In a first historic milestone for the year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as represented by DENR 6 regional executive director Livino B. Duran, accepts the role to continue the sustainable protection, conservation and management of the rehabilitated Wetland No. 2, now known as the Boracay Wetland Conservation Park.

Wetland No. 2, located in Sitio Pinaungon, Brgy. Balabag, covers more than seven hectares. It was rehabilitated for three and a half years by its adopter, the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) through the DENR’s Adopt-A-Wetland Program launched in 2018 by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. The Program was aimed at tapping the support of the business sector to help augment the government’s efforts in restoring the wetlands of Boracay Island.

The turn-over of the management of Boracay Wetland Conservation Park from EDC to DENR was symbolized with a coffee table book titled “Wildlife Treasures”, with the presence of Anson M. Tagtag, the OIC Chief of the Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division under the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), on behalf of the EDC. The event served as the highlight for the Philippine celebration of the World Wetlands Day 2022 on February 2, held right inside the rehabilitated Boracay Wetland Conservation Park. This year’s World Wetlands Day theme is: “Wetland Actions for People and Nature.”

“With this representation for the DENR as regional executive director of DENR Region 6, I hereby accept with much gratitude and great appreciation the restored Boracay Wetland No. 2 from the Energy Development Corporation today, February 2, 2022,” Director Duran said.

“Wetland No. 2 is one of the important wetland ecosystems in Boracay Island. With the new ecotourism attractions, this will serve as a learning laboratory – an arboretum for environmental enthusiasts and environmental practitioners,” Duran added.

Former Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Natividad Y. Bernardino underscored the need for balance of toughness and compassion to carry on with the rehabilitation works for Boracay. “The approach we took for wetland rehabilitation clearly demonstrates the power of collective action among the private sector, government and local communities for nature rehab,” she said. Bernardino is now assigned as Bureau Director of the BMB.

“Boracay will not be an island paradise without these wetlands as they play a crucial role in the island’s whole ecosystem – from flood control to source of freshwater for the locals, a home of unique biodiversity. My gratitude to the adopters for heeding the call and the challenge to augment the government’s efforts during the rehab phase,” said Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., Head, BIATF Secretariat, in his message read by Assistant Secretary for Field Operations – Visayas Arleigh Adorable.

“Wetlands are critically vital ecosystems. They provide food, and freshwater and act as a natural defense against flooding. As the kidneys of the earth, they filter water through their vegetation and substrates. They help mitigate climate change and provide healing through their recreational uses. Wetlands are certainly not wastelands,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu who delivered his message off-site and via Zoom meeting app.

“This year’s World Wetlands Day theme: ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’ highlights the importance of concerted actions for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for the benefit of humanity, the environment and biodiversity. Our venue for this year’s celebration, the wetland of Boracay, is very much attuned to this theme,” Cimatu added.

Despite the brown out and the pouring rains, the World Wetlands Day 2022 celebration was successfully conducted in a hybrid setting. Most of the audience were present in the online Zoom meeting platform while around 50 to 60 attended physically on-site while observing the basic health protocols.

Event’s hosts are Joyce A. Se of the BMB and SB Christian Gelito of Brgy. Manoc-manoc. Se and Gelito stood hosting despite the strong winds and the pouring rain, allowing the show to go on.

During the hybrid event, the audience listened as other adopted wetlands in Boracay were presented in the segment Boracay Wetlands Milestones and Accomplishments. Presenters were as follows: Christopher M. Camba, First Vice President for Corporate External Relations of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. for Wetland No. 4; Engr. Oliver Absalon, Water Supply Manager for Boracay Tubi Systems, Inc. for Wetland No. 6; and Rey Nelson Amparo, Team Lead for Boracay Wetland 8 Rehabilitation of JG Summit Olefins Corporation./DENR 6