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After oil spill, Semirara folk start rebuilding lives

October 26, 2006

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer, Oct. 26, 2006

SEMIRARA ISLAND, ANTIQUE – Ten months after a massive oil spill polluted this island, residents have begun slowly rebuilding their lives, away from media glare now focused on Guimaras that is reeling from the nation’s worst environmental disaster.

Fishermen and shell gatherers say their catch has slowly increased although it is still less than before the oil spill.

“It’s a bit better,” says Ildefonso Decanta, 49, a fisherman from Barangay Semirara, of his catch in recent months. He now gets at least five kilos of fish per day, which he sells at P50 per kilo. But he hopes this will increase to 10 kilos, just like before the oil spill.

Nenita Genivacio, 62, says she now gets five plastic packs of shells daily. She sells each pack for P15 to P20. This is still lower than the 10 packs she used to gather, but she believes things will get better.

On Dec. 18, 2005, a National Power Corp. barge, battered by strong winds and waves, ran aground off Semirara Island as it was being towed by a tugboat to Oriental Mindoro from Masbate.

About 360,000 liters of bunker fuel was spilled from the nearly 900,000 liters stored in the barge’s four fuel tanks, causing damage to mangroves and marine life in parts of the 5,045-hectare island.

(For the full story, click Semirara lives.)

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