Known as 'The Birthplace of Philippine Surfing', Baler has become a well-known surf spot for locals and travelers alike.
Like other popular beach destinations often frequented by plenty of crowds, Baler is currently facing a serious trash problem. What was once a pristine shoreline is now often littered with plastic bags, empty bottles, and other single-use items.
That’s why last December, freelance architect-surfer-business owner of Surfskwela Baler Jovanne Lagman-Faraon voiced her opinion on Facebook about the polluted aftermath of the crowds in Baler. It captured the attention of plenty of concerned citizens, whose reactions ranged from anger to disappointment.
Jovanne moved to Baler after graduating from Architecture in UP Diliman back in 2015. Her passion for the bay goes beyond surfing or the spirit of simplicity—it's a place where she strongly resonates with.
That's why she started the Ocean Care Movement – Baler to raise environmental awareness on keeping the ocean clean. A new initiative with a big dream, the Ocean Care Movement believes that everyone can do their part to help save the waters.
In an exclusive interview with DG Traveler, Jovanne shares her thoughts on Baler, the inspiration behind Ocean Care Movement – Baler, and how we can help too.
What do you love most about Baler?
Jovanne: I kept coming back to Baler back when I was in college mainly for surfing. As often as I’ve come, I’ve learned that its culture and surroundings are different from the city, and I’ve appreciated it more each time—the people, the food, the environment, and the good energy it brings around me.
If you could describe Baler in just one word, what would it be and why?
Jovanne: Baler is a picturesque place to me. No matter how much developments grow, it will always be pleasing to the eyes, and its roots will always be seen.
How would you describe the current environmental situation in Baler? Was there a particular event or realization that triggered you to become more environmentally aware?
Jovanne: As a frequent surfer at Sabang Beach, one of Baler’s most famous beach breaks, I would normally see trash floating in the ocean as I paddle through.
Sadly, seeing trash along the coastline is a norm. One day, I realized that it was too much. It wasn’t the picturesque place I would describe it as anymore.
There were also a few tourists who would comment on the beach being a disgusting place, and that Baler badly needed help. It was a shame to face them with the reality we brought in, and I had to express that through social media.
Can you share with us the inspiration behind the Ocean Care Movement?
Jovanne: Social media is a powerful tool in this generation. Anything can be revealed with just one click, so I took advantage of sharing the reality of Baler’s trash situation. Concerned citizens finally spoke up and wanted to take action. Meetings were held, debates were thrown here and there, and analyses and missions were formed.
In the end, we came up with the first Sabang Beach Clean-Up Drive that was held last February. It was a great way to start this movement as we saw participants that came really wanted to make a stand. We had a similar event in April and we had supporters willing to put the word out in hopes of it reaching something or something who could help us resolve this trash issue.
How do you feel about the recent achievements that Ocean Care Movement has done so far?
Jovanne: I am quite overwhelmed with the awareness as we are moving fast but precise. The event led us to talks and partnerships with major stakeholders, interested partners, and friendly environmentalists who all share the same goals: to keep Sabang Beach clean and to educate the community on trash awareness.
Weekly clean-up drives will always be an achievement in our books, whether the participant count is high or low.
It’s the garbage we take out of the beach that matters and the voluntary work put into this that made us passionate in pursuing long-term plans.
What eco-friendly reminders or tips you would like to share with those planning to visit Baler?
Jovanne: To those planning to visit Baler, it would be nice to hang at the beach, but be sure to take home your trash. If a person is seen throwing trash freely into the open, try to ask them to pick the trash up instead.
Bring reusable straws and containers when ordering drinks or take-away. Bring an eco-bag for pasalubong shopping or simply just refuse single-use plastics. Tourists who practice zero waste management are also teaching the local community a way on how to lessen the use of plastic.
Learn more about Ocean Care Movement - Baler and find out how you can join their regular beach clean-ups held every Saturday by visiting their official Facebook Page! Traveling to The Birthplace of Philippine Surfing soon? Check out our exclusive partners in Baler.
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