We lived in Mindanao for many years because my Dad was assigned there. During summers, my parents would take us to Manila and back — not by plane but by boat. At that time, boats were unlike the speedy ones that get you from Mindanao to Luzon in just a little over a day. Back then, it took days. So much so that before every trip, Mom would buy stacks of comics, puzzles and books and stash them away somewhere. And she’d take these out a little at a time over the duration of the boat trip so we wouldn’t get bored.
But we did not spend a lot of time on those. Instead, I remember that we enjoyed hanging out on the sides of the ship, watching island after island pass by. We’d call out in delight when we’d see swordfishes jump out of the water like flying spears. At certain ports in Mindanao, we’d look in awe as children with their parents would approach our ship in their tiny bancas, motioning to the ship passengers to drop coins off the sides so they could dive for them. I remember being amazed to see a mother with a tiny toddler on her back cling tightly to her neck as mother and child dove into the sea for a coin that hit the water near her.
Living in Davao City then, we always had the chance to go to beaches. And our own home (at least the last of many homes there because we transferred quite a number of times within the city) was beside the sea.
I think it’s no wonder then that I love traveling by boat and as my own kids were growing up and we’d travel to my inlaws’ province in the Visayas, many times I’d choose to travel by boat. We had traveled by sea so many times that I knew the layout of most of the Super Ferry and Negros Navigation ships plying the route, knew the best cabins in each ship, and what children’s entertainment centers could be found in each.
Very early on, one of my girls had dreams of becoming a marine biologist. When she finally entered college, that dream had changed and she ended up taking a graphic design course. But her love for sea creatures has remained. She specifically loves dolphins and is attracted to many things from the sea. And she’s not the only one.
My whole family loves the sea. I want my children and their children and the children of their children to experience the wonders not only above the waters but below them for years to come. While I have never gone diving, I have heard the stories from blogger friends who have and who say that the world below is beautiful beyond description. One friend said that the fishes he saw on his dives were exactly like the entire cast of Finding Nemo. If you’ve seen that animation movie, you can understand how beautiful it must be underwater.
The recent shocking discoveries of shipping containers full of contraband corals, shells, turtles and other marine life upset me so much. I cannot believe how we have allowed foreigners to destroy our coral reefs and continue the pillaging of our marine life. This has been going on for decades in exchange for some money (because that, sadly, was the motivation) and it is unimaginable how these all went on allegedly without the knowledge of local government units or national environmental agencies. It just boggles the mind that we have people supposedly tasked with jobs to oversee, monitor and protect our natural resources but now say they never knew these were going on.
What we do not realize is that short material gains are going to cause our own destruction as a people. Everything is connected in this world. The Circle of Life is such that we are co-dependent on each other. Upset that natural balance and many things will start to go wrong.
We have already seen this in the effects of climate change. Natural disasters have been a lot worse in recent times. Typhoons are frequently extremely violent, tornadoes have ripped apart many towns and cities in other countries, earthquakes have shaken and damaged many places. We know that these did not just happen. These are already the effects of man’s abuse of land, sea and air. There are purposes to the existence of coral reefs and marine life. If we destroy these, in the long run we are destroying ourselves because the backlash will be led by Mother Nature herself. To learn more about why coral reefs are not just homes for marine life but protection for man as well, read this article, “What are Coral Reefs”, by Noemi Dado on Blogwatch.tv.
I found this video done by YouTube user gerrymartens about how Apo Island (very close to where my family lives in Negros Oriental) was once on the brink of ecological disaster but, with better understanding about the co-dependency of man and nature, the Apo Islanders took steps to reverse the vicious cycle they themselves began. I am proud that many divers consider Apo Island one of the most beautiful dive areas in the Philippines.
Here’s another video by YouTube user Klemens Gann showing the beauty of coral reefs.
It is almost by design that today, June 8, is not just Blog Action Day to save the Philippine seas. It is also World Oceans Day. We need to continue showing our deep concern (and disgust) at continuing attempts to circumvent laws already in place to preserve our marine life.
There are many ways that citizens like us, whether we dive or not, can do our part. Blog Watch suggests several ways to do so beginning today, June 8, Blog Action Day:
1. Blog Action Day on June 8 for Philippine Corals and Waters!
- Tweet, Plurk, or post to spread the word about this event: Share or repost this announcement.
- Use the Twitter hashtag #reefwatchPH.
- Spread the savephilippineseas.com URL.
- Repost and share our official campaign badge (to be posted soon so please come back!).
- Most importantly, on June 8, join the Blog Action Day from your favorite social media channels (blog, Tumblr, Posterous, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, etc.)
2. Let us know of biologists, divers interested to start restoration projects
3. Send contact details of media contacts and NGOs who are willing to help us with #reefwatchPH.
4. Even before Blog Action day, you can blog about it, spread the news to your colleagues, write to your representatives, media. Awareness is good. But Awareness + Action is much better.
5. Discourage demand for exotic decorative species and coral-accented jewelry and fashion accessories.
6. We’re building #reefwatchPH ‘s directory of supporters, resource persons. Please sign up here.
7. Know more about saving our Philippine seas. Visit savephilippineseas.com