IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay--After a 27-month hiatus, environmentalist and long-distance swimmer Ingemar "Pinoy Aquaman" Macarine swam across the Zamboanga Sibugay Bay along with 12 others on Monday morning (February 24).
Macarine returned into open water swimming and crossed the 2.7-kilometer crossing from Buluan Island to the shores of Buluan village in Ipil town.
Macarine's original swim course was intended for him to cross the 3.5-kilometer distance from Buluan Island to Serendipity Isle but was cut short due to the shift of tide and safety of the other swimmers.
"My comeback swim is easy but fun. It's my first time to swim with 12 other swimmers who are mostly into triathlon sports," he said, adding it was a privilege to help boost the confidence of neophyte swimmers defying the fears in the deeper waters.
The Sibugay Bay is the 35th crossing in his swim career that includes 17 marathon swim in and outside the country. He has been known for his long-distance, open sea crossings to promote his environmental and water sports tourism advocacies.
Macarine admired the efforts of local leaders in preserving and protecting the marine environment in Buluan Island.
No less than Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramon "El Presidente" Fernandez witnessed the successful crossings 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. Other countries abroad they only have six months period of time in the year which they can swim into the open-water," Fernandez said Sunday evening, a day before Macarine's swim.
"We have open-water marathon swimming competition in the Olympics and such kind of sports we can excel," Fernandez added.
One of the open swimmers, Japy Silapan, project manager of RARE Philippines-Zamboanga Sibugay area, a non-government organization that works to protect and promote marine conservation, said he shared the advocacy of Macarine to heighten calls for marine protection.
"If we can't protect our marine resource, our fishery sector considered the poorest of the poor will be affected and all of us will be adversely affected too because of scarcity of marine resources," Silapan said, adding he found the swim "fascinating and fun".
The activity was organized by Zamboanga Sibugay 2nd District Rep. Ann Hofer, and was part of the series of activities in celebration of 19th founding anniversary of Zamboanga Sibugay as a separate province. It also served as a tribute to the late founding governor George T. Hofer.
"I'm happy that this activity was a huge success. We needed to be successful in the preservation of the marine ecosystem, thus, we have to strengthen capacity to protect our natural marine resources in our localities," Hofer said.
Hofer said the Buluan Island Marine Sanctuary in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, won first place in the Most Outstanding Marine Protected Area (MPA) category in the 5th Marine Protected Area Awards and Recognition in October 2015. (Roel N. Catoto/PNA)