(Ate Vi being interviewed by Howie Severino. Photo from Sidetrip w/ Howie Severino.)
I BELATEDLY stumbled on Howie Severino's interview of Ate Vi, este, Gov. Vilma Santos Recto, and she tells how difficult it is to convince fish cage owners in Taal Lake to dismantle their cages and turn to other livelihoods. It's unfortunate I missed GMA 7's feature on the issue in its iWitness program. I hope the episode gets uploaded on YouTube. (Read excerpts of the interview here.)
The fish cages are a blight not only on one of the country's more famous tourist sites - the Taal Volcano - but an environmental hazard to the lake itself. With the unabated construction of fish cages, the lake will likely be depleted of its oxygen and result in more fish kills, as has happened in the last few years. This will only imperil the future income stream of the residents in the area who depend on their fish cages for livelihood.
(Taal Volcano and lake circa 1950, fish cage-free. A view from the ridge of Taal Vista Lodge. That's my mom at the right btw. Click to enlarge)
(Taal Volcano and Lake, circa 2008, also from the ridge of Taal Vista Hotel. The small dark dots on the water are the fish cages. Click to enlarge.)
As Gov. Santos Recto says, dismantling the fish cages isn't easy. But someone has to do something right now. This is a test of true grit, and her star power. Can she parlay her celebrity status and movie star appeal into convincing the mayors and the residents that reducing the number of fish cages will ensure a better future for them? I wish her luck. And if she does manage to get the job done, maybe she can work wonders even outside Batangas. Ate Vi for President? Why not? Stranger things have happened.