Bakhaw | @natmuseumbohol via Photos by Crispy Miranda

Bakhaw or Mangroves are tropical plant species abundant in intertidal zones. Substantial benefits of mangroves have long been highlighted with public campaigns for its protection and propagation. However, it remains threatened and consequently decreasing due to human neglect, encroachment and inadequate waste management.

Three months ago, Supertyphoon Odette ravaged the islands of Visayas and Mindanao, resulting in an estimated loss of 39.3 billion pesos and 409 deaths. The island barangay of Batasan, known for its 54-hectare mangrove forest in Tubigon, Bohol had been severely hit. Odette’s aftermath did not only reveal the distress of the people, but eventually exposed the negligence and unmitigated marine pollution in the Philippines. Tangible evidence provided proof with the tremendous human waste jammed in the branches of mangroves all over the island.

A study in 2015 by the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment placed the Philippines as the 3rd world’s biggest polluter, with 2.7M metric tons of plastic waste generated annually. As a country prone to cyclones, these natural phenomena also reveal the sad reality of man’s negligence for the environment.

Humans have the power to build a future with nature and people thriving together. Now is our time to take stronger actions on environmental challenges and transition towards sustainable development paths. After all, with our right to a healthy environment, it is our duty to protect it.

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