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Freeman Region

At Bien-Unido, BOHOL 30 divers join 1st Virgin Mary pilgrimage

- The Philippine Star

CEBU, Philippines - To celebrate the birthday of Mama Mary, at least 30 divers joined the 1st Underwater Pilgrimage to her image, set two years ago at 80 feet under the waters of the Danajon Bank at Bien Unido town in Bohol.

The project was aimed at inviting more divers in the area with hopes of shooing away illegal fishers.

Mayor Niño Rey Boniel of Bien Unido said that, since they installed the image of Mama Mary (and one of the Sto. Niño) in 2010, they heard fewer dynamite bombing in the area. He said the locals are by nature faithful to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Child, but considering the vastness of the reef, the areas where the religious icons are placed may be spared, but not the whole of the 7,600-hectare Double Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Records showed that at least 20 bombings were heard daily at Danajon, but this stopped when the LGU brought divers and tourists into the area.

The presence of tourists at Danajon Bank also provided alternative livelihood for the locals of Bien Unido, said Boniel, adding that if divers start to come here, local fishers will be hired as guards, while their boats will be used for transportation.

The pilgrimage organizers however did not hope to see change overnight, but Fr. Charlie Orobia, vice president of the Knight-Stewards of the Sea, Inc. (Seaknights), believes that constant monitoring will help in achieving such goal.

Seaknights, a team of SCUBA divers, was the group that installed the three-ton, 14-foot high icon of Mother Mary and the Sto. Niño in September 8, 2010. Prior to the dive pilgrimage, a Holy Mass, officiated by Fr. Edgardo Deligero and Orobia himself, was held before the team set off to dive. —Liv G. Campo (FREEMAN)

BIEN UNIDO

CHARLIE OROBIA

DANAJON BANK

DOUBLE BARRIER REEF MARINE PARK

EDGARDO DELIGERO AND OROBIA

HOLY MASS

KNIGHT-STEWARDS OF THE SEA

LIV G

MAMA MARY

MAYOR NI

MOTHER MARY AND THE STO

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