FOR many years, Cleanergy Park has been a go-to destination for visitors who wish to see a model of habitat conservation and biodiversity management in an urban setting, as well as a critically endangered species of sea turtle and their hatchlings being freed to the sea.
Established by the Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower) distribution subsidiary, Davao Light, and Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. in 2014, the management of Cleanergy Park is headed by Davao Light Reputation Enhancement Department Head Fermin Edillon.
"If you remember, this project was conceptualized when the late Councilor Leo Avila III created Task Force Pawikan, wherein he coordinated and partnered with us as it was identified that this area was where pawikans (turtles) lay eggs. So I really can't take all the credit," Edillon recalled.
Sir Fermin, as he is fondly called, narrated that before he headed the project, he was part of a non-government organization (NGO). He was later recruited by his former boss, Mr. Vic Sumalinog, to cover one of the latter's staff who was on leave.
"I guess that became a blessing in disguise because I became a part of this significant project that not only conserves and preserves our natural resources but also educates the people about the importance of nature and the environment," he said.
He thinks that although the dynamics of the job were totally different from when he was at the NGO, the nature of his work at the Cleanergy Park is directly related to his passion for community development, so he was confident he could pull it off.
Since its launching, various guests including students and high-ranking government officials, from local to foreign delegates, have visited the park, especially on Saturdays, conducting activities like coastal cleanups or even going on a guided tour and witnessing the release of pawikan hatchlings back to the sea.
Edillon revealed that he is an introverted person but his job requires him to be more outgoing as he needs to engage with the guests and visitors of the park.
"By default, human sa akong trabaho mag-recharge ko by being alone (By default, after my work here [at the park], I recharge by being alone)," he explained.
"Mahimo man gud ka'ng malipayon nga makita nimo ang daghang bata nga (You become happy seeing many children) become excited and informed about the importance of the turtles, and makita nimo ang support sa nagkalain-laing grupo (and witness the support of the various groups)," he shared.
A BS-Biology graduate of Davao Doctors College, Edillon said that part of his team’s role is to make guests understand how critical the role of pawikans and all other endangered species in the ecological system are, and how they can be catalysts in preserving and protecting the lives and ecosystems of these creatures.
"There are a lot of ways they can help. If they could not participate in the activity, then at least they can help in sharing the event. Maskin mag-share sa ilang (Even just sharing on their) social media accounts, that would create a ripple effect to the community, creating awareness nga naa diay tay ingon ini ug pwede diay ta maka-help sa atong park through ingon-ani (that we have this activity and we can help the park through this activity)," he said.
Edillon proudly shared that he and his team successfully established and continuously sustain a Pawikan Rescue Center inside the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park as a testament to its advocacy to conserve and protect the pawikans and their marine habitat.
He acknowledged the heartwarming feeling of learning that their guests, especially those from the nearby communities, saw the positive changes in the area, which made him realize just how much the park means to the community.
“Makaingon sila nga lahi man to tong una, karon totally changed na gyud. Those are the feedbacks nga lami paminawon tungod nakita nimo ang result 10 years since na-establish ang park (They can say that it was very different before and it has changed totally. Those are the feedback that is nice to hear because you see the result 10 years since we established the park),” Edillon shared.
As more people visit the area and as more positive changes undertake its development, Edillon is left more and more inspired to lead community development through the environmental advocacies of the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park.
“It gives me a sense of comfort and encouragement that future generations — my children’s children — will still be able to set foot in a place that turtles know and deem as their birthplace, their hatchling’s birthplace, and their sanctuary,” pondered Edillon.
Moving forward, AboitizPower, Davao Light, and Aboitiz Foundation, along with its partners, will aim for the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park to be sustainable so that future generations can still witness and learn from marine species and their habitats.