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Travel and Tourism

Concerted efforts to save Taal Lake

Earl D.C. Bracamonte - Philstar.com
Concerted efforts to save Taal Lake
Taal Lake and a view of Taal Volcano
Philstar.com/Earl D.C. Bracamonte

MANILA, Philippines — Today, Taal is still the world's smallest active volcano. Taal Lake is continually suffering from pollution brought about by household waste. 

A non-governmental organization, SATALA (Sagip Taal Lake), that Club Balai Isabel helped establish with the support of the private sector, local government units (LGUs), as well as local volunteers, spearheads the movement on the beleaguered lake's conservation through education, awareness, community empowerment, and volunteerism.

"The continuing movement to save the lake from further degradation from household wastes began in August of 2020. Part of this effort is to control the flow of toxins to the lake waters from the run-off in poultries and farms during the rainy season.

"In one of the storms during the pandemic, trash gathered in a single area which caused problems to the residents of Talisay. One of the thrusts of the organization is proper waste disposal so the problem does not escalate. After all, Taal Lake supplies fresh water and livelihood sources to all the 13 surrounding municipalities. Therefore, it is important that trash does not go to the lake waters.

"In the ‘80s, a Japanese study showed the lake to be heavily silted. Twenty years ago, its waters were quite pristine, but now the lake waters threaten marine life. Further studies are now collating data to pinpoint the source of pollution and to properly address it," shared Nelson Terrible, convenor of SATALA and chief executive officer of Club Balai Isabel.

SATALA continues to educate the community about proper waste segregation and continuously works with volunteers to initiate programs such as "Ampon baybay lawa at ilog" that aims to clear the tributaries of the lake from pollutants while at the same time help conserve the rivers and shores of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (TVPL). 

"The 'Ampon baybay lawa at ilog' program works with institutional sponsors, like Club Balai Isabel, who will provide them with the logistics instead of outright cash. In turn, the proponents simply present the logistics that are needed," Terrible added.

"Aqua culture and tourism are the main sources of livelihood in our community. In fact, 700 families were greatly affected by Taal's recent eruption. We constantly monitor volcanic activity so we can implement emergency measures in times of danger.

"Students and residents are encouraged to ask what they can do for Talisay and not the other way around. Waterfalls, mountain spots, heritage sites, and cottage industries help turn the tourism wheels for the community," intimated town mayor Nestor Natanawan.

This year, the Philippine Canoe, Kayak & Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) collaborates with SATALA, Club Balai Isabel, and R&A Event Specialist in hosting "Sagwan," a three-day event that includes a dragon boat competition and paddling crash course open to residents of Barangay Talisay in Batangas, as well as guests during the event.

"We go around all the 'waters' of the country to enjoy all these 'waters.' For this competition, there will be 15 teams from Manila that will fill out four lanes in the men's, women's, and mixed categories. A full dragonboat is comprised of 20 paddlers (10 on each side) together with a steersman at the back and a drummer at the front. For the age categories, Juniors are for entrants until 40 years old, Seniors for those above 40, and Masters are for those aged from 50 to 60. After this competition, we hope to create a local dragonboat team for Talisay, so that the town will have a team of its own," apprized PCKDF president Borgz Pelias.

Sagwan is one of the events that will promote the dwindling tourism sector of Talisay. It is hoped that this will spur Talisay back to its glory as the “wedding capital of Batangas,” which got lost due to the global pandemic.

"We are not an advocate of a one-time, big-time clean up. Rather, a constant participation of local folks, especially in waste segregation. This has to be a grassroots level movement. We need help from all sectors. Of the 37 tributaries of Taal, eleven are in Talisay.

"We want to make 'Sagwan' an annual event and eventually an international event. After all, no gasoline is needed in dragonboat racing, just team spirit! We also have the Ginang Tala every November and the Miss EcoTourism since 2010. In the latter pageant, contestants use recycled products from trash and create them as wearable garments.

"We educate residents with the help of several agencies like the DepEd and Alliance of Christianity (with the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Parish Pastoral Council), among many others. We supply trash cans all over the communities to prevent the trash from getting to the lake. And have implemented the 'no segregation, no collection' policy," Terrible concluded.

"The dragonboat, as a race, started in the 1800s in China. It has remained as one of the international competitions in the Southeast Asian Games. During the summer months, there are several local competitions around the Philippines. For Sagwan, there will be sports clinics for kids and enthusiasts with members of the Dragonboat National Team in kayak and boat paddling. There will also be a professional photography competition of a hundred lensmen during the event," informed event organizer Ricci Ang.

So far, concerted efforts have shown positive changes. For instance, from seven truckloads of trash, the town of Talisay now only has two; saving a lot of money for the LGU and creating more opportunities for the constituents.

Christmas lighting 

Sitting between Tagaytay and Nasugbu, Batulao is a perfect hideaway for those who love the laidback Tagaytay cool atmosphere and the sunny beaches of Batangas. 

Situated 80 kilometers south of Metro Manila, PHirst is nestled on the foothills of Mt. Batulao — where weekends can be spent to suit one’s outdoor and active lifestyle. 

PHirst Park Homes invites everyone to a grand Christmas Lighting and open house event on December 3 in all of its sites in Tanza, Lipa, San Pablo, Calamba, Pandi, Naic, Batulao, Magalang, General Trias, Tayabas, Balanga, and Baliwag. 

RELATED: Women’s Month: Investing in ‘nanays’ helps Tagaytay business grow despite pandemic

SAVE TAAL LAKE

TAAL VOLCANO

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