Oponganon to do 40Km Mactan swim, raise awareness on plastic pollution
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Open water swimmer Cleevan Kayne Alegres is on a mission to save the oceans from plastic pollution. That is why on April 24, he tries to become the first person to swim around Mactan Island.
The 25-year-old Oponganon felt the urgency to act and raise awareness about plastic pollution and the importance of recycling, so he will take on the daunting challenge to swim 20 hours non-stop, covering more than 40 kilometers around Mactan Island.
For the public’s eye, they only knew of Alegres’s swim as a highlight to commemorate Magellan’s circumnavigation and the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines.
However, there is more to it.
No less than the Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan extended his support to the young swimmer. He will provide escort and other forms of support to help Alegres accomplish his daunting mission.
Plastic waste compactor
But, Alegres has another important thing in mind. He proposes to encourage the Lapu-Lapu City LGU to purchase a plastic waste compactor for the city.
It is to recycle and repurpose plastic wastes to address the city’s plastic pollution, which continues to plague the island’s pristine beaches.
“Nagdako jud ko sa dagat. Among balay sa Maribago tupad ra JPark unya daplin ra pud sa dagat, so kamao jud ko molangoy. Kahibaw jud ko unsa ka grabe ang basura sa dagat. Sige ko ug apil ug coastal clean-up before pero para nako dili siya enough. Mag swim ko mohapit na lang jud ko ug pangolekta ug basura sa dagat para makalimpyo sad ko gamay,” Alegres told CDN Digital.
(I grew up in the sea. Our house in Maribago is just beside JPark and it is near the sea, so I know how to swim. I also know how serious the garbage thrown at sea. I have joined coastal cleanups before but for me, it is not enough. When I swim I take time to collect the garbage found at sea so that at least I can do my own little part in cleaning the sea.)
Alegres knows that there is no certainty for the Lapu-Lapu City government to purchase a plastic waste compactor unit because each unit is a bit expensive, but he remains very optimistic.
“Ang kuwang jud sa Lapu-Lapu City kay compactor. Tanan plastic waste ana pwede mahimong mga butang like chairs, tables, ug uban items nga magamit pa ug balik kaysa magsige ta ug labay og plastic sa landfill nga mapuno ra gihapon ug mabalik ra gihapon sa atong dagat,” said the Biology graduate of Cebu Doctors’ University.
(What the Lapu-Lapu City government lacks is a compactor. All the plastic waste can be made into things like chairs, tables and other items that can be reused instead of throwing the plastic waste everytime in our landfill which can be filled up and the waste will return to the sea.)
“Akong proposal sa atong mayor nga kung ma successful ko sa akong pag swim, maayo unta maka donate sila ug usa ka compactor para sa atong city, and we will start from there. Pinaka ultimate goal jud nako ani maayo unta kada barangay sa Lapu-Lapu naa unta compactor kay halos tanan barangays diri naa sa coastal area and grabe kaayo ang plastic pollution,” he said.
(My proposal to the mayor if I am successful with my swim is that he can donate a compactor for the city, and we will start from there. My ultimate goal is that all barangays in Lapu-Lapu can each have a compactor because most of our barangays are in the coastal areas and plastic pollution has become worse.)
To prove that he has what it takes to conquer Mactan’s waters known for its treacherous current, Alegres swam a total of 14-kilometers last Sunday, March 28, 2021, as part of his preparation.
Local paddleboarders aided him during his swim, which lasted six hours.
His swim last Sunday served as the longest distance he ever recorded.
Alegres, who is a veterinary intern at Southwestern University-Phinma, is not new to long-distance swims. In fact, he was the swimmer of the Tribu Lapu-Lapu triathlon team, which placed second in the men’s relay of the 2018 Ironman 70.3 Philippines held in Mactan. The following year, they topped the men’s relay in the Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao.
Alegres also addressed those who bashed him on social media, saying that he was not doing the swim to make a name for himself.
“Ako jud tumong ani kay ang pag raise og awareness about plastic pollution. Kani akong swim para ni sa tanan taga Mactan Island kay grabe akong hope nga maayo unta i consider ni Mayor nga magpalit ta og plastic waste compactor,” said Alegres.
(My purpose in this is to raise awareness about plastic pollution. My swim is for the all residents of Mactan Island because I have a strong hope that the mayor may consider buying a plastic waste compactor.)
He also said that he idolized American long-distance swimmer Dian Nyad and “Pinoy Aquaman” Ingemar Macarine.
“Daghan nag ingon nga dili daw nako makaya. Dili daw ko mag tuga-tuga pero ako naman na testing pag Sunday, doable ra jud siya pero it doesn’t mean nga sayon ra. Lisud jud kaayo siya pero akong kayanon kay gusto ko naa ko mabilin legacy as a swimmer nga naay good cause para sa atong environment,” he said.
(Many have told me that I can’t do it. That I should not waste my time to try, but I tried it on Sunday and it is doable but it also does not mean that it is easy to do. It is difficult to do but I can endure it because I want to leave a legacy as a swimmer that their is a good cause (to advocate) for the environment
His inspiration is his family and girlfriend, who continue to encourage him with his mission. His main focus now is his 20K swim across Hilutungan Strait in Mactan Island to Olango Island and vice versa on Easter Sunday (April 4, 2021).
He said that he had already done crossing from Mactan Island to Olango Island last December 6 but on Easter Sunday he would swim around Olango Island.
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