Cagayancillo’s caravan of marine creatures

The wise old Lolo Lapu-Lapu (Grandfather Grouper).  The clueless young Piwi Pawikan (Piwi the Turtle).  The strong and brave Kapitan Barongoy (Captain Flying Fish).  These are just some of the colorful marine characters who went onstage and entertained the residents of Cagayancillo, Palawan, over the summer, imparting valuable conservation lessons in the process.

An Ecological Theater Caravan went around five Cagayancillo villages performing plays that depict messages like the benefits of marine protected areas (MPA), the importance of different marine habitats, and the consequences of marine pollution.The performers were composed of 17 out-of-school youths from Puerto Princesa, Palawan.  The young actors underwent environmental training and theater workshops given by the Palawan Conservation Corps (PCC), a local environmental NGO that has been working with out-of-school youths since 1999.

Conservation International-Philippines tapped PCC to create a show for Cagayancillo. The Ecological Caravan was intended to help popularize and gain wider support to ongoing efforts to establish new MPAs in the municipality, in a manner that will entertain local communities and encourage them to participate in the process.

Five new MPAs are currently being proposed in Cagayancillo, while expansions to the municipality’s four existing ones are also being considered.  These efforts are estimated to lead to the protection of an estimated more than 600 hectares of Cagayancillo’s waters.

The Eco-Caravan shows were held in the villages where some of these proposed and existing MPAs are located. And even as the shows entertained and educated its audiences, meetings were also being held with key stakeholders and local leaders to discuss the MPA establishment efforts.

For many of the remote municipality’s residents, it was their first time to watch a theater performance, and the audiences consisted of amused faces young and old alike.

One of the show’s most-liked segments featured the story of a group of marine creatures who left their homes because of threats from pollution and illegal fishing, eventually finding more hospitable waters in the town of Cagayancillo. The story helped highlight and foster appreciation for the town’s marine resources, which are relatively richer and more pristine than most places of the country.

Town Mayor Joel Carceler also enjoyed the show and hopes that it would help strengthen support to the town’s marine conservation efforts. “I want to call on our people to continue what we have started in protecting our waters and fighting illegal activities,” he said. “I hope that everyone will have the proper awareness and appreciation of the importance of biodiversity conservation and that everyone will help in fighting illegal and destructive fishing in Cagayancillo.”