Marangas Island, an enchanted place that helped save the environment.
Even at this modern age, many people are still confounded by supernatural things. These things lie in the realm of the unexplainable that cause people to behave in a certain way. What people think and believe become their reality. This is the case of Marangas Island.
In defining the environment as a concept, people's beliefs are considered as one of the things that make it up. This is because of the idea that anything surrounding a person, whether tangible or intangible, is his environment. His interaction is determined by how he perceives his environment.
Marangas: The Enchanted Island
The case of the enchanted island of Marangas, somewhere in the remote, southwestern town of Quezon in Palawan illustrates how people's beliefs can influence their actions. The island is believed to be enchanted because of an enigmatic event several years ago.
A fisherman allegedly docked on the island to take a break from a wearisome fishing activity. Suddenly, a nest of snakes sprung somewhere in the rock crevices and wriggled towards him. The poor fisherman panicked and frantically boarded his boat and rowed with all his might. This story spread like wildfire in the small town and scared everyone. Gossips further added dramatic twists in the story that made it a mystical lore. In addition, a farmer recounted that he left a herd of goats in the island. Those goats disappeared without a trace. Since then, nobody dared approach the island, even fish near it.
The rocky shores of Marangas Island give it an air of enchantment.
I was involved in coastal research in the area several years ago. One of our activities is to assess the coral condition in the bay where Marangas Island is located. Being unfamiliar with the place, we sought the aid of our boatman to bring us to places known to have coral reef growth. We scoured the place by snorkeling and using a manta board towed by a motorized boat. We were close to covering all places with reefs but I noticed that our boatman did not recommend an island in the middle of the bay. I asked him the name of the island and why we cannot go there. He recounted the story of Marangas Island. Despite the scary story, I asked him to bring us near the island, thinking that the fringes of this island may be preserved because of the attitude of people towards it. Illegal fishers avoid the place.
He finally agreed to bring us to the island on the condition that we will not dock there. We approached the island and anchored a few hundred meters from its shores. We donned our wet suits, slipped on our flippers and readied our SCUBA diving gears. We have to wear our buoyancy control device with the tank attached to it in the water because these are heavy and cumbersome to suit up in the cramped space of the banca. The weather was quite fine and water visibility was high at about 10 o'clock in the morning.
Large Tabulate and Branching Corals
I was amazed at what I saw. Large tabulate and branching coral colonies abound in the place and butterfly fishes, too. The presence of butterfly fishes indicate that the reef is still in a very fine condition. In those areas we swam around, we felt we are in a paradise under the sea. The reefs were well preserved.
Large, tabulate corals surrounding Marangas Island.
Preserve the Environment
This experience confirmed the idea that people's beliefs can help preserve the environment. Many rural folks still believe that there are spirits that live in rocks, and trees, and inanimate objects. Because of this, they treat these objects with respect. Misfortune will come upon those that challenge the spirits. In so doing, these places are not defiled.
This is an important finding useful in natural resource management. Since whatever beliefs that are inculcated in people’s minds determine how they will treat their environment, enchanted places must remain just that. Science need not refute this belief as enchanted places are respected by rural folks, and for that matter, help preserve the environment.