Paniman: A newly-discovered home of Pawikans
Posted on: Saturday July 08, 2017

“Masarap ‘yung ulam namin mamaya,” said her neighbour. “Anong ulam niyo?,” curious, Myrna asked. Nonchalantly, her neighbour replied, “May nabili akong Pawikan. Isang daan lang.” Shocked and with reserved anger, Myrna lobbied, “Wag mo muna lutuin. Bilhin ko na lang sa’yo ng 300.”

This was how Myrna Rodriguez, current barangay chairperson of Paniman, Caramoan, recalled the bone-chilling instance that started her burning passion for Pawikans. Even before she thought of entering local politics, she knew that Pawikan conservation will be one of her priorities.

 

Myrna diligently documents Pawikan sightings in Paniman. This photo of a Pawikan is one of her shots.

 

In a span of two years, Myrna has already helped monitor the captivity of 38 Pawikans, two of which were recaptured by local fisherman in her barangay. For every Pawikan that the fishermen will accidentally capture and return for tagging and releasing back to the sea, Myrna shells out from her personal money some PhP200— an amount incomparable to the value of a Pawikan

"Isipin mo, they're not just after PhP200. What is PhP200 kung binenta nila ‘yun? Kaya lang nagiging conscious na talaga ‘yung mga tao [sa halaga ng pawikan]," said Myrna. Every barangay assembly, she emphasizes that anybody who will be caught selling Pawikan for food consumption will be punished accordingly. As recent as February 19, 2015, Pawikans were returned to the barangay hall.

Rodel Alarcon, a resident of Paniman, shared what for him is his most bizarre experience in his four years of fishing for his family of four. “Nagulat po kami noon. Akala po kasi namin noon malaking bato tapos dinala po namin dito sa may tabing-dagat,” he said. Upon inspection, Rodel was surprised to see that he was able to catch an almost 1-meter long Pawikan.

 

 

After they are incidentally captured, pawikans are carefully measured for documentation.

 

Asked why he thought of returning the heavy, rock-like Pawikan back to the barangay hall, Rodel said, “Kasi po dito sa amin, mahigpit po na pinagbabawal [na] ‘yung Pawikan kinakatay. Kaya ‘pag nakakakuha po kami [ng Pawikan], dinadala namin kay kapitana para ma-safety [sic] ‘yung Pawikan. Kasi po ‘yung Pawikan ‘yun po [ang] dumadala ng isda papunta sa tabi.” He added, “‘Yung pera naman po [na PhP200] binibili na lang namin ng bigas."

To date, this Pawikan is the biggest that the fishermen of Paniman were able to catch. A marine biologist, who happened to be on a vacation in Paniman at that time, said that the Pawikan is a Green Sea Turtle that is more than 50 years old.

 

Pawikans are also tagged for monitoring. These tags help in keeping count of the Pawikans in the area.

 

Because of the recurring sightings of Pawikan in their sea, Myrna coordinated with the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur to ensure that proper measures are taken to secure these Pawikans. Immediately, the Provincial Government, through the Environment, Disaster Management, and Emergency Response Office (EDMERO), conducted a visitation of the area and assured Myrna and her barangay members of a partnership in Pawikan conservation.

The Provincial Government has committed to provide one sack of rice in exchange of a Pawikan that will be returned to the barangay. Also, an evaluation of the area is continuously conducted to come up with a strategic plan in conserving such precious marine life, similar to the Pawikan Conservation Projects Governor Migz Villafuerte, through EDMERO, has established for the communities of Pasacao and Bato. In Bato, for instance, 46 new-born Pawikans were released to the sea last December, 2015, while another Pawikan has just laid eggs. Meanwhile, in Pasacao, out of 100 Pawikan eggs, 99 Pawikans hatched and were released to the sea.

"Kaya ‘pag makahuli po sila ng pawikan, dalhin po nila sa barangay para mapakawalan at dumami pa sila,” advised Rodel to his fellow fishermen.

 

Written By: Estel Lenwij Estropia

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