Friday, 22 July 2011

Birthday wish: help "I dive Culion" Project in Palawan

Isla Culion

Dear Friends,

My birthday is coming up in a few days and this year, I want to do something different. Instead of the usual fanfare celebrating, I've decided to help others and give back to the community.

Since I am passionate about diving, I've decided to help the people of Culion through the "I dive Culion" project that my diver friend Memey is leading together with Father Xavier Alpasa, SJ.

Culion is an island situated at the northernmost part of Palawan in the Phlippines, about an hour away by boat from Coron (Busuanga).  Some of you may remember that Culion used to be a leper colony.

In 1904, during the American period, the then Civil Governor Luke E. Wright signed the transfer of jurisdiction and control of Culion from the Municipality of Coron; and hence, the island has been established as a leper colony. In 1988, the administrative control of the island was transferred from the Department of health to the Municipality of Culion, ending nearly one century of administrative control by the health department.

In 2006, the World Health Organization declared the island free of the disease.

Please note that the "I dive Culion" project is only one of the components of the Isla Culion, Hotel Maya social entreprenurship program of Fr. Alpasa.  His vision is to make the once shunned leper colony, self-sufficient through ecotourism.

As a diver, I want to help create and make the planned dive facility sustainable and income generating. The target is to open a dive center on the island on December 8, 2011. At present, most of the dive centers are located in Coron.

The first step is to train a local as a divemaster. Memey has identified a local "Renli" to undergo dive training from open water to divemaster in Coron.  He needs support as follows:
1. Transportation allowance to Coron for training (P120 one-way x 24 trips) = P2,880
2. Open Water course to start on July 21 - P15,000
3. Advance Open Water course to start on August 21 - P12,000
4. Rescue Course to start on September 21 - P12,000
5. Payment for EFR - P5,000
6. Dive Master Course to start on October 2011 - P31,000

The total cash support to cover Renli's training amounts to P77,800. By the way, he also needs a buoyancy compensator (BC) and regulator to complete his gear. A kind soul already gave him mask and fins.

Of course, aside from training Renli to become a divemaster, the following are also needed:
- dive equipment (in good condition) for the dive shop
- and support for the coral reef protection program

The next step is to educate the residents of Culion (at a later date) on how to protect their environment and preserve their reefs so that eventually, it will be an ecotourism area that will give them employment opportunities.

I do hope I can appeal to your kind hearts to help the "I dive Culion" project. This is either in cash or in kind. I will be visiting and diving there next month - during the four day weekend, and if you want to join, please do drop me a note.

I've always believed that life is short, opportunities are few and I have only so much energy.. So I'm taking this opportunity and focusing my energy on "I dive Culion" as my personal social responsibility this year. I will for sure see it through the d-day on December 8, 2011.

Let me end by sharing what Martin Luther King Jr. said "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" Thank you and God bless.