5-6 June 2019, Urbiz Garden, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union. 45 members of the La Union Surf Club, Inc. (LUSC) were trained between 5-6 June 2019 in Coral Propagation and Planting – an event that was organised by LUSC Events Team in response to raising greater awareness amongst club members in training them how to manage and protect our coral reef – due to the increasing frequency and intensity of coastal flooding from storm surges hitting its shorelines in the last decade.
The 45 participants were trained initially in the theory of Ocean Conservation & Coral Propagation and Planting through a customised presentation delivered by FEED’s Living Legacy partner, Ocean Quest Global – led by Marine Biologist Laura Riavitz, a 9 year resident of La Union, avid surfer and diver.
Offering Coral Propagation to LUSC members was an idea conceived last year when Jongky Surf School expressed interest to FEED in wanting to learn more about coral planting; FEED then arranged to sponsor 11 of JSS surf instructors to be certified by Ocean Quest Global and Sea Shepherd Dive, facilitated and led by Laura. Since then, JSS members have been monitoring the corals established in the nursery at Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan – of which half have already been brought out into the deeper waters to grow up.
Funded by FEED partner TIDES Foundation, the Training of Trainers (ToT) practical workshop targeted LUSC’s surf instructors from all walks of life, some of whom were pioneer surfers in the country – others being key water safety and rescue (including lifeguards) professionals, and all of whom help protect the well being of the Province’s thousands of visitors during busy surf season and most weekends year-round, including tourists from all over the world. Not to mention bringing in chunks of tourism income to the province.
Complete sets of fins and snorkelling gear were provided at cost by Aquamundo Sports, as part of the sponsorship package of the Tides Foundation. For some LUSC students trained, it was the first time they experienced snorkelling, so it was a big eye opener to observe the under water nursery established by Laura and Jongky Surf School last October 2018.
Laura was happily surprised at the amount of interest from the LUSC members who registered, she said: “You are the first surfing community in the WORLD trained by OQG, we are honoured and so happily surprised, because it is you who protect our visitors and reputation, and now we hope you can also share your coral expertise with all visitors to our surf spots…now we all know the significant role that corals play in the entire ocean and Earth’s ecosystem…that makes you (LUSC trained members) CORAL GARDENERS and PROTECTORS OF THE REEF…the same reef that provides food for our fish, and the same reef that generates our amazing surf spots.”
The site venue for the Coral Propagation & Planting training was sponsored by Urbiz Garden, thanks to FEED Ambassador Tina Antonio, owner (currently President of San Juan Resort Restaurant and Hotel Association/SJRHASS, Inc.) – who also hosted the first ever surf instructors in the Philippines and worldwide trained in Coral Propagation by Ocean Quest Global, last 15th of October 2018.
Tina voiced her continued support to “our local beach community working together to protect the 5th longest coastline in the world: the coastline of la union, Philippines. The LUSC surfers and community members are among the first who implemented beach cleanups. They do this every Tuesday, and Thursday, every week, of every month, of every year. And up until today they are still one of the most active groups when it comes to coastal conservation. So as you can see, when you talk about environmental conservation, it’s not something you do as an individual. It’s something only possible when we work together.”
La Union and in particular Urbiztondo, San Juan increased in popularity amongst local and international travellers due to its appeal as the ideal place to learn surfing for the first time, as well as the North and South Swell waves across the entire coastline, even leading further up to Pagudpud.
The last event the LUSC Events Team put together was the much awaited “La Union Lokal Legends Surf Competition“, which honoured for the first time, LU pioneer surfers who made the surfing vibe solid.
Under the stewardship of LUSC’s current 2nd term President, Ian Saguan, the Club has every intention of strengthening its members’ capabilities to keep up with the increasing demand for professionalism and performance when it comes to not only surf instruction, but also water safety, beach security, community enhancement activities (e.g. team building) and overall alignment with the agri-development and sustainable tourism ideals of the Provincial Government of La Union.
On behalf of LUSC, President Saguan expressed his profound thanks to the LUSC and local community members who demonstrated a keen interest in the Coral Propagation and Planting Course, and he in turn vowed to work with LUSC events, LU Soul, SJRHASS, LUCVB and other community based organisations to build the capabilities of LUSC to play a leading role in “enhancing the safety and sustainability of La Union’s shorelines to ensure a sustainable future for all”
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Back in 2008, these surfing spots in La Union province were already described as follows:
“To many, summer just means hitting the beaches and enjoying the sun.
For others, however, it means embarking new adventures, like trying a new sport such as surfing.
In La Union province in northern Luzon, the town of San Juan is fast becoming the surfing capital this side of the Philippines.
Its big and sparkling waves, availability of resorts, and warm people — these are factors that have made San Juan earn the title of surfing capital of the North.
Every year, hundreds of tourists, many of them surfers, come to visit San Juan, which is a mere five-hour drive from Manila.
World Surf Cup
The San Juan Surf Association gives summer a new twist every year with its exciting World Surf Cup.
“Different competitors from different countries are expected. We have different categories such as long board and short board,” Japanese surfer Aki Kazuo Akinaga explained.
He added the competition also promotes camaraderie and friendship among the different surfers.
Everyone can be a part of the summer activity. In fact, home trainors from the association offer affordable surf lessons to students…”
La Union – “Surfing Capital of Northern Luzon”
It was only in 2018 that the Province applied to claim said title officially:
“SAN JUAN, LA UNION—This second class municipality about 282 kilometers north of Metro Manila is to be declared the “surfing capital of Northern Luzon,” according to a measure passed by the House of Representatives, but its impact on the town’s ecology now concerns some business leaders and environmental groups.
House Bill No. 6683 was approved on third and final reading on Dec. 11 and was transmitted to the Senate for its concurrence on Dec. 12.
The proposed measure was authored by Abono Rep. Vini Nola Ortega, wife of Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III of the Ortega clan in La Union province.
The measure directs the Department of Tourism (DOT), in coordination with other government agencies, to prepare a tourism development plan within a year after the bill is enacted into law.
It also directs the DOT to allocate P100 million annually to implement the plan that would include “the construction, installation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure that shall develop and promote the beaches and surfing activities of the province.”
Every year, the beaches, polluted waters, commercial developments, overall foot traffic and rapid urbanisation of a once-quiet and rural town have caused unbearable pressure on its natural resources, initially power (currently still produced by coal) to fresh water (private and public sources) – whether it’s permanent plastics on the beach from unscrupulous visitors and/or used palm oil, food and other waste in the waters (organic and inorganic, including toxic waste) released into the sea from non-compliant sources; to the incessant event-specific party noise and bass vibrations from tourist establishments driving away many near-extinct turtle hatchlings (who have been frequenting the shorelines 1000 years longer than any of today’s visitors)….
LUSC decided to take a stand and invest in upgrading their members’ environmental awareness through the official surf instructors of the Club. It is by no coincidence that La Union attracted a seasoned Marine Biologist all the way from Austria, Laura Riavitz of Ocean Quest Global, to stay longer in the Philippines after having spent a year in government service training more than 5000 local kids and teachers in Ocean Conservation, sharing her technical and practical wisdom, techniques and teachings with many kids who had never even been in the ocean or snorkelled to see marine life.
Video Compilation – LUSC Coral Propagation & Planting Course (5-6 June 2019)
The 45 out of the 122 official LUSC leading surf school professionals registered to experience the full half day event, beginning with an introduction given by Laura, followed by a hands-on demonstration of the different species of corals to add to the existing nursery established by those trained in Jongky Surf School last 15th of October, certified in Coral Propagation.
A total of 45 new and varied coral species were planted from June 5-6, and will be taken out to sea after at least 6 months of nurturing by the newly trained LUSC members. Thank you LUSC, we hope to see you out there maintaining our nursery that will one day fully restore our coral reefs for everyone’s protection.
LUSC Groups 1-4 Certified in Coral Propagation & Planting
Groups 1 & 2, LUSC Coral Propagation & Planting Training, June 5th, 2019
Groups 3 & 4, LUSC Coral Propagation & Planting Training, June 6th, 2019
Video Coverage: Groups 1-4, June 5-6, 2019
FEED runs a number of Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE); Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – such as mangrove planting for coastal protection or ridge reforestation plantings; One Child, One Tree; Bio-Intensive Gardens (BIG) for nutrition in public elementary schools and other spaces; Climate Change Survival 101 and other LIVING LEGACY programs – customised environmental engagement activities for individuals and organisations interested in contributing to climate change adaptation efforts and greening critical areas such as watersheds, ridges, and reefs that all require rehabilitation.
Tree-Planting with FEED (Video)
Check out the video journey by Clueless Commuter who planted with us last 24th of June 2017 to get a good idea of how FEED plantings go: https://youtu.be/KROn4rjVqBg
© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc.