It is always a slow day at the port of Medina, a small town north of Misamis Oriental fronting Gingoog Bay. Save for a big fishing vessel quietly docked in the town’s concrete port, traffic and activities are almost always very light.
The big fishing boat was captured by local authorities in the neighboring town of Magsaysay for violating the Fisheries Code of the Philippines (Republic Act 8550) when they illegally entered the municipal waters. The town of Magsaysay, having no facilities to detain such a big vessel, used the idle port of Medina, once an active sea port before Balingoan and Gingoog took most of the sea traffic.
What’s left in the waters of Medina are local fishermen who find the concrete port of little use to their usual sea life. Sea activities in the town’s water are limited to small paddle and trigger boats trying their luck to hook their biggest catch; the town’s rubber boat patrolling the area; kids jumping off the concrete port and playing in the water; or occasional scuba divers looking for macroscopic subjects that dwell in the pillars of the port.
Slow paced and uneventful, is a typical day at Medina Port.
But on the morning of September 17, 2011, the town woke up early and came to life. Scuba divers from as far as Pagadian, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Gingoog and Manila trooped to Medina Port while local officials and residents gathered to witness the unusually busy port. A covered tent was setup, a podium in front, seats carefully arranged, a streamer welcoming guests and a loud sound system attracting attention. The mood was upbeat, the crowd was enthusiastic. Local kids played around while the elders took some seats. Town Mayor Pacifico Pupos, other local government officials and police force were also present.
It was International Coastal Cleanup Day, and a massive underwater cleanup activity was about to happen. More than thirty divers, including me, heeded the call to dive with a purpose in an event dubbed as Dive Against Debris and organized by Duka Dive Special in cooperation of the local Municipality of Medina.
Tons of garbage were collected in an hour of diving. Old tires, clothes, bottles, plastics, tin cans, fish nets, wrappers, toys and other foreign objects and domestic waste filled a lot of net bags. I filled a total of three while enjoying the underwater scenery of the town. Seeing some unique nudibranches, school of sardines, macro glass shrimps, school of yellow-tail fish, lionfish and other tropical marine species was just a bonus.
It is only once a year but it has a long term impact. It was a very fulfilling day for everyone around. It really feels great to do something good for our underwater friends but it would be better if every diver makes it a habit. Make each dive count, it wouldn’t hurt us if we pick up some thrash.
I long for the moment when a day dedicated for cleanup will not be necessary, when people become more responsible and sensitive to our marine resources, when the citizenry make it a habit to cleanup everyday or better yet, completely stop throwing waste into the sea. But until then, we will continue to lobby for the awareness and for active participation of everyone in events such as the International Coastal Cleanup Day.
P.S. Thank you so much Sir Mario Jugador and Ate Claudia Artazo for the invite 🙂
How to Get to Medina, Misamis Oriental
You can go to Medina from Manila via Cagayan de Oro or Butuan.
Via Cagayan de Oro
From Lumbia Airport of Cagayan de Oro, ride a van (~P200.00) or a cab (~P200.00) or a public jeepney (2 transfers at P24.00) to Agora Market where you can catch a bus to Butuan. It is a two-and-a-half hour ride at ~P180.00) to the town of Medina.
From Butuan airport, catch a motorella or taxi to take you to the bus terminal and hop to any Cagayan bound bus. The bus will make a stop at Medina.