CREDITS: Manuel Lester S. Niere (raw footage), Adrienne B. Tupas (video editing), Louise Michelle C. Perez (production staff), Myrrh Abigail Krista A. Procianos (production staff), Maria Carmel A. Rimpos (production staff), Ma. Khrisma T. Soliven (script), Paul Isaias P. Tenepere (script), Adrienne B. Tupas (video editing), Licelle B. Varias (production staff), Alon J. Velasquez (narration), and Christine Ann O. Wang (production staff)
Camille Victoria M. Fernandez
[LATHALAIN] Nabahala ang aking ama sa madalas na pag-ubo ni Buddy kaya naman minabuti niya nang dalhin siya sa aming pinagkakatiwalaang beterinaryo. Kaya lang, nang siya ay sinusuri na, natuklasan namin na hindi lang pala ubo ang karamdaman niya. Bagkus, bumatid sa amin ang isa pang sakit na noon lamang namin narinig— ang Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor (CTVT).
‘Di pangkaraniwang kanser
Ang CTVT ay isang nakahahawang kanser na ekslusibo lamang sa pamilya ng mga aso. Karaniwan ang CTVT sa mga bansang may klimang tropikal kagaya ng Pilipinas lalo pa kung maraming pagala-galang aso na aktibo sa sekswal na aktibidad.
Ang sagabal at masakit na bukol
Ang pagkakaroon ng tumor na may kasamang pagtutulo ng dugo kung ito ay tumubo sa ari, ay sinyales na positibo na sa CTVT ang isang aso. Karaniwan sa eksternal partikular sa ari umuusbong ang bukol sapagkat ang pakikipagtalik ang pinakamabilis at pinakamadalas na paraan upang maipasa ito.
Bukod pa rito, pwede rin namang tumubo ang bukol sa mga mucous membrane gaya ng mga labi, ilong, mata, o kahit na sa biyak na balat kung magkakaroon ng direktang kontak si “Bantay” sa asong positibo sa naturang sakit. Halimbawa, inamoy niya ang ari ng asong may ganitong kondisyon, ilang araw lang ay mahahalata na ang pagtubo ng bukol sa kaniyang ilong. Kung didilaan naman niya ang anumang parte ng katawan na mayroong bukol ay gayun din naman ang mangyayari sa kanyang mga labi. Maski kung makagat siyat ng isang asong may CTVT ay mahahawaan na rin siya nito.
Sa kabilang banda, walang pagbabago sa kasiglahan ng aso gaya ng sa pagkain o pakikipaglaro kung siya ay tinamaan ng CTVT. Wala ring taning ang buhay ng aso sa oras na siya ay mahawaan nito hindi kagaya ng kanser ng mga tao. Kaya lang, maaaring maging sagabal sa aso ang tumor lalo pa kung ito ay patuloy sa paglaki at pagkalat sa iba pang parte ng katawan.
Samantala, may mga naitalang kaso rin naman na ang CTVT ay kumalat sa mga lamang-loob ngunit ito ay napakabihira lamang. Subalit hindi dapat ito ikakampante ng may-ari sapagkat sa oras na kumalat ang tumor sa mga iba pang parte ng loob ng katawan gaya ng kulani, baga, atay, at pali o spleen, mga kadalasang lugar na pinagtutubuan ng tumor, maaari itong magdulot ng matinding komplikasyon.
Ang kaso ni Buddy
Sa kaso ni Buddy, nakuha niya ang sakit buhat sa pakikipagtalik sa aso ng aming kapit-bahay. Bilang nagpalaki sa kaniya, masasabi ko na gaya ng ibang lalaking
lalang siya ay napakaaktibo sa pakikipagtalik kaya naman basta may pagkakataon na siya ay makalabas ng aming bodega na kaniyang binabanatayan ay sinusulit niya namang talaga. Naaalala ko na tumitili pa siya sa gabi kapag hindi siya nakalabas sa maghapon lalo pa kapag nakikita niya ang mga babaeng aso ng aming mga kapit-bahay na pagala-gala sa labas.
Iyon nga lang, dahil sa hindi lamang sa pakikipagtalik nakukuha ang CTVT kung hindi pati rin sa pakikipagsalamuha, nahawaan na nga ni Buddy ang kaniyang dalawang kapatid, sina Scavenger at Bunso, na kasama niya sa pagbabantay ng aming bodega.
Kumpara sa kaniyang mga kapatid, ang kondisyon ni Buddy ay malala na. May lumalabas at tumutulo ng dugo mula sa kaniyang ari lalo pa kapag siya ay nakaalapas at nakipagtalik na naman sa mga asong nasa kalye. Mayroon na ring kahalong dugo ang kaniyang pag-ihi at namamaga na ang kaniyang ari dahil sa pagbulwak ng mismo nitong muscle gawa ng paglaki ng tumor. Dahil sa pangyayaring ito, minabuti naming dalhin siya kasama si Bunso upang ipakapon sa ospital ng mga hayop dito sa College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas Los Baños (UPLB).
Bago sila sumailalim sa operasyon, sinuri muna sila ng mga estudyante ng naturang kolehiyo na sina Matt Calibo, Sherwin Camba, at iba pa nilang kagrupo. Ayon kay Calibo, pareho na ngang positibo sa CTVT ang dalawang aso. Ang kay Buddy ay malaki na samantalang ang kay Bunso ay hindi pa gaanong mahahalata bagamat may pamumula na sa kaniyang mga tainga at mga paa. Dagdag pa, inabisuhan ako ni Calibo na maaaring ikamatay ni Buddy ang gagawing opersayon sapagkat bumaba na ang bilang ng kaniyang white blood cells na siyang tumutulong sa pag-iwas mula sa matinding pagdurugo. Habang si Bunso naman ay may taglay pang resistensiyang mainam sa mabilis na pagrekober mula sa isasagawang opersayon.
Samantala, ilang araw bago ang kanilang operasyon ay napagdesisyonan ng propesor nila Calibo sa surgery na si Dr. Marco Reyes na hindi maaaring ipagpatuloy ang operasyon ng aking dalawang aso hangga’t hindi nagagamot ang kanilang CTVT.
Ang mabisang lunas
Bagamat isa sa mga lunas sa CTVT ang pagtanggal ng ari, hindi naman nito nasisiguro na 100 porsiyento ngang ligtas na mula sa sakit ang aso. Maaari pa rin siyang magkaroon kung aksidenteng matuluan ng dugo ang anumang bahagi ng kaniyang katawan buhat ng operasyon. Ang pangyayaring ito ay tinatawag ng mga doktor ng hayop bilang seeding.
Ang pinakamabisang paraan upang tuluyan ng mawala ang CTVT sa sistema ng isang aso ay sa pamamagitan ng pagsuswero ng Vincristine sulfate isang beses kada linggo sa loob ng apat hanggang anim na magkakasunod na linggo o depende sa pangangailangan.
Ayon kay Dr. Leila Flores, propesor sa Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences ng CVM, kahit na kayang bigyang lunas ang CTVT, maaari pa ring magkaroon ang isang asong tinamaan ngunit gumaling na. Papaano? Kung siya ay makikipagtalik muli o may direktang kontak sa mga asong may naturang sakit.
Ayon sa mga talaan, mayroon ng humigit 80 kaso ng CTVT ang nahawakan ng mga doctor mula sa ospital ng mga hayop sa UPLB simula ng taong 1990 hanggang Hulyo 2011.
Noong 2003, naitala ang pinakamataas na kaso ng CTVT sa Los Baños. Umabot ng 19 ang bilang ng mga asong ipinasuri na naging positibo rito. Ayon kay Dr. Flores, may nahawakan siyang kaso tungkol sa isang kilalang nagpapalahi at nagbebenta ng mga aso sa naturang bayan kung saan ang kaniyang inahing aso ay nahawaan ng ito ay ipakasta. Ang hayop ay naging sanhi upang maipasa ang sakit sa iba pang kasama niyang aso.
Ang nakasaad sa itaas ay isang pagpapatunay na hindi lamang tanging mga gala at napabayaang aso ang kandidato sa pagkakaroon ng CTVT kung hindi maging ang mga pinakaiingatang mga purong lahing aso.
Bukod pa roon, mas maraming babaeng aso ang may CTVT sa buong mundo. Base sa isinasagawang pag-aaral nila Dr. Flores, ang mga babaeng asong may edad tatlo ang mas delikado sa pagkakaroon nitong sakit. Napuna rin nila, base na rin sa kanilang mga datos, na ang panahon kung saan maraming aso ang nagtatalik— at nagkakaroon ng CTVT— ay sa pagitan ng mga buwan ng Oktubre at Nobyembre.
Sa kabuuan, unti-unti nang bumaba ang bilang ng mga asong dinadala sa ospital ng mga hayop sa UPLB na pumopositibo sa CTVT. Kaya lang nilinaw ni Dr. Flores na hindi sapat na basehan ito upang masabing tuluyan na ngang bumababa ang antas ng mga kaso ng CTVT hindi lamang sa bayan ng Los Baños maging sa buong Pilipinas. Ito ay sa kadahilanang tanging ang mga naging pasyente lamang nila na may naturang sakit ang kanilang naitala at kinonsider sa kanilang isinagawang pag-aaral.
Ayon sa mga pag-aaral, ang CTVT sa ngayon ay hindi dala ng virus. Ang cells ng pambihirang sakit ay maituturing na clonal na may kakaibang katangian kumpara sa mga malulusog na cells.
Ayon sa mga libro, may 2000 taon na ang nakalilipas mula ng magsimulang maghasik ng lagim ang CTVT sa pamilya ng mga aso gaya ng mga lobo. Hanggang ngayon ay palaisipan pa rin sa mga mananaliksik at eksperto kung papaano nagsimula at nabuo ang nakahahawang sakit.
Samantala, ayon kay Dr. Flores, bagamat nakasulat sa karamihan ng mga librong nabasa ay hindi raw nakahahawa sa tao ang CTVT, may mangilan-ngilan din namang libro siyang nabasa na nagsasabi ng kabaligtaran.
“Based on books, there are reported cases of very, very rare occurrence of TVT among humans but there are no journal articles yet to prove this,” sabi niya. Gayun pa man, hindi natin dapat ipagsawalang bahala, lalo na ng mga taong may alagang aso kagaya ko, ang pagkakaroon at pagkalat ng CTVT kahit na ito ay hindi kasing sikat at kagaya ng ibang uri ng sakit ng aso na kapag tumama sa tao ay tiyak ngang nakamamatay gaya ng rabis at leptospirosis.
Mas mainam pa rin na naaalagaang mabuti si “Bantay” upang hindi siya magkaroon ng mga hindi kanais-nais na sakit.
Kung aalalahaning muli, karamihan sa mga nakamamatay na sakit ng tao sa panahon ngayon ay nagsimula sa mga hayop. Kabilang doon ang madcow disease, anthrax, at ang Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) na unang kumalat sa Hong Kong, China.
Ayon sa mga eksperto, ang SARS— ang sakit na pumatay sa libu-libong manok at iba pang uri ng mga ibon— ay pinaniniwalaang nagmula sa bird flu na dulot ng virus. Ito ay buhat ng pagpapabaya ng mga may-ari sa kalusugan at kalinisan ng kanilang mga hayop. Sa paglipas ng panahon, mas nagiging malakas at mas malawak ang pamiminsala ng mga sakit ng hayop na hindi binibigyan ng sapat na atensyon ng publiko.
Kadalasan na ang mga bata at matatanda ang madaling dapuan ng kung anu-anong sakit kaya naman kung ang isang aso na may CTVT ay pababayaan na lamang pagala-gala at makahawa ng marami pang aso, hindi malayong dumating ang araw na katakutan na rin ng milyung-milyong tao ang sakit na ito dahil sa napatunayan nang nakahahawa nga ito sa mga tao.
Pag-iwas sa pagkalat ng CTVT
Upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng CTVT, ugaliing patingnan nang regular si”Bantay” sa isang magaling na beterinaryo. Sa ganoong paraan, madedetekta at mabibigyang lunas kaagad kung siya ay maging positibo. Isa sa mga suhestyon upang hindi magkaroon ng CTVT ang isang aso, lalo na kung ito ay madalas na lumalabas, ay ang pagpapakapon dito o ang tinatawag na spaying at neutering. Sa pamamagitan ng mga ito, nawawalan na ng gana ang aso sa pakikipagtalik at hindi na siya nagiging agresibo sa aspetong sekswal
Kaya lang, kahit na matanggalan na ng ari ang isang aso, hindi pa rin kasiguruhan iyon sa hindi pagkakaroon niya ng CTVT dahil maaari pa ring makuha ito sa pakikipag-amuyan at pakikipagsalamuha sa mga asong mayroon nito. Kaya naman mas mainam na kung palalabasin ang aso ay samahan na lamang ito nang nakatali upang maging kontrolado ang kaniyang mga gawain.
Sa suma total, mas maigi pa rin kung ang may-ari ng aso ay responsable kaysa sa hindi. Sa bandang huli, kung ipagsasawalang bahala lamang natin ang karamdaman at kalagayan hindi lamang ng ating mga aso maging ng iba pang mga hayop at sarili lamang nating kapakanan ang ating iisipin, tayo rin naman ang mahihirapan at maaapektuhan. Sapagkat ang lahat ng bagay ay magkakaugnay. Ang kahinaan o kalakasan ng isa ay kahinaan na rin o kalakasan ng lahat.
Janina Myn Z. Villlapando
[FEATURE] What used to be coconut farm wastes found in abundance along the coastline of Gumaca, Quezon has become a major source of livelihood for the residents of Brgy. Progreso. This was made possible by the newly constructed decorticating or husking plant in Brgy. Progreso in Gumaca.
Barangay Councilor Joel Vicente, a 31-year-old plant machine operator, was one of the first to be part of the project. Barangay Councilor Vicente explained that their barangay benefitted greatly from the decorticating plant that produces coco coir, a fiber from the outer husk of the coconut used to make ropes and matting. Vicente added that with more than half of the plant personnel coming from Brgy. Progreso, the decorticating plant has provided residents with a major source of income.
The decorticating plant processes coconut husks, extracting the fiber known as the coco coir. The production of coco coir produces a by-product called the coco peat. The coir can be found in mattresses, upholstery, ropes, and doormats. It is also used as geo textile for soil erosion control and desertification. The peat, on the other hand, is used in horticulture and vegetation as soil additive and conditioner and as a growing medium.
These products are exported mainly to countries like China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, demand for coir products continues to increase because of the cheap, high-quality products produced. The organizations involved aim to reach more countries and more markets by the end of their five-year plan.
This Coco Coir Production Project is managed through the partnership of the Department of Agrarian Reform-Quezon II (DAR-QII), Filcoco Ventures Inc. (FVI), and Vibavipagasa Farmers Credit Cooperative (VFCC). A memorandum of agreement was signed by these parties on June 24, 2011 at Mandaluyong City. They have agreed upon a five-year plan consisting of activities such as the “May pera sa bunot campaign”, construction of farm to market roads, entrepreneurship trainings to farmer organizations and more which will help achieve the projects’ objectives: to develop and expand the supply of coco coir; improve access to market information; and strengthen market linkages.
According to the agreement, DAR-QII has to ensure the sustainability of coconut-based enterprise and shall provide technical assistance, monitoring, skills development and evaluation of the project. FVI, which is part of the Green Terafirma Pte Limited (GTL) Group of Companies, will provide financial assistance and transportation of husks from other barangays. The implementation of the strategies and general policies are in the hands of the VFCC.
“The ultimate goal is to increase export earnings from 1.3 million dollars up to 6.5 million dollars by the end of 2016” said Samuel Solomero, Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer II of DAR-QII.
They currently have three plants in Quezon located in Alabat, Catanauan, and Gumaca. Through the Gumaca coco coir plant alone, they will be able to employ around 120 people. Satellite plants are still planned to be constructed at different places in the Philippines.
Fifty-one-year-old Angelito Marcelino’s previous job was based far from his family in a field not related to what he studied. Marcelino is a mechanical engineering graduate. When the decorticating plant was established in Gumaca, Marcelino had the opportunity to apply his expertise. “I have more time for my family now,” Marcelino added.
Working in the plant does not require a college degree. This was an opportunity for Leonardo Eduarte, 19 years old. The salary is sometimes not enough, according to Eduarte, but he manages to get along. Since he resides far from the plant, he has to pay for his transportation, an added expense. He hopes to become a regular worker and secure a steady pay.
The plant transformed Brgy. Progreso, as seen not only by the workers directly benefitting from it, but also by its residents. According to Samuel Hernandez, a government employee and current resident of Brgy. Progreso, there has been significant changes in their barangay since the beginning of the operation of the plant. Even “tambays” became part by selling husks to the company and earning a small but considerably helpful amount of money. “I think in the long run, the company will boost the economy of Gumaca and even nearby towns” Hernandez added.
The decorticating plant has proved to be beneficial to the residents of the barangay, but some fear of the problems the plant may cause. Residents are saying that the plant will affect the quality of the water in the river nearby because of the resulting liquid from the coco peat. This has not yet been proven and the organizations involved assure the people that they doing all the mitigating process to avoid this. “We are building a leaching chamber to catch the liquid from the coco peat and store it for a time .This process will neutralize the acid from the coco peat liquid and it will be allowed to enter the river when it has been neutralized already” said Plant supervisor, Marcelino.
Still the coco coir production project has its advantages to the environment. What is generally considered waste can now be used to provide income to workers and thus lessening the threats of pollution in the place.
A new dimension for the coco husk
This project gave a new dimension for the ordinary coco husk which are otherwise just thrown, burned or lay into waste. It now has economic value though evidently very small.
“The environment and social impact of the business made us to embark on this project and to develop the technology” says Noel Florido, FVI President. He also added that the “partnership with DAR is consistent with its objective of poverty alleviation”.
Brgy. Progreso demonstrates how the collaboration between government agencies, private businesses, and the community can lead to mutually-benefitting and sustainable livelihood programs.
Suzeth A. Regalado
[NEWSFEATURE] Four hundred twenty (420) hectares of land in Laguna were identified to be part of the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 26. or the National Greening Program (NGP) for the year 2011. This is part of the move to complete planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land nationwide by the year 2016.
By end of October, the tree planting activities are set to be completed and the remaining months of 2011 would be dedicated for maintenance and identifying the NGP site for the year 2012. According to Forester Recillo, target areas in Laguna for the year 2012 will be doubled compared with this year’s.
According to Forester Noel M. Recillo, chief of the Forest Sector of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Laguna, NGP enjoins the different sectors of the community to participate in the effort to rehabilitate RP forests.
The identified NGP areas in Laguna are found in protected areas, locales with community based forest management, and urban watersheds. One hundred hectares of the target site under protected area is situated in Sitio Calo, Brgy. San Cristobal, San Pablo City; 150 hectares under Community Based Forest Management is situated at Brgy. Minayutan, Famy Laguna; and 200 hectares are distributed in target sites under urban watershed located in Malibanban watershed (80 hectares), LSPU Siniloan (100 hectares), Sta. Cruz watershed (10 hectares), and Magsaysay (10 hectares).
One of the strategies used by the greening program is social mobilization. It encourages more people to take part in the effort to conserve the forest. Different sectors of the community, including government bureaus, local government units (LGU), and private organizations have expressed their support to the greening program by taking part on the tree planting activities. NGP also enjoins government employees and participating students to plant ten seedlings individually per year.
According to Forester Recillo, the community’s participation in the greening program is very important. He emphasized that DENR itself can not accomplish the task without the help of the people, he added.
To increase the community members’ awareness about the greening program, DENR is implementing information-education campaigns through their website and collaboration with the media. Off site orientation are also conducted before the set date of the tree planting activity. This activity orients the participating school and organization on the proper technique of planting tree seedlings. Part of the offsite orientation is a talk about the tree planting activity, video presentation, and an open forum. The importance and benefits of the National Greening Program are also explained to the students and members of the organization.
According to Hermie Lantikan, Forester II, in charge of the records for reforestation at CENRO, the orientation is important in the tree planting activities so that participating sectors like students will value what they do, also the survival of the seedlings depends on how it was planted.
Aside from saving denuded forest areas, NGP seeks to contribute to poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaption. Among the tree species planted on NGP sites are indigenous like the Narra. Other sites also plant fruit bearing trees which will also benefit the Public Organization and beneficiary group as a source of livelihood.
The greening program also covers Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for the maintenance Community Based Forest Management site. In the case of Laguna, the identified CCT beneficiary is the Famy Upland Farmers Association. In other areas, plantations under urban watershed are maintained by the local government.
The total budget for tree seedlings per hectare of land is Php 6,000 which is bought on reputable nursery. An additional Php 2,500 per hectare is allotted for site preparation which will cover hole digging, bamboo, clearing of the site, and fertilizers. According to Forester Recillo Php 2,500 per hectare site preparation alone is too small. The current proposal of the DENR to double budget allocation for NGP will help cope up with the project expenses, he added.
Proper planting of tree seedling is very important in the survival of the seedling. However, According to Hermie Lantikan, although off site orientations are done, during tree planting activity, students seem not to take the task seriously. It seems that students plant trees only for completion, she added, which should not be the case.
Despite of the effort to save the lost forest, there is still incidence of illegal logging. Recently, the DENR-CENRO confiscated 70 pieces of squared timber about 2000 board feet at Brgy. Anitay Paete Laguna. Forrester Recillo said that the safety of DENR staff is also a concern. To ensure the safety of DENR staff, Forester Recillo said that they ask assistance from the army.
Other people say that NGP is ambitious, Forester Recillo said, but with people’s cooperation the goal of the project can be accomplished.
Miguel Victor T. Durian
[FEATURE] Water hyancinth and bamboo sticks; put them together and you have an aquatic acrophyte biosorption system in its simplest form.
The simple, cost-effective water filtration system for lakes and rivers was developed by University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) professor Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, an adjunct professor at the university’s Institute of Biological Sciences.
Dr. Zafaralla is an environmental biologist. Her concept for the water filtration system can from her 2010 study involving the use of water hyacinths, more commonly referred to as water lilies, to absorb pollutants from bodies of water. The Molawin Creek at the UPLB campus was the site for her study.
Molawin Creek, sometimes referred to as the Molawin River, is the small stream originating from Mt. Makiling and flowing through the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus. It is the creek that flows under the Palma Bridge, flowing further down the Bocobo Bridge by the Seniors’ Social Garden, under which one biosorption system is installed.
Molawin Creek played a role in the establishment of the then UP College of Agriculture back in 1908, because the area proved to be a good source of water for drinking, bathing, constructing, among others. Most importantly, it sustained the rich flora and fauna that inhabited the area, which was necessary for UPCA’s biological laboratories.
Soon, UPCA expanded its perimeters, allowing for the construction of infrastructure through the Rockefeller-Ford Foundation, giving way to a 5-Year Development Program (5YDP). The infrastructure development and the construction of a sewage treatment facility soon collapsed and has not been repaired since.
The untreated sewage waste of UPLB campus, including the wastes from dormitories, housing units, and laboratories are expelled directly into the creek, through the conveyor behind the Physical Plant and Maintenance Services Office (PPMSO). The endpoint of Molawin Creek is Laguna de Bay.
The Aquatic Macrophyte Biosorption System (AMBS) is basically a water filtration system made of bamboo sticks and water hyacinths or water lilies (Eichhornia crassipes). Acting as a barrier, the bamboo sticks are made into a structure similar to an organized beaver dam interlinked by chicken wire and supported by heavy rocks at the front. The water hyacinths are placed like a mat behind the bamboo sticks so that they will not float away. The system is placed perpendicular to the running water, so that the water that will pass through it will be filtered by the roots of the water hyacinths, which absorb solids and filter heavy metals, particularly lead, which causes nervous system decline.
Her main concern on lead contamination is that people living in slum areas catch fish that are contaminated with lead.
It was also a surprising observation that after the system was put up, hundreds of fingerlings begun to proliferate out in the cleansed area of the creek—life science in action. It was “fish galore,” as Dr. Zafaralla had put it. The fingerlings were Tilapia and Biya.
Because of its design, it is suitable for installation in narrow bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and creeks.
Because of the efficiency of the technology, Dr. Zafaralla was recognized with the NAST Hugh Greenwood Environmental Science award in 2010, plus substantial prize money, which she will be investing on this project.
The BioPark and The Community
Because constructing and maintaining the biosorption system does not really need diverse technical knowledge and is cheaper, compared to other state-of-the-art water filtration systems, Dr. Zafaralla hoped that communities will be involved in this project; hence, her idea of the “BioPark” was conceptualized.
Dr. Zafaralla explained that the BioPark is not run by the government but by the community. This is basically like a give-and-take relationship. The community manages the system; the system gives the community clean water and fish to eat.
On August 2010, the Molawin Creek was declared a BioPark, and was henceforth called the Molawin BioPark, as declared by UPLB Chancellor Luis Rey I. Velasco and Vice Chancellor Virginia R. Cardenas.
For now, the sole purpose of converting the Molawin Creek into a BioPark on campus is to protect it by law from being downgraded yet again. Fishing and other recreational activities are also allowed at Molawin as long as visitors will keep the area clean.
Presently, there are six organizations that have joined hands with the UPLB Occupational Health and Safety Standards Committee to help in the stewardship of Molawin creek. Los Baños Mayor Anthony Genuino has also expressed his support for the project.
The installation of the biosorption system garnered positive remarks from the residents of Sitio Riverside, a community of informal settlers, in which one biosoprtion system was also installed.
“Doon ho kami naglalaba at naghuhugas ng pinggan kahit madumi,” said Aling Mika, a resident at Sitio Riverside, who added that she was grateful that the biosoprtion system was put up.
Manong Erik, also a resident of Sitio Riverside, said, “Dati noong hindi pa inilagay yung [biosorption system], napaka-itim ng tubig at wala kaming mahuling isda dito.” Manong Erik also said that he was able to participate in the construction of the biosoprtion system when it was first put up in 2010.
Other residents also claimed that during heavy rains, the system gets washed away. Dr. Zafaralla pointed out that this is one of the reasons why the system should be community-based, so that it would be constantly monitored by the community it serves.
Meanwhile, biosoprtion systems were also installed at one creek at Sta. Rosa, Laguna and another at Tanay, Rizal on June 10, 2011.
Dr. Zafaralla is hoping to put up biosorption systems in the 24 micro-watersheds in Laguna, which she will be carrying out with the help of the River Councils (RC) of Laguna. The idea is to remediate the dirty water from the 24 micro-watersheds before they reach Laguna de Bay.
Noel Angelo S. Arboleda
[NEWSFEATURE] In line with BFAR’s mission of providing livelihood assistance in aquaculture, the CALABARZON regional office (BFAR IV-A) continues to support small-time fish farmers through the Tilapia Broodstock and Fingerling Production and Dispersal Program.
On July 8, BFAR IV-A transferred around 100,000 fingerlings and 8,000 breeders worth 30,000 pesos in total from their extension office in Bambang, Los Baños to municipalities in Laguna and Quezon.
BFAR farm technicians along with municipal agriculturists from Sta. Cruz and Victoria, Laguna and Real, Quezon dispersed tilapia stock to more than ten requesting fish farmers.
This is just one of the many requests approved by BFAR IV-A in a month as part of their tilapia dispersal, an assistance program for farmers venturing in the field of aquaculture.
In 1970, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources started the program to support low-income fish farmers in growing tilapia, a popular fish in the region. Originally, the Tilapia Broodstock and Fingerling Production and Dispersal program existed with a “stock now pay later policy” wherein requesting fish farmers are loaned fish stock (fingerlings and breeders) which they have to pay after harvesting period.
Due to tilapia’s popularity as a fish that is relatively easy to raise in fresh and saltwater conditions, the Department of Agriculture increased funding for tilapia research and production in 1990. This allowed BFAR to drop the loaning system and provide each requesting fish farmer with up to two free stock grants of 500 – 100,000 tilapias each.
According to Ms. Julia Arida, Officer in Charge of the BFAR IV-A Extension Training and Communications Division, interested parties only need to send a letter of request addressed to BFAR IV-A regional office in Diliman, Quezon City. Few requirements such as the amount of fish stock requested, farm measurements and address specified in the request letter are needed. This is done in order for the program to be more accommodating to low-income fish farmers.
Processed requests are then sent to the Extension office in Bambang, Los Baños for verification. During this phase, BFAR farm technicians are sent to different farms to conduct measurements and logistical surveys. This ensures that the amount of stock requested by farmers is applicable to the size of their growing facility, preventing cases of overstocking which may result to fish kill.
Mr. Dionisio Zapanta, BFAR IV-A farm technician, said the tilapia is popular not only to consumers but to producers as well because it is a very adaptive fish, known to survive in harsh conditions. “Tanggalan mo lang ng konting kaliskis ang bangus o galunggong, mamamatay na yun. Ang tilapia, kahit wala nang kaliskis, makakalangoy parin (Take off some scales from a milkfish or a mackerel scad and it’s bound to die, while a tilapia can swim with hardly a scale left),” Zapanta explained. However, he cautioned that inadequate space for the fish to grow causes stress which may kill the tilapia. That is why verification of farm size is important.
Through years of the BFAR Tilapia Dispersal program, technicians have encountered fish breeders lacking basic knowledge in tilapia breeding. To address that, BFAR IV-A provides seminars and modules on tilapia breeding in order to help starting farmers in their business. Trainings are conducted by BFAR specialists who come to the farms of beneficiaries needing assistance. Aside from this, tilapia breeders can also download the training modules from the BFAR IV-A website.
According to Mr. Zapanta, proper knowledge in tilapia is crucial in the business; it’s not just a matter of feeding the fish and you’re set. Overfeeding tilapia stock is a bad as underfeeding it as they might die from fishmeal residue contaminating their tanks.
Farmers need to be familiar with the tilapia’s breeding season as to successfully inseminate tilapia breeders for reproduction. “Madami talagang matigas ang ulong nagsasayang lang ng stock namin (There’s just a lot of hard-headed farmers just wasting our stock,)” Mr. Zapanta added, stressing the importance of basic training for starting fish farmers as the provincial office has experienced cases of failed businesses due to improper breeding practices.
Last May 28, a massive fish kill incident hit Taal, Batangas wherein approximately P57 million pesos worth of milkfish and tilapia. The incident affected 27% of Metro Manila’s supply of two of the country’s most popular fish. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and BFAR were the government bodies primarily involved in the investigation of the incident.
When asked regarding the effect of the fish kill to BFAR IV-A’s tilapia dispersal program, BFAR IV-A Farm Technician Mr. Alfredo Fang replied that it has not affected their fish stock. He clarified that BFAR IV-A along with the other 15 provincial offices around the country, gets their tilapia from the bureau’s main breeding farm in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
According to Mr. Fang, the incident in Taal Lake was caused by abrupt changes in water temperature. The water on the surface of the lake suddenly became cool, forcing the heat from the bottom to rapidly rise. In BFAR’s case however, their tilapia grown in Muñoz are stored in fish tanks providing the fish with a controlled environment, unlike the cages in Taal where the stocks are susceptible to sudden changes in temperature.
Among the 16 provincial offices of BFAR throughout the country, the CALABARZON provincial office is considered as the pioneer in Tilapia Breeding research. The provincial office is also the first to implement the Tilapia Broodstock and Fingerling Production and Dispersal Program. On the average, BFAR IV-A disperses a total of 300,000 fingerlings and 25,000 breeders in a month catering to around 10-12 individual tilapia breeders.
But despite the bureau’s efforts to provide assistance to small-time tilapia farmers through tilapia dispersal, still, there are some gaps that must be considered for the improvement of the program.
Mr. Raymond Jogus, a tilapia farmer for 17 years in Calauan, Laguna noted that individual requests take too long to get approved by the bureau. “Masyadong matagal, ang daming nakapila, eh hindi aari yan pag may hinahabol kang schedule (It takes too long because of a lot of pending requests, and that won’t do if you’re following a tight schedule,)” said Mr. Jogus.
Aside from the usual delays in the approval of stock requests, Mrs. Herminia Paunil, a former tilapia farmer in Calauan, said that BFAR’s tilapia is a bit challenging to raise.
She explained that this may be attributed to the fact that BFAR produces its tilapia in Pampanga, noted for its brackish water. She added that the tilapia may be more accustomed to a more saline condition and may take time to adjust to Laguna’s fresh water.
It’s a fact that tilapia breeders like Mr. Jogus, follow a strict schedule of operations, as one has to consider time-specific factors involved such as the breeding season and spawning season in tilapia production. With tilapia farming as their main source of livelihood, most fish farmers cannot afford to deal with problems that would impede their production and make them lose a harvest. Because of this, a lot of farmers are resorting to private breeders for their supply of fingerlings and breeders rather than rely on the free assistance program offered by BFAR.
In response to this, Ms. Arida said that the bureau still aims to improve its Tilapia Broodstock and Fingerling Production and Dispersal Program through continuous research on the field of tilapia breeding.
Through feedback data (tilapia growth rate, survivability rate, reproduction rate, etc.) given by the beneficiaries of the program, BFAR IV-A aims to improve the quality and increase the production of their tilapia stock to be able to cater to more individuals interested in making tilapia breeding their livelihood.
Currently, the BFAR IV-A regional office is located at the NIA Complex in Diliman, Quezon City, while its Extension Office is located in Bambang, Los Baños, Laguna. Local fish farmers interested in the Tilapia Broodstock and Fingerling Production and Dispersal Program may contact the BFAR IV-A regional office through landline at +63(2)926-8714.