IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay (MindaNews / 24 February) —Environmental lawyer and long-distance swimmer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine, along with 12 other mostly neophyte open water swimmers, successfully crossed the Sibugay Bay Monday morning.
After a 27-month hiatus, Macarine returned into the open water and conquered the 2.7-kilometer (km) crossing from Buluan Island to the shores of Barangay Buluan in Ipil town.
Macarine’s original swim course was from Buluan Island to Serendipity Isle with a total distance of 3.5 km, but it was cut short due to the shifting tide and on concerns for the safety of the other swimmers.
“My comeback swim was easy but fun. It’s my first time to swim with 12 others who are mostly into triathlon sports,” he said.
Macarine expressed hopes that he had helped boost the confidence of neophyte swimmers in defying the fears of ocean depth.
He also voiced admiration to the efforts of local leaders in preserving and protecting the marine environment in Buluan Island.
The Sibugay Bay is the 35th crossing in his swimming career that includes 17 marathon swims inside and outside the country.
Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez, a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission, witnessed the successful crossing of Macarine and the other swimmers.
“We are promoting open water swimming in the country because we are endowed with thousands of islands across the country with a good climate,” he told MindaNews Sunday evening.
According to him, other countries only have six months in a year that are suitable to open water swimming.
Fernandez said the Philippines has the potentials to excel in open water marathon swimming, which is included in the Olympics.
Japy Silapan, a project manager of RARE Philippines for the Zamboanga Sibugay area who joined the open water swim, said he joined the advocacy swim of Macarine to drumbeat calls for marine protection.
RARE is an international non-government organization that works to protect and promote marine conservation.
“If we can’t protect our marine resource, our fishery sector which is considered (among) the poorest of the poor, will be affected and all of us will be adversely affected too because of scarcity of marine resources,” he said.
Silapan described the open water swim as “fascinating and fun.”
Zamboanga Sibugay Second District Representative Ann K. Hofer organized the activity, which is part of the celebration of the 19th foundation anniversary of Zamboanga Sibugay and as a tribute to the late founding governor George T. Hofer.
“I’m happy that this activity was a huge success. We need to be successful in the preservation of our marine ecosystem, thus we have to strengthen the capacity of our localities to protect our natural marine resources,” she said.
Hofer said the Buluan Island Marine Sanctuary here won first place in the Most Outstanding Marine Protected Area category during the 5th Marine Protected Area Awards and Recognition in October 2015.