By Jojo Mangahis / Pacific Times

SCUBAsureros, the Hundred Islands’ organized team of licensed scuba divers turned underwater garbage collectors strike for a photo along one of the beaches of the area. PIA PHOTO

In an endeavor to keep the waters of the Hundred Islands National Park clean, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources joined forces with the Alaminos local government to embark once more on yet another “SCUBAsurero” underwater clean-up drive.

Launched in 2016, the underwater clean-up program has been employing “SCUBAsureros” – a portmanteau of “scuba” and “basurero” – who are scuba divers who help as trash collectors under the waters around the islands.

From an annual endeavor, the SCUBAsurero program is now held every month to ensure the conservation, protection and recovery of the Hundred Islands, said  Miguel Sison, the tourism officer of Alaminos City in Pangasinan.

The SCUBAsureros consist of 30 trained and licensed scuba divers not only from Alaminos but even volunteers from national government agencies and private groups.

To further strengthen this program, Mamerto Viray, team leader of the SCUBAsureros, said the Hundred Islands Diving Club is looking at training even non-divers and the youth for free to help keep Alaminos garbage-free.

Moreover, visitors are encouraged to maintain the cleanliness of the island through the “Basura Mo, Iuwi Mo” initiative that requires tourists to shell out a P200 refundable group bond that will be given back upon returning to the mainland with their garbage for proper disposal.

Under the program, two bags will be provided to each visiting group, one for biodegradable trash and another for non-biodegradable materials.

In addition, visitors will be awarded a gift certificate that will entitle two persons for free entrance and free environmental fee on their next visit to the HINP.