Sunday, 30 March 2014

MAMBULAOWATCH: The rescue of the beach in Parang

This was the beach of Parang when I saw it in  the summer of 2011. Background shows a portion of the South Poblacion, while the three mountaintop cell sites announce progress - at least in texting - in Mambulao.
The bay water along the seawall behind the municipal building, right in front of the famous Boardwalk. This was in 2012.

Rubbish ... rubbish and more rubbish ...the sad state of the beach persisted  till 2012 and gradually improved last year after cleanup jobs were carried out by Mambulaoans..
 Notice the blue sky? How come the bay water doesn't reflect its blue? Answer: Pollution from operations nearby - behind the municipal building to be exact...  the gold mining ops were there as of May 2013

Are they -- these squatters -- the  culprits behind the rubbish? The house owners said all the baranggays along the Manila Bay coastline are contributing to the pileup..

Wow naman ... but the Mambulao LGU says the dirty beach is now history.


I MADE the first noise about the deathly state of the beach in Parang in May 2011.

Painstakingly, this holler drummed into some ears and spurred the much-needed action to save this village shoreline.

Three years onwards today, this beach is regaining its former glory.

This sandy stretch in the fishing town of Mambulao was the playground of my youth in the 50s and 60s. It used to boast of pristine waters teeming with life-sustaining fish, shellfish and alimasag and fairly clean, fine sand that stretched 1.5km from the edge of the bumpy Larap road to the foot of the makeshift bridge that linked the barrio of Parang to the Poblacion on the other side of the mangrove river.

When I arrived at my childhood home in Parang one early morning of April 2011 for a quick sojourn, my first agenda was to see how the beach had been all those years from the 70s.

I was appalled by what I found: the entire stretch was carpeted with community rubbish that I had to punch a hole through the dirt so my feet could touch the sand.

Since it was early in the morning just before the sun warmed, I could see some young kids crapping along this stretched while their mothers looked elsewhere – pa dedma.

My first impulse was to take lots of pictures of the newly-risen garbage dump and as soon as I came back to Manila, I launched on Facebook the site “Taga Mambulao, Camarines Norte Ka Ba?” and called the attention of the local government to the dire state of the beach.

It appeared that nobody had seen this beach all through those years that it remained the way it was – a stretch of coastal shore turned into a community garbage dump just some 1km away from the seat of the municipal government.

The offending pictures showing the ravaged shoreline popped on this Facebook account as well as in other picture websites such as Flickr.

Gradually, overseas Mambulaons picked up on the ugly sight and began exchanging comments – and they were not encouraging – on the sad state of Parang beach, with most of them blaming the squatter people along the shoreline and the failure of the local government to do something positive about it.

When your news tunnel MWBuzz -- short for Mambulaoans Worldwide Buzz (, which is an online news catering to the info/news needs of overseas Mambulaons -- launched in November 2011, seven months after I first discovered the rubbish dump, it advocated the cleanup and rehab of this beach and the bay waters.

MWBuzz’s beach and bay crusade continues.

Under its logo, MWBuzz carried a recurrent poster of black background with this message:

“Save Mambulao Bay!
Stop gold miners from polluting it some more.

The bay is sick and could die soon … let’s act now before it’s too late!”

The online news site was followed by another Facebook account called “Save Mambulao Bay & Beach of Parang Crusade” which I launched early last year to drumbeat the need to find ways to save these two gifts from Mother Nature.

The mayor, Ricarte “Dong” Padilla, took cognizance of the issue at hand and encouraged the community to help in saving the ancient shoreline by not throwing household refuse into it.

Through the next 24 months, occasional cleanup activities were carried out by coastal residents, students and LGU personnel.

The LGU, as a direct initiative, erected billboards along the shoreline warning coastal people against throwing rubbish into the beach under pain of costly fines set by a municipal ordinance.

And Padilla went around the baranggays sitting on the coast of Mambulao Bay enjoining the villagers to help in the cleanup, telling them not to dump their rubbish into the water behind their houses.

It’s worth mentioning that in April 2012, six months after MWBuzz was launched, the first effort to bring new life to Parang beach and its bay water was carried out by a group of Mambulaoans who are alumni of the local high school.

Last weekend, another of such efforts took place, spearheaded by the LGU personnel; many residents turned up to help rid the shoreline of the stinking piles.

I am heartened to see fresh pictures of cleanup activities posted on Facebook; pictures showing us that even the beast of burden – the lowly kalabaw – came up to help extract debris such as plastic and paper wastes embedded in the beach sand. The beast was shown dragging a giant rake across it.

With Vinzon town’s Calaguas Island drawing more and more tourists into its powdery sand and crystal blue waters, the residents of Mambulao should gradually wake up to the reality that the beach of Parang is their only natural resource that could be nurtured till that day when it begins to attract visitors who would pay for a leisurely walk along the sand and a relaxing dip in its cool water.

To those who appreciated the need to make the beach of Parang come alive again and to rescue the mine silt-polluted Mambulao Bay, my booming 21-gun salute.

March 31, 2014
Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea

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