TOLEDO CITY, Cebu—Leading up to the celebration of Earth Day this year, AboitizPower subsidiary Therma Visayas, Inc. (TVI), in partnership with the Aboitiz Foundation, organized an underwater garbage cleanup with its volunteer “Scubasureros” in Barangay Bato last April 14, 2022.
“Scubasurero is a term coined from ‘scuba diving’ and ‘basurero’ or garbage collector,” explained Therma South, Inc. (TSI) Reputation and Stakeholder Management Manager Lou Jason Deligencia. “We have conducted this activity as part of our environmental commitment to help protect marine life, especially in the areas where we operate.”
“The idea for this activity came from TVI employees who are also divers,” he explained. “They were diving in the beach just across TVI when they discovered trash stuck to the seabed, and so they’ve decided to tap us and other divers to conduct a wider underwater cleanup.”
Among the volunteers who participated in the event were TVI employees, community members, and local government officers. Local surfers from Toledo Local Breakers groups and members of the Young Environmentalists group of Barangay Cabitoonan also provided support to the event. Non-diver volunteers also joined the coastal cleanup in the area.
“I love to dive and I care for the environment—that’s a top priority of mine, and TVI’s Scubasurero project aligns with my interests and beliefs,” said Architect Daryl Carabio of the Toledo LGU City Planning and Development Office.
Along with other volunteers, TVI Procurement Operations Specialist Relyn Lazaro has committed to regularly do underwater cleanups to help decrease the amount of trash in the sea.
“We were able to gather a lot of trash from just a few hours of diving—there was a lot of plastic and even clothes in just two hours, we were able to collect 101 kg of plastic, 21 kg of glass, piles of clothes,” said Lazaro. “We are hoping to raise community awareness on proper waste disposal and segregation since most of the trash we’ve collected underwater are single-use plastics, such as sachets and other plastic packaging, which do not easily biodegrade.”
“We have to keep in mind that even the smallest plastic that gets into the sea can be damaging to sea life,” said TVI Facilities and Services Administrator Jonneil Culala.
Livelihood in Barangay Bato
Deligencia said the company also takes into consideration its host community members who heavily rely on fishing as their main livelihood.
“Marine life in the area is so rich, but we need to ensure that it continues to thrive so that our local fishermen wouldn’t need to go farther out into the sea to catch any fish,” he added. “It will be more efficient for them to fish nearer the coast.”
“We also intend to put up an initiative in managing Crown of Thorns (COT) starfish infestation in the area. COT feeds on corals and if left unmanaged, will devour an entire reef colony in months. Without corals, the fish will find habitat elsewhere creating lower fish catch for our fisher friends,” he added.
This program is a testament to TVI’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, particularly on Life Below Water and Decent Work and Economic Growth.