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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sabang Gibong Community: Waterworld

by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
August 9, 2004; posted at www.thefreeman.com

THE Naliyagan Festival of the province of Agusan del Sur brought over thirty youngsters to the Agusan Marshland as part of the 2nd Datu Lipus Macapandong Climb, Caving and Marshland Adventure which is one of the highlights of the said festivity.

I believe the province prefer the young to be there because of our infectious adventurous spirit. It is indeed an honor to be part of that crowd because only those who are proverbial children in their hearts could rejoice at the sights of purple herons, of water lilies and water spinachs; of floating huts and of visitor-waving kids at a humble waterworld settlement - the Sabang Gibong community.

The participants maneuvered in the snaking, writhing Agusan river on a three-hour motor banca ride, painting expectations on river water the color of mocha; entertaining the hope of visiting seven lakes within the marshland; and, of course, the experience to see upclose some endemic crocodile species like the Crocodylus porosus and the Crocodylus mindorensis, as well as the snailfin lizard which is also endemic in the area.

The Agusan Marshland is one of the biggest wetlands in Asia, in terms of area, that is about 19,196.558 hectares. It is the wintering ground of the migratory water and wetland birds from the Southeast Asia Region, taking the East Asian Flyway to Australia. It is also host to a wide array of rare, threatened and endangered species and is considered the most significant wetland in the Philippines.

Found in the middle of the Agusan River Basin, the Agusan Marsh is the third largest river basin the country, within the municipalities of San Francisco, Loreto, La Paz, Veruela and Rosario.

There are about 33 species of flowering plants found at the Agusan Marsh and a total of 102 bird species were identified by the 1991 wetland survey team. Among the endangered bird species found in the area are the oriental darter (Anhinga melonogaster) and the purple heron (Area purpurea).

The marshland is also noted for its high population of wandering whistling ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata) and small fruit bats. There are also 22 lizard species and seven snake species including the reticulater phyton and the Philippine cobra (Naja naja).

The tour provided vital information on how important wetlands are to the ecosystem, how they are classified and how they are affected by human intrusion. Freshwater wetlands can be classified into swamps, marshes, prairie potholes and bogs.

Above all, the trip to the Agusan marshland showcased the simplicity of the Sabang Gibong dwellers who delight in their mudfish-drying industry.

These are people who possess a more infectious spirit, people who delight in their utter contentment and who revel in their waterworld, one that gives and provides them a life and sustains that life abundantly. (/30)

2/14/2006 11:54:00 AM | Anonymous arnel said....   

gud day!

mam the total land area of agusan marsh is 110,298 hectars base on PENRO, agusan sur.
im d event organizer of 3rd datu lipus makapandong climb.