Know why “It’s No Fun in Pag-asa” Island
Pag-asaIsland which is located 280 miles Northwest of Puerto Princesa is the second largest island of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) internationally known as the Spratly islands. Pag-asaIsland serves as the seat of government of the Kalayaan Island Group. Aside from having a few inhabitants -there are only 222 Filipinos in the island, there are not much facilities and structures in the island. The only structures one can find there are a few buildings, a school, a health center, a police and military detachments and a dilapidated air strip.
To help motivate and stimulate the minds and nationalistic fervor of the people in the island, tourist guide and cultural activist Carlos Celdran, created the Facebook page, It’s no fun in Pag-asa on Sunday, 20 April.
Celdran told Inquirer.net that ‘These people on the island are hungry for mental stimulation. The idea was that of American film makers Ethan Page and Eric Flannagan as well as mine and we got Mayor [Eugenio] Bito-onon of PagasaIsland’s support for our endeavors’, Celdran said.
He explained that the goal of creating the Facebook page is to educate Filipinos about issues of patrimony and sovereignty over the share of Filipinos on the Spratlys. Celdran sees a non violent but more active strategy to keep all the Philippines islands within our sovereignty, he said, ‘We also hope to show how we as citizens can get involved in strengthening these claims. We can keep these islands as Filipino through sustainable technology and creativity. It won’t take military action.’
In the Facebook Page, It’s No Fun in Pag-asa. Celdran posted a video with the title, More Drunken Thoughts about the Spratlys Islands by Carlos Celdran. He appears to be slightly drunk while talking about the Spratlys and what China, Malaysia and Vietnam are doing in their respective islands.
The different islands comprising the SpratlyIslands are claimed as a whole or in part by the four countries and the Philippines. The Philippines occupies 10 reefs and islands. China occupies 7 reefs. Vietnam occupies 21 islets and reefs. Malaysia claims 7 reefs including Layang Layang where they built a naval base.
Celdran talking about how some of the claimansts are doing non violent activities to strengthen their claims in the different island said that ‘What Vietnam did is that they built a resort and a military facility on their island and they built something where they can go and have a buffet. And having facilities serving pina colada is how Vietnam is keeping their island occupied.’ While Malaysia are doing a similar thing and ‘They put up a resort. They’re also serving pina coladas and swimming. So it is actually two islands by two different countries both serving piña colada and diving as we speak’. ‘China, the biggest bully of them all’, he added, ‘built a city hall, a huge building and there were 1,000 people.’
Aside from the Spratleys, China also has raised claims to the Ayungin Shoal. In response, President Aquino deployed 10 marines to guard the island who were to be stationed aboard the dilapidated BRP Sierra Madre.
Mike Peletora a Marine 1st Lieutenant stationed at the Ayungin Shoal has reported that from December 20 13 to March 2014 Chinese coast guards have bullied and chased away Filipino and Vietnamese shipping boats from the disputed areas at least 8 times.
In Celdran’s video, he expressed his opinions and feelings about the conditions and situations of the 10 marines assigned to protect the island. He said: ‘They’re all bored out of minds…They run out of Biogesic…”They even have barely decent drinking water and can you imagine how hot it is on that island? So these people who are protecting us from being invaded by larger more bullying country right above us. We have to keep them healthy and happy and sustained.’
Celdran expressed his unequivocal support and clarified that his action is not in any way against President Aquino’s stand against China and urges the Filipinos to do their part as citizens while the government also does its part to assist in keeping the 7,107 Philippine islands intact.
In cooperation with Mayor Bito-onon, Celdran and his group intend to put up water filtration facilities, health facilities, donate books, and improve food security. They are also coordinating to work with a registered NGO to assist them in documenting donations and getting the necessary technologies to the island.