Bacolod-based SEAOIL employees joined the mangrove planting activity in Brgy. Punta Taytay, Bacolod

SEAOIL Philippines Inc. has strengthened its commitment to environmental protection through the expansion of the Adopt-a-Mangrove project, a multi-party agreement to plant and protect a two-hectare mangrove forest in Brgy. Punta Taytay.

Apart from SEAOIL, five other parties, including the government of Barangay Punta Taytay, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), SEAOIL Foundation Inc., and University of St. La Salle (USLS)-College of Engineering, today signed an expanded memorandum of agreement that aims to accelerate the development of the mangrove plantation.

The original agreement for the Adopt-a-Mangrove project was signed in 2005 by four parties: Barangay Punta Taytay, DENR, SEAOIL, and USLS. A brainchild of the USLS-College of Engineering, the project was put in place to replace the college's Adopt-a-Mountain program. USLS sought the DENR's help in identifying and providing a coastal area for mangrove planting. A two-hectare area in Barangay Punta Taytay was then identified. To help bankroll the project, USLS tapped SEAOIL as its private sector partner. 

The proponents agreed to beef up the agreement this year by making each party's responsibilities clearer and more specific, and by allowing new partners to come on board.

Under the amended agreement, the DENR, aside from identifying and making available the site for the plantation, is also now tasked to provide technical assistance for the development, maintenance, and protection of the area, as well as to source suitable planting materials. 

USLS should schedule regular planting activities in  the area, with the participation of its students. It should also rally the support of the La Sallian community to provide technical and financial support for the development of the mangrove plantation. 

Barangay Punta Taytay should continue its practice of planting new seedlings and watching over the mangrove area. 

SEAOIL will continue to provide funding for the purchase of seedlings and to ensure that its employees actively participate in all planting activities. It will also fund the construction of permanent markers around the plantation and a granite signage identifying the area as under the care of the parties to the agreement. The company will likewise submit quarterly monitoring reports, with the help of USLS, to the DENR. 

The Coast Guard will provide the necessary assistance during regular planting activities, and ensure the protection of the project area, with the help of Brgy. Punta Taytay. 

SEAOIL Foundation, for its part, will formulate educational materials that highlight the importance of mangroves to the environment, as well as spearhead an information and education campaign regarding the importance of mangrove planting. 

“SEAOIL believes in investing in the environment. Aside from the monetary support that we are providing for this project, our employees also invest their time and effort in this endeavor by participating in the regular planting activities. We are honored to have been given this opportunity to help preserve the environment, in collaboration with our esteemed partners,” said SEAOIL Reseller-Visayas Head John Sales.

He added that SEAOIL would work closely with the other parties to the agreement to ensure that the Adopt-a-Mangrove project becomes a sustainable effort that could also be replicated in other coastal areas in the country.

For her part, SEAOIL Foundation Executive Director Abigail Ho said the project would allow the foundation to fulfill its mission of helping Filipinos achieve a better life through education and a healthy environment.

“As a newly established foundation, we are delighted to be part of such a worthwhile undertaking. The Adopt-a-Mangrove project fits perfectly with SEAOIL Foundation's thrust to be a champion for the environment, for education, for good governance, and for social entrepreneurship. We look forward to working with our partners in helping educate people about the importance of mangrove planting,” she said.

In 2009, the National Youth Commission named the Adopt-a-Mangrove project the Best Coastal Environmental Program in the Philippines. The award was handed out at the Malacanan Palace by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Since then, the planted area of the mangrove plantation has significantly increased. The area is now also being developed as a tourist destination, the first step being the construction of viewing decks. Restaurants on stilts have also been added so that visitors can enjoy a view of the mangroves and the ocean while they feast on the various seafood that Barangay Punta Taytay is known for.