LOCATION AND CLIMATE
The HQ of Marine Conservation Philippines is located in Zamboanguita in the province of Negros Oriental. It is a municipality of some 30.000 inhabitants. On the outskirts of the municipality you’ll find our base inside Siit Arboretum, a beautiful botanical garden with samples of both endemic and international flora, some three hundred meters from the water, as the bird flies. If you cannot place Negros Oriental on a map, this movie may help.
Zamboanguita is situated below Mount Talinis, amidsts rice paddies, egrets and buffaloes. Although there are some dive resorts in Zamboanguita, it is still relatively unexplored by tourists, and offers an authentic Filipino experience for tourists who venture further south than Dauin, the much better known neighbouring municipality reknowned for its incredible diving. The better known dive destinations like Apo Island, Siquijor, Bohol and Cebu are still within easy travel distance by bus and/or boat.
Things to do and see nearby
Things to do and see nearby
Dumaguete City, the city of gentle people. Shop in the malls, catch a movie, go out or use the port to visit nearby islands.
Apo Island a short boat ride from MCP has one of the oldest marine sanctuaries in the world, and the reefs are breathtaking.
Visit Siquijor Island, beautiful and home of mystique and witchcraft with the whitest sand beaches you can imagine.
See ideas for your Sunday off. Mountain lakes, beaches, hiking, shopping and local markets, waterfalls, hot springs etc.
Zamboaguita is located exactly on the border of two climate types and therefore has a little of both.
The climate is governed by two main seasons or winds, called the Amihan and Habagat. The Amihan wind (from the North) lasts from October to the end of March, while the Habagat (from the South) rules the other half of the year. Although not as clearly pronounced as in other tropical countries, the main rainy season starts in mid-June with the most intense part lasting only a few weeks. The hottest month is just before that in May. In the rainy season it doesn’t rain constantly though, so although it influences things a little, we can continue our diving and normal conservation work. In December there is a small rainy season, but this just brings a few scattered showers really, and makes the climate quite pleasant, with cooler temperatures. The driest time is in April, when the hillsides and the botanical garden we live in clearly dries up. Air temperatures year round vary between 25°C and 35°C. Sea temperature goes from 26 in February when it’s coldest to around 30 in June, July and August. Most volunteers find scuba diving in a short wetsuit fine year round.
Since the Philippines consists of islands only, the wind plays an important part in our climate. In foreign media, the country is well known for its typhoons (or hurricanes in american English). This is perhaps partly undeserved, as typhoons are fairly localised and many areas of the Philippines, such as the lower Visayas are hardly ever affected. Negros Oriental where we are based is well outside the typical Typhoon belt and rarely gets hit by typhoons. Even the ones that do hit (the last one that did any damage was in 2011) only cause damage to the reefs and beach front properties. The season when we might potentially have typhoons is in December/January. But the only influence we usually have is a wet stormy day not much worse than the ones that frequently occur in Europe and the U.K. and an occasional cancelled flight due to problems elsewhere.
The name Zamboanguita is a derivative of Zamboanga, (meaning small Zamboanga) and stems from Zamboanga on Mindanao to the south. This sometimes causes some anxiety with tourists, as the names are easily confused and Zamboanga is definitely on the no-go list of most international tourists, as there have been a number of incidents and kidnapping by the group Moro Islamic Liberation Front who for decades have clashed with the Filipino security forces. It’s important to understand that the two places are no more related than say New York and York in England, or other such geographical name-borrowing. Zamboanguita is calm, tranquil and perfectly safe. If you’re concerned about base safety please read this.
A much more colourful story goes that Zamboanguita instead got its name from an episode involving an octopus (locally called coguita). Long before the Spaniards set foot on Negros, fishermen from afar would enjoy the bounty of the rich fishing grounds of the area. One day, a group of Moro fishermen fishing in the area found a coguita caught in their fishing net, which they then separated from their fish catch. The leader of the Moro group then asked one of his men to go to the beach, find a tree and “isab-ong ang coguita” (hang the octopus).” Since then, every time an octopus was caught, it was hung on that particular tree to dry. The locals eventually begun calling the place “Sab-ongan ug coguita.” When the Spaniards eventually arrived, they called the town “Zamboangaguita” and later on it was shortened to “Zamboanguita”