Following its kickoff last June 14 for the sealing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Provincial Government of Bataan, Municipality of Orani, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Tubo-tubo Fisherfolks Association for the establishment of Baka1Bataan for its Mangrove Adoption and Protection Project, GNPower Mariveles Energy Center Ltd. Co (GMEC) finally commenced the project through a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by GMEC AVP for Community Relations Arcel Madrid, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Atty. Antonino B. Roman, PENR Officer Raul Mamac, and PGENRO OIC Raphael De Leon on September 8 at Tubu-Tubo Sitio Pulo.
The project, with a duration of five years and an option for an extension, is worth around seven million pesos, is part of the company’s flagship Corporate Social Responsibility program called P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S.
P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S. stands for Protect marine life, Reforest land, Optimize wealth from waste, Generate livelihood skills and income, Rehabilitate social infrastructure, Elevate educational opportunities, Safeguard quality health access, and Strengthen disaster resiliency. The mangrove project is under GMEC’s “P” or Protect Marine Life arm.
GMEC aims to develop a five-hectare mangrove area as the company believes that mangrove forests play a vital role in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration. Mangroves absorb carbon three to five times more than mountain forests.
Mangroves also help protect against oceanic natural disasters, such as floods, storm surges, and wave gushes. According to Kabalutan Brgy. Captain and Tubo-Tubo Fisherfolks Association Adviser Jose Sally Raymundo, since the barangay had these forests of mangroves around them, ocean wave surges during typhoons have lessened, as they have experienced during the recent typhoons Egay and Falcon.
“Dati po kapag may bagyo, ang daluyong po ng dagat ay tuluy-tuloy sa amin, walang pong pumipigil. Yung mga bahay po namin inaabot,” Raymundo said. “Pero magmula po ng dumami ang mga bakawan (mangroves), ang tubig dagat ay hindi na nakakarating sa aming kabahayan. Yan po ang biyaya ng bakawan sa amin.”
“Kaya’t napakalaki po ng aming pasasalamat sa GMEC na siyang tumutulong para ma-improve ang aming mangrove area. Meron na kaming proteksyon, nakakatulong pa kami sa kalikasan, magkakaroon pa kami ng dagdag na pagkakakitaan sa hinaharap. Ito po ang aming pangarap at tinutulungan po kami ng GMEC na maabot ito. Salamat, GMEC,” he added.
Aside from environmental objectives, GMEC also intends to provide a viable alternative livelihood to the community. The mangroves will help create a sustainable fishing area, foster healthy breeding grounds for crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, and other seafood. The area could also become a premier tourist destination in the future.
“Katulad niyo, nangangarap din po kami na magkaroon ng mga progresibong komunidad dito sa Bataan thru our P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S. program,” said Madrid. “At ito po ang unang pangarap na gusto naming tuparin, kasama ang fisherfolks, PGENRO, PENR, at ang ating lokal na pamahalaan.”
“Sasamahan po kayo ng GMEC sa pagtupad ng inyong mga pangarap. Kami po ay excited na makita ang progress ng atin pong site dito and hopefully, marami pa po tayong mga pagsasamahang mga proyekto sa mga susunod pang mga taon,” Madrid ended.
“On behalf of the LGU of the province of Bataan, kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa GMEC dahil sa kanilang initiative to improve the mangrove areas dito sa Sitio Pulo. We are excited to have more projects together and we commend the good hearts behind your organization. Salamat po,” Atty. Roman said.
Through P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S., GMEC commits to continually co-create positive change, shared value, and sustainable social and environmental development to ultimately define energy for progress.