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(Image credit: Dr. Thaddeus Lawas of UPLB-SESAM)

DOST-PCAARRD promotes Laguna de Bay's sustainable resource use and management in 2023 Anilag Festival Bike Ride

Laguna de Bay, the largest inland body of water in the Philippines and third largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, is home to an abundance of fish, mollusks, and plankton, among many others, and a source of livelihood to humans residing in surrounding provinces and cities.

As part of its mandate on formulating policies, plans, programs, projects, and strategies for science and technology (S&T) development in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sector, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) recognizes the importance of watershed protection and development and the numerous benefits that the community obtains from Laguna de Bay. In support of activities for inland aquatic biodiversity, the Council participates in local events to promote sustainable resource use and management of Laguna de Bay, such as the 2023 Anilag Festival Bike Ride.

The 2023 Anilag Festival Bike Ride

Organized by the University of the Philippines Los Baños - School of Environmental Science and Management (UPLB-SESAM) and in collaboration with the Provincial Government of Laguna and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the 2023 Anilag Festival Bike Ride was held on March 12, 2023, bearing the theme“Padyak Laguna, Para sa Lawa.” A total of 306 registered participants from different cities and municipalities in Laguna attended the event.

The bike ride is part of the Anilag Festival. Dubbed as Laguna's Mother of all Festivals, Anilag is a week-long celebration of the farmers' bountiful harvest and product, showcasing the province's heritage and promoting the province's tourism industry.

The UPLB project team, led by Dr. Rico C. Ancog, initiated the cycling event as one of the activities of the DOST-PCAARRD-funded advocacy project, “Policy Advocacy for the Adoption of Ecotourism as a Local Sustainable Development Solution for Laguna de Bay’s Resource Use and Management” (Project LEAD). It aims to develop a science-based model for the local government unit (LGU)-based tourism development plan that may be integrated into the LGU planning.

UPLB Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (VCCA) Roberto P. Cereno, DOST-PCAARRD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) as Deputy Director for Research and Development (R&D) Juanito T. Batalon, LLDA Community Development Officer Gerry Carandang, and Atty. Rodel Pederayon of the Provincial Government of Laguna welcomed the participants and shared their insights on the event during the program proper held at the Charles Fuller Baker Memorial Hall of UPLB.

Guests and participants during the program proper of the 2023 Anilag Festival Bike Ride at the UPLB Baker Hall (Image credit: Dr. Thaddeus Lawas of UPLB-SESAM)

VCCA Cereno greeted the participants and guests who supported the event and its advocacy. He highlighted the importance of conserving Laguna de Bay, asseconded by Dr. Batalon, emphasizing that the celebration was not merely about the benefits of cycling, but more so the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection as the foundation for lake management. Dr. Batalon encouraged the public to join the advocacy of protecting such a vital resource as Laguna de Bay provides numerous ecosystem services to the people of Laguna and its neighboring areas.

Opening message of Dr. Juanito T. Batalon (Image credit: Socio-Economics Research Division, DOST-PCAARRD)

LLDA Community Development Officer Carandang educated the public on the significance of the lake as a water resource as it provides a large share of Laguna's drinking water. This affirms the importance of the advocacy for sustainable resource use and management for the Lake. On the other hand, Atty. Pederayon, the representative of Laguna Governor Ramil L. Hernandez, expressed the support of the Provincial Government of Laguna for this advocacy. Following this was Dr. Ancog’s emphasis on the situation of Laguna de Bay and how domestic wastes significantly contribute to water pollution. He encouraged the general public to be “equally inspired” in appreciating and conserving Laguna de Bay. His message was followed by an informative audio-visual presentation about Project LEAD with a central message to “show and conserve the beauty of Laguna.”

Opening remarks of Dr. Rico C. Ancog, project leader of Project LEAD (Image credit: Dr. Thaddeus Lawas of UPLB-SESAM)

Mr. Myles Delfin of the Bike Scouts of the Philippines closed the program by conducting a road and safety orientation for cyclists prior to the participants’ bike ride to the Laguna Capitol in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Project LEAD and DOST-PCAARRD’s support

The 2023 Anilag Festival Bike Ride became a medium to raise awareness and deepen appreciation for the benefits of lake-based tourism management as a sustainable resource use and management option and its potential to generate income for the communities around Laguna de Bay.

The event gave way for UPLB and the Provincial Government of Laguna to officially forge a partnership for advocating the adoption of ecotourism as the local development solution and framework for the sustainable resource use and management of Laguna de Bay as part of the Project LEAD’s goals.

Funded by DOST-PCAARRD, Project LEAD seeks to help key stakeholders put in place measures that will improve Laguna de Bay's water quality and introduce livelihood opportunities both for lakeshore and non-lakeshore communities. This policy advocacy project is a proposed solution to the continuous degradation of the lake’s water quality and declining ecosystem services.

The project is an offshoot of the Council’s 2017 project, “Assessing the Implications of Various Resource Use and Management Options in Laguna de Bay”, which was implemented by UPLB, also under the leadership of Dr. Rico C. Ancog. This project assessed the implications of various resource management options for Laguna Lake and drew policy implications relevant to the optimal management options.

Signing of pledge of partnership between UPLB and the Provincial Government of Laguna (Image credit: Dr. Thaddeus Lawas of UPLB-SESAM)