The seas take center stage with “Pista Sa Kadagatan,” a celebration of Bohol’s rich marine resources and its advocacy to protect them.

Hosted by the Alliance française de Manille, in partnership with the provincial government and Kasing Sining, the Pista Sa Kadagatan was a three-day educational summit caravan aimed at raising awareness of marine conservation and to promote ecological sustainability among coastal communities in the province.

In celebration of World Tourism Day, the festivities opened on Sept. 27 at the Ceremonial Hall of the New Capitol Building with educational symposiums on Bohol’s marine resources, ranging from scientific to cultural talks from invited experts.

According to the Alliance française de Manille, one of the oldest foreign cultural institutions established in Manila and the country, this celebration is aligned with its 2024 project entitled “The Oceans Programme”.

This program is geared towards promoting marine conservation through education, partnering with local coastal communities and help them in the efforts addressing ecological issues, and capacitate them to become advocates of sustainability.

“We are with you in the fight to conserve our rich marine resources for the coming generations to enjoy in the future,” said Cristina Ortega, the President of Alliance française de Manille.

The provincial government, as the partner organization for the event, helped with logistics as this activity highlights Bohol’s recent UNESCO Global Geopark designation and celebrates the connection between the province’s geological formations and the sea.

Under the Strategic Change Agenda on environmental sustainability of the Aumentado-Balite administration, the provincial government is hoping that this can help address the many challenges Bohol is facing in marine conservation.

“Like other marine areas, our seas face threats, such as overfishing, disruptive fishing practices, pollution, and climate change-related impact,” said Center for Culture and Arts (CCAD) officer-in-charge Emerson Pinos, representing Gov. Aris Aumentado during the opening day.

Kasing Sining performed its original dance theater performance entitled “Usa Ka Isla,” a play that focuses on the devastating impact of Typhoon Odette in 2021 on the local coastal communities all over the province.

On its second day, Sept. 28, participants traveled to Pamilacan Island in Baclayon for an immersion activity, interacting with the local community on the topic of fishing, tourism, marine conservation, sea-related local traditions and beliefs, and the issues they are facing as residents of the island.

This activity sought to create a dialogue among national government Agencies and Non-government Organizations with local communities.

Participants also explored the island and visited its historical landmarks to get a clearer picture of Pamilacan’s rich marine history from a whale hunting community to becoming an eco-tourist destination today.

The immersion activity was in coordination with the municipality of Baclayon under the leadership of Mayor Alvin Uy.

On the third day, event organisers partnered with Anda and Mayor Angelina Simacio, as participants will visit Lamanoc Island in Anda, known as the cradle of Bohol civilisation, to learn its precolonial history, its extensive cave systems, conservation programs initiated by its LGU, and the Academe’s role in marine protection through research.

In the afternoon, attendees will take part in a “Call to action” activity, a sharing of learnings on the three days they were immersed with Bohol’s local coastal communities.

They will perform a Panaad sa Kadagatan, an oath to help the province and its initiatives to protect its seas from various ecological issues. With this event, organisers hope to host more “Pistas sa Kadagatan” in the future as a way of reminding Boholanos to take action and be a part of marine environmental sustainability.

This three-day event was sponsored by Le ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères, the National Commission for Culture and Arts, Modala Beach Resort, the First Consolidated Bank, INC., Holy Name University, 1834 Gin, the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, Bohol Island UNESCO Global Geopark, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Archdiocese of Tagbilaran, the Archdiocese of Talibon, Office of 1st District Rep. Edgar Chatto, Office of 2nd District Rep. Vanessa Aumentado, Office of the 3rd District Rep. Alexie Tutor, and Jose Bayani. (PIMO/GMC)