The passion of a 36-year-old former resort cashier has led to the birth of a 1.3 hectare Giant Clam Village in the waters off Lakawon Island in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
Hereliza “Yhen-yen” Osorio, worked as a cashier at the Lakawon Island Resort, and in her spare time saved endangered giant clams from harm.
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit she lost her job and has to return to her home in Sara, Iloilo.
But she did not want to leave without turning over the care of the giant clams she had saved and nurtured to someone so she sought the help of the Cadiz City government.
City Agriculturist Enrique Escares III said he saw the good she had done and her passion for saving the endangered giant clams even without pay, and informed Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante about her.
Escalante, who immediately hired her, said the city government needs people like Osorio who have the passion for saving the environment.
She is a gift from heaven, whom the city needed, the mayor said.
The Cadiz City government has an ordinance that declared the Giant Clam Village a protected area, and they hope to further expand it, Escalante said. But the mayor also hopes that Congress also passes a law declaring it a marine reserve.
They aim to make the village a controlled eco-tourism destination, and a place for creating awareness on the need to save the environment, Escalante said.
The Cadiz City government has a boat with a glass bottom that one can ride on to see the inhabitants of the Giant Clam Village beneath the crystal green waters.
Osorio first saved three giant clams and they grew to 200 in more than two years, but with the help of the city government and additional staff they have greatly increased.
The village now has 2,050 giant clams, and the count does not include the babies, Osorio said.
Among the species that inhabit the village are the Tridacna Squamosa commonly known as the fluted giant clam and scaly clam, Tridacna crosea or a saffron-colored clam, Hippopus hippopus also known as the horse hoof clam, and Tridacna Maxima or the small giant clam, she said.
The inhabitants of the Giant Clam Village in Cadiz City*Hereliza Osorio photos
They are beautiful, they come in the colors of blue, green and orange, she said.
The village ensures the protection and rehabilitation of the giant clams, Agriculturist 1 Ressa Deldo-Tabigo-on said.
There also other sea creatures at the village, including the clownfish who have become Osorio’s friends and whom she knows by name.
Among Osorio’s names for the clownfish are Angelina, Bella, Sparkle, Princess, Stormie and many more.
Every morning when she visits village they come out to greet her and she says “good morning everybody”.
The clams and creatures at the village are her “babies” she said.
It is a different feeling when you work and at the same time enjoy and love it, Osorio said.*