Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bataan: Adopting a sea turtle at the Pawikan Conservation Center

For the longest time, I had been wanting to adopt a pawikan or sea turtle. It took quite a while for me to find the contact number of the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan. And when I finally did, they said there were no pawikan scheduled to hatch yesterday. But they also told me that if it was warm and sunny, some of the turtles would hatch earlier than expected.

Since it's quite far, and I didn't want to risk disappointment, I decided to watch the longest Holy Week procession in the country in Baliuag, Bulacan in the evening. But I got a surprise text yesterday morning from the Pawikan Center saying that sea turtles had just hatched the night before and were ready for adoption. Since it's difficult to time a visit when there are hatchlings, I decided to rush there no questions asked.

We passed by the newly-opened SCTEx on the way to Subic. It's undoubtedly the most scenic highway in the country. After lunch at Meat Plus Cafe in Subic, we drove down to the Pawikan Center in Morong which was about an hour away.

When we got there, were met by Ate Nida who showed us around. The unhatched eggs were buried under the sand in an enclosed area. As soon as the pawikan deposit their eggs on the beach, volunteers collect them and transfer and rebury them in a secure area in the center for incubation.

They brought out the container with the little pawikan ready for release to the sea. And I got to pet some of them while waiting for the afternoon sun to cool down before releasing them. The best time to release the hatchlings are early in the morning or late in the afternoon so as not to stress them out too much with the heat. The adoption cost is PHP200 per turtle and you get a t-shirt as proof that you've adopted.

Anyway, we almost didn't make it back to the SCTEx in time. Since it's on trial stage, they close it at 5:30 p.m. But it's a good thing they still let us in since the sunset amidst the mountains was just surreal.

I tried to catch the Baliwag procession but got stuck in Pulilan and decided to turn back. So I guess I'll have to wait again for next year since I'll be in San Fernando this Good Friday.

Pawikan Conservation Center
+63 928 7185721 (Ate Nida)
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