Posted by maning on 3 September 2020 in English (English).

This is OSM way/445712235. It was edited twice and has 9 nodes and 2 tags.

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way/445712235 was created together with fisherfolks, its local government unit, a social action arm of a university, researchers and diving enthusiasts in Lian, Batangas. It was a culmination of years of grassroots organizing, research and community-based participatory mapping I was part of as a volunteer.

COSCA as the social action arm of the De La Salle University is working with the local fishing community in Kay Reyna (Lian, Batangas) through its community-based resource management program. Part of the community’s aspiration is to establish a community managed marine protected area (MPA) to protect and rehabilitate their marine ecosystem. During the summer of 2012, I was asked by friends to help in mapping Kay Reyna’s community-managed MPA.

My task is “simple”, grab a GPS and mark the location on the boundaries of the proposed MPA.

Community process for establishing the MPA

Prior to the actual day of MPA installation, the community has already conducted numerous community meetings and consultation about the benefits of establishing the MPA and which part of the sea will be delegated as limited access zones, protected zones, etc.

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All the community concerns were collectively discussed and addressed. The final consensus was in favor of establishing the MPA and the long term benefits is positive both for their livelihood and the marine ecosystem surrounding the community.

Installing the MPA markers

During the actual MPA marker establishment we split our group to 3 boats.

The lead team is the first crew to proceed to the predetermined MPA boundary point. A couple of divers will then check if the designated spot does not have any coral that may be damaged when we drop the concrete anchor. Adjustments are decided depending on the condition of marine life underwater.

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We need to avoid damaging coral like this.

On a bigger boat are the rest of the crew including all the materials needed to install the marker. These include a concrete anchor, ropes, floaters and flags made from recycled and locally available materials.

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Once the location was determined safe to deploy, the bigger boat will proceed to the location to drop the anchor and tie the floating flag marker.

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This work requires careful coordination. Each member of the team knows their role because we know that a simple mistake can lead to accident and injury to the divers or damage to the coral ecosystem.

I am really amazed at the skill of these fishermen. They “dance” under water.

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Finally, my boat will proceed to the location to mark the position using a GPS.

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Me at the rear end of the small boat, probably too dizzy to stand after a full day on the small boat

We repeat the same process for all the corners of the MPA.

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Completed MPA border overlayed with the loopy GPS tracks.

Establishing the local ordinance for the MPA

In addition to physically marking the MPA boundaries, it is necessary to establish a local municipal ordinance for the MPA. The ordinance is a legal instrument that affirms the establishment and management of an MPA within the municipal waters under Fisheries Code of 1998 (Republic Act 8550).

The community has been working with the local government for years to secure this ordinance. During one of our MPA boundary installations the representative from the municipal government requested a map of the MPA as part of the document that will be used for crafting the ordinance. At the end of the day, we finalized the map (in QGIS) along with the detailed technical descriptions. We immediately sent it over for printing to the municipal office in time for the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC) meeting. The council approved the ordinance.

The ordinance allowed the fisherfolk community to legally enforce guidelines and restrictions within the zones of the MPA.

I am personally proud to be part of this mapping activity. The collaboration process we went through captures what I believe to be what OpenStreetMap should aspire to be: community-driven and intentional with working within the local context. Mapping is only a small part of this initiative but it can amplify the great work that marginalized communities have been pursuing for decades in the Philippines.


This post is dedicated to Rey “Apyong” Pomarca. Apyong has been a community organizer for more than 3 decades. He is a great friend and cares deeply about the marginalized sectors he served. As a community organizer in Kay Reyna, he has facilitated all the work I shared on the sidelines. He died last month.

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Salamat Apyong! (third person from left)! 🤟🏾

See also

Photo credits: Maning Sambale, Joey Rosal, Lian Fisherfolk Association

Location: Lumaniag, Batangas, Calabarzon, 4216, Philippines

Comment from Chetan_Gowda on 3 September 2020 at 10:58

You inspire many! Thanks Maning

Comment from jimkats on 3 September 2020 at 12:44

That’s an incredible work and co-operation.

Comment from ChristianA on 11 September 2020 at 06:36

Fantastic work, well done!

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