SM hosts Verde Island Swim

SM, through Hamilo Coast, Pico Sands Hotel, and Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club, supported the recent swim by six Filipino open-water athletes to promote the protection of the Verde Island Passage and educate the public about the need to conserve Philippine coral reefs. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)Hero of the Environment Atty. Ingemar Macarine, Frank Lacson, Betsy Medalla, Julian Valencia, Moi Yamoyam, and Miguel Villanuevacompleted an open-water swim marathon last May 29 for Reef Strokes, an event to celebrate Coral Triangle Day and highlight the dangers of plastic pollution and climate change on the Verde Island Passage.

Hamilo Coast, SM’s premier seaside development in Nasugbu, Batangas is at the apex of the Verde Island Passage, which occupies more than 1 million hectares between the provinces of Batangas, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, and Romblon. It is considered the center of the Coral Triangle, the world’s epicenter of marine life, abundance, and biodiversity, and home to 319 species and 74 genera of hard corals.

Since 2007, WWF-Philippines has been a partner of Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club, plus Pico Sands Hotel in various environmental programs in the area such as coastal resource management, renewable energy use, solid-waste management, and ridge-to-reef conservation. Explains Hamilo Coast Sustainability Head Wesley Caballa, “As an organization with sustainability at the forefront of its operations, we ensure that we take good care of the environment from ridge to reef. Through the help of WWF, several sustainability programs have been incorporated in our development.” The benefits have since cascaded to locals.

“Ang huli ng mga manlalambat ay umakyat na sa dose kilos kada-araw. May dagdag namang isang kilo kada araw ang huli ng mga namimingwit. Mas-marami po ito kaysa dati sapagkat naprotektahan na ang mga tirahan ng mga isda,” testifies Adelito Villaluna, a local fisherman who has plied the bountiful waters of Nasugbu for years.

“Coral reefs give millions of people food and livelihoods,” adds WWF-Philippines President & CEO Joel Palma.

“However, they are threatened by plastic waste, which smothers delicate corals. Climate change effects such as global warming also lead to coral bleaching, turning once-productive reefs into graveyards coated by algae. Reef Strokes shows how our collective ‘strokes’ will take us to the finish line, which is a world where productive oceans continue to gift Filipinos with food, jobs – even the very air we breathe.”

Reef Strokes was organized by WWF, Hamilo Coast, Pico Sands Hotel, Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club and Cebu Pacific Air.

Top Filipino open-water swimmers traversed the coves of Hamilo Coast to raise awareness about marine conservation. Hamilo Coast is located at the apex of the Verde Island Passage, considered to be one of the most vibrant areas of the global Coral Triangle – the world’s center of marine biodiversity.

The first three (out of six) swimmers to finish the 10-kilometer open water swim (center from left to right), Atty. Ingemar Macarine, Coach Betsy Medalla and Julian Valencia together with WWF President Joel Palma, Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club, and Pico Sands Hotel General Manager Maggie Garcia and Wesley Caballa, Hamilo Coast’s Sustainability Head.