that I am grateful to be here is an understatement. We are constantly learning and experiencing. I even had trouble fitting just this one week into a blog post. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for us.