Vice President, the Philippines
My love affair with the sea started since childhood.
Early memories include the family’s almost weekly visits to my father’s coastal hometown in Cebu. My father gave us our first swimming lessons, at an early age. The beach was the favorite venue to celebrate milestones, birthdays and reunions, a ritual that still persists to this day. It is no coincidence that the love for the sea has become intergenerational and has extended to our kids as well who have taken up diving and underwater photography and one is a marine biologist.
While the Philippines is considered the “center of the center of marine foreshore biodiversity” and one of the major fish producers of the world, not everyone has the opportunity to marvel at the beautiful underwater world and appreciate the services it gives us. As a result, these gifts and amenities are largely taken for granted.
Previously I worked with Philippine Earth Justice Center. The environmental cases we filed in the past years – the offshore drilling in Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, the dumping of coal ash, the destructive reclamation project – involved projects with deleterious impacts on fisheries and marine ecosystems. There is an urgent need to inform citizens and public officials alike about the real state of our seas and ecosystems and the severe pressures that we have placed on them and act to be part of the solution. Time is of the essence.
The entrance of Oceana in the Philippines is thus much welcome. Its experience and the time-tested formula to push for conservation and protection in various parts of the globe to attain sustainable fisheries management will certainly strengthen ongoing efforts for reforms.