Elpidio V. Peria
29 June 2013

Yesterday, here in Baguio City, a workshop group working on the actions that the country needs to take for its Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) 2020 got energized when the discussion turned to which fishes in one’s locality can no longer be found and so many of the workshoppers competed with each other to name the fishes that each of them knew when still young, but sadly, can no longer be found, and there was some wistful quality to the interventions made, resolving to find ways to hopefully, bring them back, if ever it would still be possible, but at the back of their minds conscious that perhaps this effort could be futile.

It all started when a rep from a State University & College (SUC) talked about their native hito which used to roam the waterways of their region, and she talked about how they used to catch them right where they found them and it has disappeared, and the reason stated was that something exotic, a foreign species, was introduced and that exotic species, perhaps led to the native hito’s extinction.

Then a participant from the other side of the table also talked about ludong, another native species from their area which also, can no longer be found and the one beside her said, no, in our area that can still be found, mentioning a local fish name which was not noted, but the ludong speaker said, no, that one is different, this one from our area is unique from that you said is still found in your waters.

After that exchange, an aging participant on her side of the table stood up and enumerated the many species in their river systems and water bodies that have also disappeared, and he ticked off the names of these species, even the facilitator only instructed the documentor to just note them and the researchers in the PBSAP updating team will just follow through what are their scientific names and look for any other studies relating to the population assessment of these species.

As mentioned by the tribal elder, these fish species were burarog, muri and agorong.

Then the table erupted with other names from the rest of the participants, they were just told to slow down naming them so the documentor can note them – birabid, bisikol, igat, bauka.

Actually, the participants said there are a lot more, not only freshwater fish species, so the suggestions for action were mainly, in the word of the academe rep, to benchmark these species, another said, there has to be a thorough-going assessment of these species, and perhaps to also find ways to bring them back.

This workshop in Baguio City, the first of its round, which is expected to be done all over the key clusters composed of 3 or 4 regions in the country, seeks to get information like these types of local reports, to get a full picture of the state of biodiversity in the country. Hopefully, this workshop should not just end up with a plan with no funding and thus cannot be implemented. We will soon find out when these series of workshops will culminate sometime in November this year.


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