February 26 was a non-working holiday in Zamboanga City as it celebrated its Charter Day or the “Dia de Zamboanga.” But for the hardworking men and women of the Zamboanga City Water District it was an opportunity to see the working conditions of its watershed employees and check its facilities on the ground.
At 2:30 PM, the team, headed by its General Manager,
Leonardo Rey D. Vasquez, set out for Sitio Carrion, Upper Salaan. The first batch was also joined by Director Abram Eustaquio one of the 5-man policy making body of the office. After an hour’s ride from Coco Pavilion in Pasonanca to the drop off point in Upper Salaan, the team started its 1-hour hike going to the Carrion Outpost.
Along the way, the GM Vasquez observed that the buffer zone area where occupants have planted coconut trees were already infested by cocolisap, a type of pest which devasted hectares of coconut plantations in the island of Basilan.
Upon reaching the Biodiversity Monitoring Station (BMS), GM Vasquez called for a consultative meeting together with key personnel from the Environment and Water Resources Department together with Dir. Eustaquio.
Each personnel was asked what their respective concerns were in their respective work areas. Among those concerns raised were the enhancement of the security measures adopted by the forest guards, which the general manager and the director strongly supported.
Early the next day, Dir. Eustaquio led a team which visited the majestic Bula Agua (which locally means “falls”). Despite the treacherous terrain, the group managed to reach destination in a mood of exhiliration. The pristine waters of Bulua Agua or Carrion Falls was a site to behold and a true treasure of the Pasonanca Natural Park.
The second batch of visitors to the Carrion BMS arrived the following day, February 27, 2018. Chairman Jose Vicente Atilano III and Dir. Milagros Fernandez, along with their staff, took the same rigorous trail to the BMS to visit the watershed facility in the area and take a look at the working conditions of the watershed guards. Arriving at the BMS they have appreciated the efforts that the watershed guards are putting on to protect the integrity of the Pasonanca Natural Park. Covering an area of of 12,000 hectares, effective security measures play a vital role in the protection of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, surviving watershed in the country. It is a home not only to a number of endemic species of flora and fauna but also includes a rare variety of domestic animals.
Director Milagros Fernandez, the board’s vice chair called attention to the poor road network and the lack of basic necessities which buffer zone dwellers could very well use.Health concerns, educational needs and livelihood opportunities are some urgent matters which need to be addressed Director Fernandez added.
She stressed the need for a more proactive participation of the local government unit in addressing the concerns and the needs of dwellers in the remote hinterands near the watershed.
Also making the trip were other top officials and staff of the water utility firm to include OIC Administration Group Reynaldo Cabilin, Wtaershed and Environmental Management Division head Eng’r Sonny Braulio, Building and Grounds Maintenance Division Officer in Charge Arnold Buscas, Sol Larete Kanindot, Board Terhnical Assistant Faith Nuval-Sanchez and Dorothy Doroja and Dianne Bordeos of the Office of the General Manager.
Findings and output of the two day trek were discussed and deliberated on, a day later during the regular board meeting, as the board and management sought to effect measures to help address the concerns raised during trip.