Monday, August 2, 2010

Calatagan paints walls to save dolphins

     Wildlife advocate AG Saño aims to paint 23,000 dolphins
by October in the Philippines. 
Calatagan, Batangas – With the hunting and onslaught fast threatening the dolphin population worldwide, residents here have found another way of protecting of said marine mammals from extinction in a form of a mural painting.      The said project was spearheaded by animal rights activist and landscape architect AG Saño, who plans to paint 23,000 dolphins on public and private walls all over the country by October, to protest the dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Japan.
    From July 21 to 23, hundreds of volunteers painted about 2,000 dolphins in the walls of Lucsuhin National High School, the Solid Waste Management facility and Calatagan Public Cemetery, as part of their advocacy.
   “I’m campaigning against dolphin slaughters that has been happening and dolphin captivity training around the world. Here in the Philippines, facilities (to capture dolphins) are already in place in Subic and Misamis and that’s what we are opposing,” Saño told the Southern Luzon Inquirer in an interview.
     In an interview, he said that in Taiji, it has been a common practice by the people to put an enclosure to trap the dolphins inside a cove.
     Bantay Dagat volunteer Jessie De Los Reyes joins the
 group of students to create the first ever dolphin mural in 
    These dolphins will in turn be sold to the trainers in amusement parks for about $150,000 each while those weren’t chosen for entertainment eventually end up as “tuna” meat and eaten for the consumption of Japanese children.
     “We decided to do this painting in order to have a global clamour to stop the killing of dolphins and to show that even though we’re far away from Japan, we just cannot allow the slaughter of dolphins. We should act now and not wait until the dolphins are gone,” he added.
    At the start of the activity, each of the volunteers was given dolphin-shaped cut-outs, which they would trace on the 200 meter alternate walls of Lucsuhin Elementary School with a pencil.
    Each volunteer was required to initially sketch at least 200 dolphins in order to reach the Saño’s quota of 2,000 dolphins for Calatagan.
    The volunteers, consisting of students, teachers and municipal government officials also showed their creativity as they sketched designs of bubbles, waves, sea grasses, sea turtle and octopus on the wall of dolphins.
    No specific pattern was followed and the participants were given the freedom to create their own masterpiece using their own style.
    Armed with their paintbrush, the student volunteers, led by Saño himself, initially painted the dolphin designs with white paint.
   On the succeeding days, the team will blend the colors black, blue, gray, yellow, green and orange to make the painting more appealing and attractive.
   With the way the walls were designed and painted, who would have thought that ordinary students and not master painters did the art works?
    Several patterns of dolphin designs were shown. Some drawings of school of dolphins was designed in a spiral manner, while others were done horizontally and vertically.
    Others just made a simple design of a mother dolphin gleefully playing with her babies.
    After they were done painting the walls of Lucsuhin National High School, the team of painters then proceeded with making another set of dolphin designs at the walls of the Solid Waste Management Dumpsite and the Calatagan Public Cemetery on the succeeding days.
    Jessie de los Reyes, a Bantay Dagat volunteer and project coordinator of Conserve and Protect Oceans Foundation, said that they had painted about 2,813 dolphins and a bryde’s whale in the three-day activity.
    What was once a dull wall was turned into an instant tourist attraction as some of the students and passers-by have even taken photos of themselves with the dolphin paintings as background.
    Saño, who has been a staunch advocate of dolphin protection for the past 11 years, said he decided to make an advocacy in the form of a painting so that the ordinary children will easily learn to appreciate the dolphins whenever they see those works of art.
   “When they learn to appreciate the dolphins, they will begin to love and take care of them,” Saño added.
    Saño’s message was clear, at least for the hundreds of students who volunteered for the painting activity.
   Carmela Paraon, a 3rd year high school student in Lucsuhin National High School, has never seen a dolphin all her life.
   Yet she feels happy that in her own little way, she was able to help in the protection of the dolphins through a simple art work that volunteers like her did.
  “I joined the project because I wanted to help the environment. I can help save dolphins by not throwing garbage in the seas so that they will have a safe habitat,” Paraon said. (Marlon Alexander S. Luistro)
(Photos courtesy of Mr. Jessie De Los Reyes)

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