Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Saving Danjugan

THE power of art is all-encompassing. It can express one's soul, inspire people, and transform lives. And save Danjugan Island.

Thirty-two Negrense artists have joined forces with the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI) and Gallery Orange to launch "Saving Danjugan Sanctuary," a benefit art exhibit for marine conservation around Danjugan Island and southern Negros.

The exhibit will be opened tomorrow, April 22, as the world celebrates Earth Day, at 7 p.m. at the Gallery Orange in Mandalagan, Bacolod.

Sculptures, photos, paintings, and mixed media will be featured in the exhibit by artists Charlie Co, Dennis Ascalon, Raymond Legaspi, PG Zuloaga, Wayne Forte, Susanito Sarnate, Darel Javier, Barry Cervantes, Hilario Campos III, Roderick Tijing, JayR Delleva, Junjun Montelibano, Rodney Martinez, MIkiboy Pama, Juan Rosalia, Jose"Buglas" Carreon Jr., Marcollin Cabawatan, Nilda Claveraz, Leah Samson, Moreen Austria, Cindy Ballesteros, Alexandria Mesias, Kaila Ledesma Trebol, Christine Bangero, Karina Broce Gonzaga, Marse Cuenca, Chris Marie Dumasis, Matt Yrad, Elwah Gonzales, Edmund Bacia, Maria Krisdale Laursen, and Totc Co.

Danjugan Island is a marine reserve and sanctuary off Barangay Bulata in Cauayan town, about three hours south of Bacolod.

Danjugan is a lush, 43-hectare island rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity. This island, about 1.5 kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers at its widest point, has five lagoons and is covered with limestone forests providing asylum to many wildlife species that struggle to exist in the mainland.

Given its small size, it is a gem of an island that holds incredible biodiversity. It is home to a vast species of birds, bats, mangroves, corals and fishes.

At least 72 bird species, 10 bat species and 22 butterfly species have been recorded on the island.

At least 17 species of mangroves, 572 fish species belonging to 139 genera, 244 species of hard corals, eight species of seagrasses and 74 species of macroalgae have been also been documented there.

Visitors to Danjugan are always treated to an exciting experience of seeing wildlife in their unspoiled natural habitat, such as a nesting pair of sea eagles, the rare tabon scrub fowl and beautiful kingfishers, pigeons and orioles.

Danjugan’s underwater world is a treat to those who snorkel or dive, with its thriving coral reefs that are home to colorful reef fishes, the very elusive Napoleon Wrasse and the endangered giant clam.

There are really very few places left in this country with so much wildlife living together in such a small place. Places like this need to be protected and preserved. It really is nature at its best!

The Danjugan exhibit will be opened by eminent artist and critic Cid Reyes. As an artist, he has held as many as 17 solo exhibitions.

He is the author and editor of Conversations on Philippine Art, a book of interviews published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He has produced coffee-table books on four National Artists for visual arts—Arturo Luz, J. Elizalde Navarro, Bencab (co-authored with Alfred Yuson), and Napoleon Abueva. He also co-authored Herencia: The BPI Art Collection and Tanaw: The Central Bank Art Collection. He received the Art Critic of the Year award from the Manila Art Quarterly, and was Hall of Fame awardee in Art Criticism in 2004.

PRRCFI has worked towards the conservation of Danjugan Island through environmental education, nature tourism and alternative livelihood.

In an interview yesterday, Trebol, one of the 32 artists, says Danjugan has been a natural classroom to hundreds of public school students in the municipalities of Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan through the Danjugan Environmental Education Program (DEEP).

She says they have a new lineup of elementary and secondary schools to visit Danjugan, and sending each of them will depend on the resources they can generate from the exhibit.

One trip per school with 24 students would cost P30,000, she adds.

We hope to continue our work with the people's support and with Danjugan Island as our vessel in inspiring today's youth to become tomorrow's conservationists, the group said in a statement.

The exhibition will run until April 30.
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