18 June 2020
By Dr Lota A. Creencia, Lea Janine Gajardo and Karen Madarcos, Western Philippines University 

Expounding the Blue Communities (BC) Programme not just as a research project but as the communities themselves is a sense the BC Philippines team want to send. 

Inclusivity is embedded in every aspect of the programme, recognizing the internal strength of the communities. Aside from the natural resources, we learn from the minds and ideas of the locals. Blue Communities Philippines, in its third year, has brought into play activities that build up community participation.

After the data collection and analysis stage, the BC team conducted a report presenting the programme’s accomplishments as of December 2019 in each of the 10 study sites. Along with it, the results from community profiling and BC Survey, which include their perception on marine resources, smoking and alcoholism, and health and well-being, were presented and discussed for the purpose of validation and refinement. Being the outcome of the community's views, the report was well accepted and made the local leaders become aware of their people's thoughts and recognized that they need to be informed more on the status of their community to make essential decisions for local governance. The 2019 Blue Communities Report was also disseminated to stakeholders, partners and collaborators.

Baseline data and Blue Communities Survey Result validation in case study barangays of Blue Communities – Philippines
While continuously co-creating protocols and manuscripts with local and international collaborators, BC Philippines also hosted a Symposium that gained an overwhelming response from national government office representatives and students from Western Philippines University (WPU). Training on qualitative research was also completed with the team, members of faculty and researchers from WPU.

Blue Communities Symposium featured the initial study results of Blue Communities participant, Timur Jack Kadioglu’s from his research with an island community on Palawan.
Maps of Taytay Bay generated by the Earth Observation team at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) required field visit to some areas to mark the periphery of the habitats, which had been identified so have some discrepancies. This was undertaken by the WPU team to initially validate the habitats and analysed alongside local GIS data. Water samples were regularily collected to measure water quality in the local study sites. The team also visited the Pangatalan Island Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Taytay, Palawan following discussions about possible research collaborations with the Sulubaai Environmental Foundation and a research fellow from the Centre for Island Research and Environmental Observatory in France.

Field visits for initial resource assessment and water sample collection for local studies of Blue Communities - Philippines
Looking forward and beyond, the BC Philippines will continue to work with the international collaborators while strengthening its relationships with local stakeholders from coastal communities, policy makers and government workers. “Citizen science” will be tapped to further utilize local knowledge and data and foster inclusive engagement. Information and Education Campaign (IEC) on the programme’s results and advocacies will be shared with the communities and the public.

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