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Cleaning Paradise

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[Photo of Caylabne Bay]The beachfront of Caylabne Bay shows how people can push to the limit Mother nature’s ability to give and nurture life. Good thing it is also a showcase of what a group of determined environmentalists can do to nurture nature back to health.

Nothing soothes flayed nerves better than a trip to the beach. In a tropical country blessed with beautiful strips of white sand beaches, one need not look far for a patch of paradise.

One such spot is the Caylabne Bay Resort Hotel.Situated along a secluded cove along the coast of Ternate in Cavite, the resort is a mountain and seaside getaway surrounded by five islands—El Fraile, Caballo, La Monja, Carabao, and Corregidor are just a boat ride away—about 90 kilometers south of Manila. It offers good, personalized services as well as amenities for leisure and even business activities (like conferences and team-building exercises).

Almost Heaven

The view on the way there is a sight for sore eyes. Past the provincial highways flanked by rice fields and quaint houses is another length of concrete road that snakes into a forest leading to the Caylabne Bay Resort. The lush green forests around the resort provides a nature trail and is also home to rich flora and fauna. There are flowers, trees, bamboos, mangroves, monkeys, and nearly 80 bird species.

The forests are so lush the Philippine Marines do their jungle training there. They have a camp nearby so guests need not worry about potential troublemakers who have become the bane of more pedestrian beach resorts.

Further down the road is a great spot overlooking Caylabne Bay. It features a mountain topped with forest canopies that jut out to the pristine and deep blue waters.

The view is simply stunning and picture-perfect. Too bad the bay itself faces serious environmental threats.

Floating Doom

[Photo of Marine]Ocean liners from the nearby Manila Harbor pass by and pollute the bay. These ships dump some of their wastes in the waters, leaving the garbage to eventually wash up on the shorelines.

“Some are snack wrappers,” 2008 Cala Buena Preservation Day project coordinator Nick Cabalza reveals. But even stolen bags find their way to the beach. “Thieves aboard these ships also throw away the bags they stole to get rid of evidence.”

To avert further pollution in the area, Las Casas de Cala Buena, Caylabne Bay Resort, and their partners organized a preservation day in 2005. It has been held annually since then. Volunteers take part in activities aimed at promoting environmental awareness, particularly on the garbage problem in the bay.

Cabalza adds, “The important thing is to do something for Mother Earth. In 2005, it was purely a coastal cleanup. Then in 2006, we included tree planting. Last year there was an adventure trail.”

Good cause

This year’s preservation day was initially scheduled on May 18 but had to be postponed due to bad weather. The project, fully endorsed by RP Department of Environment and Natural Resources, pushed through on June 1.

The event, held on a pleasant and sunny Sunday, drew in volunteers from the media, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the International Marinelife Alliance (IMA), the Junior Chamber International Philippines (more known as the Jaycees), the Philippine Marines (they came from the nearby Ternate base), and a group of diving aficionados.

At around noon, the different groups began to collect debris scattered on the shorelines, while the divers searched for garbage that had settled underwater. The trash collected were weighed, set apart, and identified for the IMA’s data collection.

Later, the participants were made to choose between birdwatching and going up the adventure trail. The ChinaBusiness-Philippines group chose the kilometer-long trek through the dense forest inhabited by monkeys and birds. A brackish stream also runs through it where migratory ducks fly in every September.

Preach, Practice

Exchange Properties Resources Corp. business development manager Marie Angeli A. Ganal says their development plans are in sync with their environmental thrust. (Their company developed Caylabne Bay Resort.)

“We don’t destroy just for master planning purposes. We work our master plan around nature. Actually at this time in other resorts, it’s humid. But here, it’s breezy because we really don’t cut down trees,” she adds.

Cabalza, meanwhile, says their group plans to do a coastal cleanup in September, the international coastal cleanup month. Still, he admits their efforts are “never enough.”

Fighting Back

As for the erring ocean liners, Ganal says, “[Since] we’re recognized by the Department of Tourism, perhaps there’s something that we can work on, considering that [several] kilometers beyond Caylabne is [still] considered part of our property.”

The company wants to lure more visitors and diving enthusiasts after some divers discovered the nearby Libonis cove as an ideal diving spot.

“For the longest time, the nearest and the nicest diving spots identified are in Batangas. But now, little by little, we’re discovering these nice places on our property,” Ganal says.

print ed: 07/08


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