[ Manila Bulletin Online ] February 26, 2009
In a landmark public-private partnership, two entities have come up with the Philippines’ contribution to the United Nations Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) – the deployment of an artificial reef around Boracay’s waters aimed at regenerating the island’s denuded corals.
Eco-Coral Corp., a subsidiary of the Winace Group of Companies chaired by Teodorico T. Haresco Jr., established a working arrangement with the local government of Malay, Aklan, headed by Mayor Ceciron Cawaling, for the deployment of EcoCoral’s artificial reef. Only 2 percent reportedly remain of Boracay’s natural corals.
The project will help create livelihood and food security, two priorities set forth in the UN Coral Triangle Initiative espoused by the Philippine government. During her visit to the United States in June, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared, "It is good for our people, for jobs, for growth, and for a healthy, sustainable environment to make initiatives like CTI work. Our people will only suffer more in the long run if we do not invest today for our generations tomorrow.’’
The coral program serves as the Winace Group of Companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. "While our goal is to support Malay and Boracay tourism and livelihood, we’re also taking a longer view.
We leave this legacy behind for others, including our children, to benefit from," Chairman Haresco said.
Eco-Coral, with the Malay government, will deploy a patented, pH-neutral artificial reef that promotes quick coral growth. It will be assembled in various underwater structures, including a grotto.
"We’re raising Boracay’s attractions to the next level," Haresco said. "It will now be possible to get married in Boracay, underwater!"
Eco-Coral’s sister company, Technostrat, plans to deploy an observation platform and "EcoWalker" undersea walking systems.