See the Sea: WWF initiates Reef Strokes to save PH seas

PICO DE LORO, Philippines - Summer is almost over. 

With the beaches still packed with people, others also headed over to the sandy shores before the season ends not just to achieve the perfect tan but stand for a meaningful cause. 

In promotion to protect the Verde Island Passage and preserve Philippine coral reefs, the World Wide Fund for Nature organized Reef Strokes, which featured 6 legendary Filipino open-water swimmers at Pico de Loro, Nasugbu.

WWF Hero of the Environment Atty. Ingemar Macarine, Frank Lacson, Besty Medella, Julian Valencia, Moi Yamoyam and Miguel Villanueva conquered approximately 10 kilometers of open-water to celebrate the World Oceans' Day and Coral Triangle Day on June 8 and 9, respectively.  

Reef Strokes also highlighted the dangers of plastic pollution and climate change on the Velarde Island Passage as it is known as the Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity.

Pinoy Legends 

Betsy Madella and Julain Valencia, the first two Filipinos and Asians to swim the Robben Island Channel in South Africa, finished with a total of 10.65km (3hrs, 12 mins) and 10.06km (3hrs, 13 mins), respectively. 

Known as the Father of Philippine Triathlon and The Legend, Frank Lacson reached the shore with a total of 10.5km (4 hrs, 15 mins) while Miguel Villanueva ended with 9km (4hrs, 53mins) who shared that this is his first open-water marathon.

On the other hand, open-water coach Moi Yamoyan swam a total of 10.2km (4hrs, 51 mins) while the "Pinoy Aquaman" Atty. Ingemar Macarine set foot on land with 7.1km in 3hrs, 31 mins.

"One of the most challenging parts of this [marathon] was the current. The boats above us were practically telling us that at one moment, we weren't even moving because the current was too strong," Valencia said. 

All swimmers had set goals to avoid touching anything during the marathon, swim from land to land and stay on water for at least 10km. 

"We really wanted to inspire and set an example," said Yamoyam. "We don't just want to start this movement but finish it as well." 

A way of life 

Reef Strokes stressed out the beauty and importance of the country's natural resources; that the Philippines was a stunning glory of hidden treasures found underneath. 

Unfortunately, only a few get a chance to appreciate it. 

"We think that open-water swimming is the best way to appreciate the underwater world but only few people knows how to swim in open-water," Medalla shared. 

Also, the hardest struggle was not the physical fatigue but the trash they encountered along the way. 

"There were plastic bottles and even a shoe floating in the water [which came from Manila Bay]. It's really heartbreaking because these could really destroy the reefs," Villanueva said. 

Overall, WWF encouraged everyone to be responsible stakeholders; collaboration and working together are the keys to preserve the reefs. 

True enough, summer is almost over – but the mission to save the seas will never be seasonal. –