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Puerto Galera

The Road: Moving on from Aninuan

For the last 5 years Puerto Galera has been Reef-World’s home but with an ever expanding conservation team and the ability to increase conservation outputs, we were fast becoming a big fish in a rather small, but well liked, pond. So a little while ago now, on the 6th May, with heavy hearts, we loaded up a Jeepney and began the 800km (37 hour) journey across the Philippines from Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro to our new home in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. As with living in any developing country, the ride was less than smooth. Twice the jeepney was delayed because of full ferries but at least this allowed Sam and Alan, our project coordinators, a chance to watch a beautiful moon rise and get some much needed sleep before the 1am ferry, which eventually left at 330am. At 7am the jeepney and load was greeted on Panay by blazing sunshine and preparations were made for a day of travelling. Making good progress, the jeepney arrived at Dumangas Port, Iloilo in time for yet another full ferry to depart without us. Despite this, driver and crew always remained in good spirits and demonstrated unrivalled driving skills; pushing on constantly except for dinner and ferries. Even the caretakers of our new houses greeted us with smiles despite us arriving in Dumaguete at 3am, 36 hours after starting out. At 4am, unloading our new office and house had finished and much sleep was had, though not before a quick ‘we made it’ photo opportunity. Unrelenting, the jeepney crew were awake 3 hours later and preparing to leave for the return journey!

For Reef-world, Dumaguete boasts many logistical bonus’ that residing in Puerto Galera just wasn’t providing. Better internet speeds to make those conservation emails deliver that little bit faster, closer to international airports (in both travel time and distance), and the chance to have closer networking relationships with a wider range of stakeholders have all been factors in our relocation to this place we now call home. And while we will miss little Aninuan and Puerto Galera we are consoled by the fact we will be back there soon to coordinate the yearly Green Fins assessments.

Reef-World is back in the Region

After spending a good 5 months in the UK this year we were pleased to say goodbye to the Great Expensive British Pound and return to where our conservation dollars go further and get stuck back in to the grassroots work Reef-World does so well. While its great catching up with friends and family, we do begin to feel somewhat detached from what's going on back in the Region when we are only seeing it through our laptops.

After what seemed like an incredibly easy journey from Bristol we arrived into stinky Manila on Monday 3rd October. We got a great deal for only £540 return to Manila with Emirates for a 12 month ticket. It was great to catch up with our Government partners the next day, hear what they have been up to and make our next plans. It was agreed that the volunteers we have managed to recruit through the Zoox Experience Programme presented a good opportunity to introduce Green Fins to a new location, Cebu which is the biggest diving destination (in terms of tourist numbers) in the Philippines. We will continue to base ourselves in Puerto Galera where Green Fins has already been introduced and where we feel very much at home now. So we travelled down to Puerto Galera the following day and collected the many boxes (full of what?!) from our friend and moved into a small flat. We have good roots here now which was emphasised by the fact that by the following evening the bedside lamps I made by hand almost 2 years ago were in their place, our oven was linked up and our mobile office was unpacked with internet access and staplers at the ready. It was very nice to be back and see our many friends.

But we didn't rest for long and we are now in Cebu for an orientation, meeting the local government guys, NGOs and diving community, hearing the woeful tales of destructive fishing and corruption. We will spend a week here working out the best place to base ourselves and the volunteers, and identify the major environmental issues we can begin to focus on using Green Fins. The official launch will be held mid November and this time we are hoping for a lot of media attention. It's absolutely pouring and pouring with rain, which has made trawling around all the dive centres today a miserable task! We have just heard that a typhoon will be merrily making its way through the central region of the Philippines over the coming days, the centre of it predicted to pass a few hundred kilometers north of us :( While this does not present any danger for us (we will not be taking any flights or boats of course) it means we are in for more soggy and miserable weather! On the positive side, in only one day we have met some fantastic individuals, received many pledges of favours and support in various shapes and sizes and we are very enthusiastic about bringing Green Fins here.

Dried, salted fish is a staple food in the Philippines, eaten for breakfast, lunch and supper! There is of course still a lot of follow-up work to be done in Puerto Galera and Anilao, the sites where the project has already been introduced and we have not forgotten this. We have applied for financial support to help us with this. We are always looking for help so if any of you are nearby and fancy donning some Green Fins then please do contact us. Right now we are donning our soggy slippers and enjoying a nice cup of PG tips pyramids (fresh from the UK) and some lechon manok Cebuano style!