"KAYAK BOYS" Wheng Daño and Jason Germilla shared to Palawan News their experiences in collecting ocean trash drifted to the Big Lagoon. (Photo by Genn Magdayao)
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Lagoon caretaker and kayak rental workers from Lagoon Kayak Rental Inc. (LKRI) begin their day by collecting ton-loads of debris washed ashore in Big Lagoon, one of El Nido’s most popular tourist locations.

Since 2014, they have devoted themselves to this cause voluntarily.

Wheng Daño, one of the “kayak boys,” told Palawan News that this problem has long been prevalent in the area and has worsened over the years.

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Based on the labels, these plastic bottles may have gone a long way (Photo by Genn Magdayao)

“2014 po nagsimula ako dito at simula noon ay palagi na kaming naglilinis dito. Delikado kasi at nakakasira ng marine life, nakakain ng mga isda, pawikan at mga ibon [ang mga basura]. Madalas namin na nakukuha ay mga plastic bottle at mga shampoo,” he said.

“Madami po ang nakukuha namin dito lalo na kapag panahon ng habagat. Nakakahiya sa mga turista kasi pangit tingnan,” Daño added.

This prompted Daño, with the help of his coworkers, to initiate collecting ocean trash.

Citing the adverse effect of marine pollution, Daño recalled a recent incident where their group rescued a sea turtle entangled in a fishing net.

“Kahapon lang ma’am natrap ‘yong pawikan sa lambat na nakuha namin. Mga 11 inches po yong laki,” he said.

Of the more than 10 sacks of garbage they collected that day, the group was certain that most of it were drifted to the area from a foreign origin.

“Lagi po yan, ma’am. Kung hindi bote ng mineral water, mga bote ng lotion o shampoo pero yung sulat (label) chinese o kaya malaysian o Indonesian. Simula noon hanggang ngayon parang hindi pa rin nababawasan ang dami ng basura, parang mas dumadami pa,” Jason Germina, Big Lagoon caretaker said.

The group admitted that marine pollution is a worldwide concern and that there is only so much they can do. However, this does not prevent them from contributing to the environment, which they believe has benefited them.

“Kung walang nature, walang tourism. Kalikasan ang pinapakinabangan natin kaya dapat tulungan din natin ito para hindi masira,” Germina said.

Their volunteer work extends to shelling out funds from their own pockets for garbage bags and other materials.

The group also urged their fellow tourism workers and even the locals to help them in maintaining the cleanliness of their tourist destinations.

“Kung pwede ‘yong mga turista ay ‘wag na magdala ng maraming plastics dito, kung mayroon man ay ilagay sa maayos na basurahan. Kung pwede din mga eco-friendly din na mga gamit ang dalhin nila. Tsaka sana magkaroon palagi ng coastal clean up,” Daño said.

“Panawagan namin sa mga lokal at LGU na sana tulungan na ma-maintain ang kalinisan. Hindi mahirap ang kalinisan,” Germilla said.

When asked until when are they going to continue doing this volunteer work, they answered “hanggat kaya po namin”.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.