Helping to save the marine sea turtle is theme at Pawikan Festival
The beaches of Morong are home to endangered nesting sea turtles. Once poachers themselves, the locals are now conservationists celebrating their work and awareness with a yearly festival highlighted by the release of hatchlings into the sea.
Visitors and locals gathered at the beach of Barangay Nagbalayong in Morong, Bataan on November 30, 2012 for the annual Pawikan Festival. Pawikan is the local term for the marine turtles that are deemed endangered. In 1999 The Pawikan Conservation Center was put up as a community initiative and manned by locals who were once poachers and egg collectors. Today, they are the guardians and nurses of marine turtle eggs until they become hatchlings.
The beaches of Bataan is home to marine turtles laying eggs. It is said that those turtles born at the beach and survive to adulthood some 25-50 years later come back to the beach and lay their own eggs to start another cycle of life.
Peak nesting is in November and December. It is also around this time that the Pawikan Festival is held. Street dancing competition among schoolchildren provide the festive mood with pretty lasses from Bataan wearing costumes resembling the pawikan. They dance to the message of how crucial it is to protect these gentle creatures of the sea. Highlighting the festival is the release of hatchlings from the Pawikan Conservation Center to the West Philippine Sea. A visitor may sponsor a hatchling for a few pesos that is used to maintain the center, gets to hold and bid it goodbye as the baby turtle starts its survival training of crawling a few meters back to its home in the waters.
In a small town that cares for wildlife, there is a big battle cry.
Help Save the Pawikan.