Release of thousands of balloons, sky lanterns during Hundred Islands festival sparks outrage

ALAMINOS, Philippines - The release of more than 5,000 balloons and sky lanterns on the skies of Alaminos City in Pangasinan during an event organized by Triple 8 Tours was met with outrage. Netizens have accused the organizers of potentially harming the environment particularly marine life.

Release of thousands of balloons, sky lanterns during Hundred Islands festival sparks outrage
Photo Credit: Alaminos City Mayor Arthur F. Celeste
A video of the event dubbed as Spark Hundred Islands, “a celebration of lights and color for a cause” held last October 29, quickly circulated on social media and infuriated netizens. According to Save Philippine Seas, the balloons and the sky lanterns have potential negative impacts on marine life such as sea turtles, birds as well as other marine animals as they could easily mistaken them for food and eat them if they happen to land on the sea.

Balloons Hundreds Islands

“Balloons and sky lanterns could block their digestive tracts, which could be fatal,” Save Philippine Seas explained in their infographic.

Watch the video.

Event organizers release official statement

The Triple 8 Travel released an official statement after Save Philippine Seas contacted them.

Based on their statement, the event was approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). They added that they used hydrogen gas to inflate the balloons.

Hundred Islands festival official statement

Hundred Islands festival official statement

“All of the balloons sent out the sky were inflated by Hydrogen Gas that if released to the open air transforms into water vapor. These balloons also flew directed to the city were easier waste disposal can be achieved,” the event organizers said in their statement.

They also said that the sky lanterns used were non-toxic and 100% biodegradable and that the city government of Alaminos City has been sending “SCUBAsurero” to collect garbage under the sea.

Refuting Triple 8 Travel’s claims

Save the Philippine Seas also issued a response to the official statement of Triple 8 Travel.

The organization said that “choice of gas is not the issue but the rubber that will become debris”. They stressed that there is no guarantee that all the 5,000 balloons will end up in the city.

Refuting Triple 8 Travel’s claims

Refuting Triple 8 Travel’s claims

Refuting Triple 8 Travel’s claims

Moreover, the organization explained that although the materials of the lanterns are 100% biodegradable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will biodegrade.

“Biodegrading also takes months or years. In the meantime, the lanterns are trash and marine debris polluting the seas.”

Lastly, the organization reiterated that SCUBAsureros wouldn’t be necessary if the organizers didn’t release 5,000 balloons.

“Is there an assurance that the SCUBAsuereros will be able to recover all 5,000 balloons and sky lanterns?,” the organization questioned.

Lastly, the organization urged Triple 8 Travel organizers not to use balloons and sky lanterns in their upcoming events.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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