Binalbagan Campus faculty and staff toured the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve and Sanctuaries camp facility on April 22 to view the site which will house the incoming batch of freshmen Fisheries scholars.
The scholarship is funded by the Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and implemented by the Danjugan Island Environmental Education Program.
The camp facility will be home to 60 DA-ACEF and DEEP scholars, 10 CHMSC institutional scholars, and 1 Gertrudes N. Panoy Foundation scholar for the Bachelor of Science in Fisheries program.
The last slot was filled by the Gertrudes N. Panoy Foundation, but more than 100 applicants vied for the other 70 slots and were subjected to the screening process facilitated by Binalbagan faculty members and their counterparts from the Philippine Reef and Rain Forest Conservation Foundation Inc.
While in Danjugan Island, which is a project of the PRRCFI, the faculty and staff were oriented by Island Manager Dave Albao.
He related the perennial problem of overfishing in the area and how it is a diverse socio-political dilemma that cannot be singlehandedly eradicated.
Still it does not stop them from rallying support for conservation efforts for Danjugan which is one of the few coral reef sanctuaries left in Negros.
Albao said that the scholarships for Fisheries students hope to raise up champions of conservation in four years’ time.
CHMSC President Renato Sorolla also joined the educational tour to view the facilities firsthand, together with Vice-president for Administration and Finance Salvador Zaragosa, Jr. and Board Secretary Roy Ramos.
The president responded to Albao’s orientation by suggesting the possibility of a partnership with CHMSC’s Criminology Department, which now includes a subject on coastal patrol and protection.
After the orientation, the Binalbagan group was allowed to swim in the Third Lagoon for free and experience the beauty of the island for which the conservationists are intensely advocating protection.
Later in the day, when asked regarding the issue of human intrusion in the pristine area, Albao clarified that though the facility is technically intrusive, they have kept it to a minimum—just enough to patrol the area against animal poachers and illegal fishing activities, and ensure that campers experience the fullness of life in this ecosystem.
He reinforced (translated from the vernacular), “We also dispose of our trash back in the mainland. We will never use air-conditioning either because the noise from the motors will disrupt animal breeding.”
Danjugan Island will serve as a laboratory to the Fisheries scholars, and as an instructional facility, it can boost their knowledge by leaps and bounds as the sea and the marine wildlife are right at their doorstep.
President Sorolla brimmed with hope at the prospect, “We must improve the quality of instruction so we can produce young people who can really contribute to the development of our nation.”