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An island way of life

Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

Iloilo Caucus of Development NGos

An Island Way of Life Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo Copyright Š 2013 by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs, Inc. (ICODE). Cover Photos Front Cover: Enchanting Tangke, a saltwater lagoon in Gigante Sur. (Photo courtesy of ICODE) Acknowledgement ICODE through its Board of Directors and Executive Officer, Emmanuel C. Areùo, and FPE through its Chair and CEO Nestor R. Carbonera, the Board, the Executive Director and the Visayas Regional Office appreciate the valuable support of technical partners: The OceanBio Lab, Division of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, UP Visayas, Miag-ao, Iloilo headed by Dr. Wilfredo L. Campos; The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region VI and CENRO-Sara; The Northern Iloilo Alliance for Coastal Development (NIACDEV) chaired by Hon. Juan R. Alvarez, Mayor, Municipality of Ajuy. Also the relentless support, participation and commitment of local government unit partners: The Municipality of Carles headed by Hon. Arnold A. Betita, Municipal Mayor and the Barangay Councils of Asluman, Granada, Gabi and Lantangan, Gigantes Islands led by their respective Punong Barangay. And, all those who, in one way or the other, contributed to the fullfilment of this undertaking.

Kaalamang Likas Yaman (KALIKASAN) The BCSD Knowldege Series of FPE


aalamang Likas Yaman or simply, KALIKASAN, is a publication series of the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development (BCSD). Kaalaman is a Filipino term for knowledge while Likas Yaman is a term for nature or natural resources. Kaalamang Likas Yaman literally means knowledge about nature. As FPE’s main thrust is BCSD in key biodiversity areas (KBAs) of the Philippines, this series is essential in presenting and promoting valuable theories, case studies, site assessments, best practices and other BCSD-related information. As a major repository of the knowledge base of FPE and its partners, KALIKASAN will serve as a series of dynamic and enriching resource materials that will educate the readers, particularly those involved in the environmental protection of KBAs, and equip them with both theoretical and practical knowledge. Kaalamang Likas Yaman may also refer to the richness (yaman) of natural or intuitive knowledge (kaalamang likas). This is in recognition of a priori knowledge of the people in local communities supported by FPE, especially among the grassroot communities and indigenous peoples, in environmental protection and conservation. KALIKASAN seeks to serve as a comprehensive BCSD reference and research source while tapping and augmenting the existing knowledge base of its partners, beneficiaries and communities. This is a legacy of FPE to the next generation of Filipino environmentalists who will continue and further develop the current advocacies and endeavors of FPE and its partners.


Captivating and idyllic white sand beach in Gigante Sur

An island way of life

Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

DISCLAIMER The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE).

Table of Contents

The Site at a Glance


A Common Direction in Conservation


Approaches and Strategies


Coastal Resources Assessment Results


Strategic Action Plan


Building On, Going Beyond the Plan






An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

The Site at a Glance


igantes Islands is a group of islands in the municipality of Carles off the northwest tip of Iloilo province, central Philippines. It is composed of three islands with seven barangays with an estimated total population of 17,462 (see Table 1). Table 1. Gigantes Islands Population by Island and Barangay Barangay Gigantes Norte Asluman Granada Gigantes Sur Gabi Lantangan Sicogon Island Alipata Buaya San Fernando TOTAL

Population (NSCB 2010) 2,849 3,045

2,326 4,004 1,650 1,543 2,045 17,462

An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

The islands are located within the Visayan Sea, one of the most productive fishing grounds in the country. Gigantes Islands are known for their bivalve (scallop/clam) and squid fisheries. On land, notable features include limestone karst forests, caves, and pristine white sand beaches, endowments that give the area a high potential for ecotourism development. As part of the Coral Triangle, these islands contain some of the world’s most biologically diverse and richest coastal and marine resources. The importance of these waters have been recognized by the six Coral Triangle countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste), whose governments have pledged to work together to promote the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources and address issues like food security, climate change, and species protection. Mangrove and white sand beach at Cabugao Gamay Is., Brgy. Gabi, Gigante Sur.

South and North Gigante Islands have also been recognized as a key site by the Alliance for Zero Extinction because the area, specifically South Gigante, is the only known habitat of the Critically Endangered amphibian Platymantis insulates. The species dwells on limestone karst forest and caves in forested lowlands. Recognizing the importance of this area, in 2012, the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) opened its support for the conservation of Gigantes Islands. The foundation partnered with the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs (ICODE) to facilitate the crafting of the islands’ Biodiversity Conservation Framework and Strategic Plan, as well as an initial assessment of its coastal resources.

An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

A Common Direction in Conservation


ith the implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160), most of the powers to manage and decide over the utilization of local resources were shifted from the national to the local government units (LGUs). Responsibilities for providing health, economic, agriculture, and social services and programs were devolved to local institutions. While the law has also opened and widened communities’ access to and involvement in government systems and programs, community and municipal leaders are challenged to efficiently spend their local revenue share and address the varying and sometimes conflicting needs of their constituents. This situation tends to make LGUs heavily reliant on their available natural resources as input to development initiatives. Marine and land resources are converted into tangible revenues, economic investments and enterprise development—sometimes (if not most) with absolute disregard of the principles of responsible stewardship and sustainable development. In spite of the rich natural resources of the Visayan Sea, there has been increasing concern that the area is already being fished beyond sustainable levels and important coastal habitats are being degraded or destroyed. In Gigantes Islands, the habitats of terrestrial species are also being threatened by “shifting agriculture, human encroachment of the forest over the limestone karst and caves, guano mining, and the quarrying of limestone” (Diesmos, et al. in IUCN 2012).

An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

The town of Carles, where Gigantes Islands are located, is the second poorest municipality in Iloilo province. The act of balancing the needs of an economically challenged population and the imperative to conserve, protect and rehabilitate the area’s remaining resources is a tough one. A misguided development direction could even worsen the situation. To address this challenge, the FPE-ICODE project commenced with the following objectives:

Generate and consolidate data pertinent to the assessment of coastal, marine and land resources of Sicogon and Gigantes Islands, Carles.

Facilitate and come up with a conservation framework and comprehensive strategic development plan that are integral to community priorities and development agenda.

Increase the awareness and social accountability of the community in protecting and promoting their environmental resources through active participation in the resource assessment and conservation planning.

An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

Community situation and resource assessment.

Approaches and Strategies


anking on the principle of local capacity and knowledge to craft plans and institute mechanisms for sustainable use of environmental resources, the project team relied heavily on building and instituting partnerships between and among communities, barangay-based organizations and local leaders. Guided by the frameworks on population, health and environment and sustainable integrated area development, conservation strategies incorporated approaches that address the community’s situations, needs and issues alongside their marine resources and health conditions. The framework for biodiversity conservation in the area called for the engagement of technical experts. Thus, this assignment involved participation of various stakeholders, national government agencies, LGUs, and the academe. The academe served as the technical and knowledge base that assisted the communities in understanding, situating and contextualizing their experiences. A combination of approaches and strategies that are integrative, inclusive and participatory were attempted such as constructive engagement; multi-sectoral, multilevel, and multi-stakeholder representation/participation in planning activities; and engagement of technical partners.

An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

MAJOR ACTIVITIES Stakeholder Engagement At the beginning of project implementation, ICODE initiated partnerships with important stakeholders in the area like the local government of Carles and Northern Iloilo Alliance for Coastal Development (NIACDEV). Partners in the academe included the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV), with UPV leading the conduct of the assessment of coastal resources and NIPSC participating in the development of the biodiversity conservation framework and strategic action plan. To ensure the cooperation and support of the barangay officials and the local people in the area, ICODE, for a period of three months, engaged the services of two community facilitators (CF) who were then involved in an ICODE undertaking to develop the capacity of barangay officials and community volunteers on participatory local governance in the area. The CFs were responsible in community mobilization work assisted by the Governance and Local Democracy Course volunteers. They also joined the technical team in the conduct of preparatory community activities leading to the strategic planning workshop. Consultations and project orientation sessions were held at the provincial, municipal and per-island levels to thoroughly acquaint stakeholders with the scope of the project and discuss their possible roles in its implementation. These ensured the participation of the following stakeholders or stakeholder groups: •

regional representatives of national agencies, i.e., Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Department of Agriculture mayor, vice mayor and some members of the municipal council

Municipal Stakeholders’ Orientation and Consultation

An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

FPE PUBLICATION TEAM Editorial Advisers: Godofredo T. Villapando, Jr. Executive Director Myrissa L. Tabao Regional Unit Manager for the Visayas Publication Coordinator: Information and Communication Unit


An Island Way of Life | Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo


Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs, Inc. (ICODE) ICODE envisions a dynamic, responsive and empowered network of non-government organizations (NGOs) in Iloilo province that enhances a people-centered, equity-led, sustainable and integrated area development. Its mission is creation of favorable and enabling environment to strengthen the network and member-NGOs in order to promote critical partnership with government and non-government institutions at the local, national, and international levels towards the establishment of creative and sustainable initiatives for people empowerment.

FPE is the first and largest grant-making organization for civil society environmental initiatives in the Philippines. Its support went primarily to protecting local conservation sites and strengthening community and grassroots-led environmental efforts in more than 65 critical sites through more than 1,300 projects grants. The establishment of FPE on January 15, 1992 was meant to abate the destruction of the country’s own natural resources. As many as 334 NGOs and grassroots organizations, along with 24 academic institutions, helped set its course through a process of nationwide consultations. Subsequently, Philippine and United States government agencies and NGOs raised the foundation’s initial $21.8-million endowment through an innovative “debt-for-nature swap”. Today, FPE remains committed in fulfi lling its roles as a catalyst for cooperation, grant maker, and fund facilitator for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Know more about FPE at

For more information, please contact: Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) 77 Matahimik Street Teachers Village, Diliman Quezon City 1101, Philippines Email: Telephone: (02) 9272186; (02) 9269629; (02) 9279403 Fax: (02) 9223022 Website: Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs, Inc. (ICODE) 36 D. B. Ledesma St., Jaro, Iloilo City 5000 Philippines Telephone: (033) 3203590; (033) 5086527

Kalikasan BSCD Knowledge Series Fifteen  

An Island Way of Life: Resource Assessment and Strategic Plan Development for Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo

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