• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Another eco-tourist site is in the making within the territorial waters of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
Called GC Ville (Giant Clam Village), it is located in the northeast portion of Lakawon Island, a prime tourist destination in Cadiz City, and showcases the conservation and preservation of giant clams, which are endemic in the area.
The 1.3 hectare GC Ville now has more than 2,000 giant clams, more than three years after being attended to and preserved by Hereliza Osorio, a former cashier of the island resort who lost her job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Osorio, a native of Sara, Iloilo, recalled that she was amazed by the different colors of the clams while gathering shells with her friends in the area. She started collecting them and placed in an area for conservation, until three clams increased their numbers to 200.
Her conservation efforts got the attention of the Cadiz City government, through Ike Escares of the City Agriculture Office, who shared her success story to Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr.
Osorio was later employed by the Cadiz City government as the caretaker of GC Ville.
Declared as a marine reserve area by the Cadiz City government, GC Ville is now a place where numerous species of fish, sea horse, and sea cucumbers abound.
Mayor Escalante, who toured local media at GC Ville, said based on their research, no other Clam Village exists in any part of the country.
It’s “hulog ng langit (heaven sent),” Escalante said, as it matches the thrust of the City government towards marine conservation.
While it has a long, long way to go, the mayor said they are open to suggestions on how to further improve it.
“Let’s just concentrate on this”, Escalante said, as he bared his plans to further expand the GC Ville area.
He also raised the possibility of putting up tours, with controlled number of visitors, as part of their awareness campaign to educate people on marine conservation, as well as in tourism promotion.
Marine biologist Ressa Tabigu-on said that GC Ville area, which is marked off by sea buoys, is off limits to fishing activities.*