Sprouts of Hope
After two weeks of suffering from the worst oil spill in the country, the island province of Guimaras shows a glimmer of hope. New leaves have sprouted from this mangrove plant in the village of Tando, as well as in other affected areas. This is proof that there’s still life after the MT Solar 1 oil spill.
Unfortunately though, according to UP Visayas biologist and mangrove expert Dr. Rex Sadaba, new leaves may form from the affected mangroves maybe because simply put, the toxins haven’t seeped in yet into the plant’s system.
Equally disappointing are these facts from the provincial government of Guimaras – 239 kilometers of coastline, 105 hectares of mangrove areas, 58 hectares of seaweed plantations, 4 000 families or 26 thousand individuals, 1 180 fisherfolks, are either directly or indirectly hit by the bunker fuel oil that leaked out of the sunken ship.
The province also reported the occurrence of fishkills in at least 5 villages, and numerous cases of respiratory tract infections, stomach disorders, skin diseases among villagers.
I must say Petron is doing its best to save Guimaras, especially their people in the field who oversee the clean-up operations. We see them at Raymen Resort in Nueva Valencia (which by the way has a beautiful beach and remains oil-free) and in other places where with the help of the residents, they clean up the messy oil slick. But as of now, Petron as well as Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation, the owner of the ill-fated ship, have to do more. They’re almost done with the clean-up, now comes the rehabilitation phase.
I’ve mentioned in one of my reports that “Marahil pinakamasaklap na para sa mga bata ang naganap na oil spill dahil simula ngayon, ang kanilang alaala ng mapuputing buhangin ng Guimaras, may bahid na ng maitim na langis.” Well, we could only hope that things will be better for the mangroves of Guimaras, and for all other marine and human lives hit by the tragedy.
Hopefully, the mangrove plant pictured above will still grow, just like the mangroves of Semirara, another island which was also hit by an oil spill but was able to bounce back. As what Dr. Sadaba had said, we just have to wait and see if the mangroves will survive and at the same time hope for the best for Guimaras.
And by the way, I’m echoing Dr. Sadaba’s call to all those companies trying their anti-pollution products on the oiled mangroves, please, stay away from the plants unless your products are already proven safe for mangroves.