Cleaning up in paradise

Cleaning up in paradise

The trash we leave unattended on land almost always ends up in the sea

- in Travel
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@Ferina Santos
Snorkeling and trash don’t make a very positive experience, especially to those who are starting to learn enjoying deep water activities. Let’s not wait for this to happen to us.

We all know how blessed we are living in Davao Region where a drive up to the mountains can also end up as a trip to the ocean’s edge. One can climb up Samal’s highest peak, Mt. Puting Bato, and after enjoying the view there climb down and jump into the island’s warm waters for a relaxing swim. Living in paradise definitely has its perks.

Another take on this is cliff diving, where you scale limestone cliffs to jump off the top and land into the waters of Davao Gulf. Perhaps you’ve heard of cliff diving in Samal Island and, yes, there a lot of places where you can safely dive off limestone cliffs. I’ve only been to one place for cliff diving in Samal Island, and it’s Sabang that holds the memories for me.

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This is the basic cliff or “Level 1” in Sabang. It does not seem daunting when you’re looking at it from the boat. Try scaling the limestone cliff barefoot to get to the top portion (where there’s a guy in a green hoodie), jump, and then let’s talk about how extreme that is. (Photo by Anne Dodds)

Sabang is a small nook composed of limestone cliffs that have been a frequent hangout for the locals living in Kaputian. If you’re familiar with this place, it’s the one with the grotto on top of its cliffs. From the government-operated Kaputian Beach Resort, one can walk towards the cliffs in Sabang. It takes around 20 minutes to get there, passing through residential areas and a little coastal farmland just before the edge of Kaputian itself.

Throughout the years, its fame for cliff diving spread, clearly seen by the number of people who were there when we arrived on Independence Day. But because there was a crowd, I suddenly changed my mind about cliff diving and decided to explore what was underneath Sabang instead.

Without placing too many expectations because the surrounding waters were honestly quite full of garbage (sigh), I braved the trash and explored the bottom. Here are photos of what I found:

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This is what Sabang looks like underneath just from floating at the surface.

 

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Blessed to be living nearby, a father and his son on his back spend quality time playing in the waters by riding on a log of wood for buoyancy.

 

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The same father and son (right) and the green film (left) is actually floating trash which was found around the area.

Despite the initial heaviness in my heart seeing the state of Sabang, I realized this is not the end — we can still do something. Each of us has the choice to act within our own capabilities. When I was younger, I was taught to pick up trash that I saw, even if it wasn’t my own trash. This is exactly what I did in Sabang. I swam around cleaning up whatever I could reach, being careful not to touch something poisonous or deadly.

Each of us should be aware that the trash we leave unattended on land almost always ends up in the sea. We can blame irresponsible tourists or lax rules, yet ultimately, this is our home. If we see trash in our own home, don’t we pick it up ourselves even if our guests were the ones who left it there?

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Snorkeling and trash don’t make a very positive experience, especially to those who are starting to learn enjoying deep water activities. Let’s not wait for this to happen to us.

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