Kalayaan, which forms part of the Philippines’ last frontier, is the country’s largest municipality in terms of territorial jurisdiction (64,976 square miles). The Kalayaan Island Group is endowed with rich and diverse natural resources, most especially its marine ecosystem. Recent study shows that the waters around Pag-asa island remains a potential fishery ground, in terms of fishery resources, which is worthy of conservation in order to sustain the long term benefit that we are suppose to gain from it.
Given that natural resources can be exploited for economic purposes, it is necessary to properly manage the Municipality’s natural resources so that sustainable development can be achieved. This does not mean that these resources cannot be used. However it does require that the use of renewable resources be managed so that their use can be sustained and adverse environmental and social impacts can be avoided. Collective and timely effort is imperative to conserve the municipality’s major natural resources for the benefit of the existing and future community. The proper management of these resources will ensure that the community will continue to benefit from these resources.
Locational and Land Area
Located west of Palawan, the Municipality is situated in the West Philippine Sea, covering an approximate area of sixty four thousand nine hundred seventy six (64,976) square miles of water and total land area of two hundred ninety (290) square kilometers (based on DBM data). Based on NAMRIA report 2011 (Annex 1), there are total of ninety five (95) islands, cays, shoals and reefs within the area covered by PD 1596, seventy one (71) land formations fall within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. Of the seventy one (71), twenty four (24) are occupied by various nations, five (5) (rural areas of Kalayaan) are effectively occupied by the Philippines (Rizal reef, Ayungin reef, Patag Island, Lawak Island and Likas island).
Twenty four (24) land formations are beyond the EEZ, seventeen (17) of this are occupied and the rest unoccupied. Of the twenty four(24), four (4) are effectively being occupied by the Municipality of Kalayaan including its capital, Pag-asa Island, where the seat of government lies.
The municipality is comprised of only one (1) Barangay, with combined land area of 83.69 hectares (based on LGU data).
The Municipality of Kalayaan according to latest national census by NSO (2010) is placed at two hundred twenty two (222). This represents an increase of fifty one percent (51%) over the 2007 census figure. The lone municipality beyond the EEZ of the Philippines accounts for point zero three (0.03) percent of the provincial population.
The population of Kalayaan has shown variation in its growth rate. On 2007, the population decline at fifty one percent (51%) compared to 2000. However, on the latest census, the data provides an increase of fifty one percent (51%), almost identical to its previous census decrease.
Social Services and Welfare
The status of welfare of the Municipality’s population can be observed from selected development indicators in the health and nutrition, education, housing and similar subsectors. Status of welfare may also be deduced from the reciprocal development indicators which reflect levels of deprivation, lack of access to various social services, and of poverty in general.
Literacy Level – The simple literacy rate, which indicates the proportion of the total population that is able to read, write and do simple arithmetic calculations, gives a quick impression of the educational or literacy level. The literacy rate for the whole municipality is 95%. On basic education, there is no secondary level education in the municipality. Elementary school, which opened June of 2012, enrolled all daycare and kindergarten children in Pag-asa Island.
Child Nutrition – The general state of health or “unhealthy” of the population is determined by the population of malnourished or underweight children below the age of six (6) years. The critical importance of this age group is that undernourished children of this age acquire a handicap they may not be able to overcome for the rest of their lives. In the Municipality, there are no data indicating incidence of malnutrition of children 6 years and below. This may be due to the fact that they are provided with supplemental feeding, vitamin supplementation, milk supplement and food subsidy by the municipality.
Access to Health Care – incidence of illness and death due to illness is another measure of the degree of “unhealthy” of the population. Among other things, this implies access to appropriate and adequate health care facilities.
The Local Economy
The Municipal Government maintains a vegetable demo-garden in Pag-asa which provides minimal vegetable requirements for the community. Squash, radish, string bean, eggplant, and green pepper are some of the vegetables that grow in the island. Difficulty are met in planting agricultural crops due to the sandy characteristics of soil in Pag-asa, planting soil are transported from mainland Palawan to provide conducive environment for agricultural products.
The total area planted to crops covered 4,246.144 square meters. Majority of the area are planted with vegetables which forms the demo-garden project of the locality. There is no rice or grain production in the island; the community relies mostly on the rice and basic commodity subsidy provided by the local government.
Swine production stopped on 2010 due to high maintenance cost of its operation. The requirement for its production even exceeds the cost provided for human food subsidy.
The local government maintains a goat raising project in Pag-asa Island in which its primary goal is to support the nutritional requirements of its residents. As of latest survey, the LGU have fifty (50) heads of goat in the island.
Backyard growing of chicken is practiced in Pag-asa for domestic consumption. There is no available data on poultry population.
The agriculturist reported 14 motorized private bancas, 2 municipal owned utility motorized banca and 4 non-motor banca in Brgy. Pag-asa. The catch per unit effort (CPUE) of handline fishing in Pag-asa Island was estimated to be 4.2kg/person/hour (Gonzales et.al, 2008) compared to 1 kg/person/hour in Honda Bay (mainland Palawan). Recent survey provides fish production of 10 metric tons per year. The locals resort to drying most of their catch to lengthen its shelf life until transportation becomes available or use it for domestic consumption.
Commercial fishers from Luzon area (mostly from Batangas and Mindoro) are reported to engage in fishing activities in the municipal waters. Also, commercial fishers from neighboring countries are reportedly seen fishing in the area. No data on the volume of commercial fishing produce is available.
Food Self-Sufficiency Assessment
The Municipality of Kalayaan is not self-sufficient in rice because of the absence of farmland in the area. In fact, one hundred percent (100%) are imported from mainland Palawan. Same is true in egg production. Livestock and poultry program supports minimal requirement of the community. Other basic commodities are imported from mainland Palawan and subsidized by the local government.
Pag-asa Island, the urban area in the municipality, is covered by 44,170.175 square meters (12% of the total land area) of forest. However, no forest-based production activities are present in the area.
Agricultural Support Facilities
Fish handling facility includes three (3) units of multi-freezer storage system maintenance in Pag-asa wherein fishermen can store their catches to extend shelf life.
Transportation and Communications
Pag-asa island is accessible from mainland Palawan and Manila by military aircraft and private chartered planes. It will take one and a half to three hours travel from both destinations to reach Pag-asa. A joint use memorandum is still in effect wherein commercial and private planes can land to the area to promote economic and tourism endeavors.
Currently, the municipality has one service provider of telecommunications systems, Smart Communications which covers Pag-asa Island only. Other options are use of Single-side band radio and use of very high frequency (VHF) radio in the island.
No local radio stations can be accessed in the area. However, provincial and national, and foreign (Chinese and Vietnamese stations) can be dialed using standard radio equipment.
The Pangilinan Group of companies provided several units Cignal Television Sets in Barangay Pag-asa, a complete set of digital cable equipment which was distributed in majority of households in the community. Today, people can have access to their favorite Cable and TV shows both local and international.
Part time haircutters, manicurist, massage are providing personal services in the area.
These comprise one (1) Municipal Health Center capable to house five (5) patients at a time and a Transient House for guest of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Potential and preferred tourism activities in the area are eco-tourism where it can attract nature lovers, vacationers and researchers. The area also offers superb diving and fishing environment where tourist can enjoy SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fish feeding, skin diving, skin spear diving and game fishing.