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Congratulations to Benj and Vangie!

You know, it’s been a WHILE since I got comments that could serve as actual blog posts. You know, I wish I could have given away more tickets — I really wish I could! But the reality of the situation is that I only have two. And these two go to Benj and Vangie.

I chose Vangie (Banggigay) because of her apparent (and overflowing) passion for the ocean, coupled with her advocacy to hasten the adoption of solar energy in the Philippines. I chose Benj because when I first met him, he didn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would care, until we got to hang out a bit more and on one weekend, actually got to dive. Both of them are also in positions of influence (not that the others aren’t) which means that, metaphysically, “the good tends to spread” so I hope the good spreads faster with the two of them attending the talk.

This is not to say that I paid no heed to the comments of the rest — everyone did a good job, especially alongside the exchange of whether we should really “open” our marine treasures to more tourism. I wish I had more tickets to give out! 🙂

I’d like to quote from the comments:

Man has only been around for quite a short amount of time – if the entire history of the earth were to be scrunched into 24 hours, man wouldn’t appear until the last second before the clock strikes midnight. Yet as it stands, it seems like the brief stretch of time that man has threatens the very existence and future of many organisms that came way before man. It’s a sad reality.

It is only through looking this humble perspective and this lens does one understand how minuscule he or she is as far as the world is concerned and how important it is to not harm anything in the eighty or so years that he’ll spend as a living organism on the planet. We are but a drop in the bucket – in an existential sense, it may sound very drab and somewhat depressing but that’s what it is and we have to take it for what it is. It’s calming to be part of a collective and to consider yourself as something that is one with nature and one with the only certain truth – the earth allowed millions of years of processes and evolution and for some reason, fate has allowed you to be you – at this time and at this moment.
Once you think about it that way, everything seems to feel a lot different. (from Benj)

Call me pessimistic, but part of me is glad that not many people know about the Philippines being in the center of this biodiversity.

Jayvee, I’ve spent months admiring your photographs and personal documentaries of these spectacular reefs. Sure, it would be wonderful if we market the Tubbataha, Apo Reef, and San Agapito Reef, but doesn’t it make you shudder to think about what would become of these spots when mainstream tourism hits in? (from Kate)

One of the more effective conservation projects done, although, this was outside the Philippines used the community approach. Before one educates one must first understand the community its culture and its society. The community was encouraged to re-seed giant clams and protect each area. The people believed and associated the reef as the home of their ancestors an spirit and guarding it was part of their duty.

Its more effective to convert and educate at the same time. (from Juned)

I think I understand what you’re trying to say–the Philippines’ beautiful diving sites are a bit underrated, considering that it’s relatively better (if not the best) compared to other diving locations. It is a bit frustrating too that we Filipinos don’t know this fact for ourselves. Even I have to admit that I wouldn’t have known that our country has the cooler “diving features” than other spots out there until I’ve stumbled upon your blog. (from Joben)

I believe there is nothing wrong in Philippines’ attempt to showcase its world-class dive sites to entice tourists – both local and foreign. Its marketing shots, albeit mediocre relative to its fellow Coral Triangle members, have specific, defined and viable potential. However, the absence of sustainable ecotourism program poses danger, or at worst destruction, to fragile natural marine ecosystem.
The real challenge is the formulation of specific programs and the effective methodology to ensure long term viability or sustainability of ecotourism. Marketing development and Return of Investment of Ecotourism should be put under microscopic lens to fully identify its enveloping intricate feasibility and responsibility.
Excessive and rapid development of coastal tourism (as the case of Puerto Galera, Boracay, etc) without consideration for sustainable ecotourism is approaching its breaking point that would lead to its serious decline of its surrounding water quality or may lead to further ecological problems like beach erosion retreat, runoff water to seas that affects balance of marine ecosystem and extending polluted sea area.
Ecotourism can be an important growth point of national economy (like that of Maldives, Phuket etc.) BUT we need a solid program that carries out effective sustainable ecotourism. We should have established guidelines to reduce ecotourism’s environmental impacts (if not totally eliminate) using measurable parameters. We need to take series of measures to promote ecotourism whilst effectively protecting marine ecosystem. This should not exclude grassroot level approach in educating about the sustainable strategies to those living along the coastlines, who are the actual stakeholders in the equation. It is through vigorous training and education of these stakeholders, real and absolute results can be achieved. (from Vangie)

I have to admit that I was pretty cynical about your endeavors, I mean with limited time, I have more important things to do (read: work, bills, relationships, etc) and being aware of my surroundings is far from my mind, parang let DENR and Greenpeace take charge.

but then this blog came along and i realized that at twenty five years old, I am missing a lot of important things, diving under the sea including. thanks to you guys, i became curious and started to read stuff about diving and taking it the extra mile like making use of decommissioned cars as substitute corals and yeah meron palang under the sea basura scavengers (akalain mo) but i wont be doing that yet, certainly not alone and not to soon. but for the meantime i will lessen my yosi intake from four sticks to five, that way i lessen my carbon footprint and that means, less chances of coral bleaching and more happy Nemos and Dyesebel out there. (from Marvin)

Hi Jayvee. I really admire people who dive and not just dive BUT do their share in protecting out marine environment. I tried diving once but my fear of deep see water & other sea creatures (maybe due to trauma when I was bitten by a jellyfish when I was a kid!) kept me from doing it again. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that people like me cannot do something for our environment, right? And thanks to people like you – we need to EDUCATE more and more people how to protect our environment. I am looking forward to see more education campaigns on this.

One of the things on my to-do-list-before-I-die is to do something meaningful for the environment (aside from being a mother to my 2 kids)… something for the future generations…something for our country…in my own little ways. I don’t know if that will happen but ever since I fell in love with our very own Philippine handmade papers, I began to see the path to my dream. I hope through my work, I am doing something for the environment and our country. It is my dream to be in this event but I have 2 kids to send to school next month so the budget for the ticket went to tuition fees & books Nevertheless, I am happy that more and more people are going GREEN! More power to your blog…(i’m an avid reader ) Sorry for the long post…na-carried away lang po. (from Airees)

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

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