It was a moving experience to hear them all in one blow—Climate Change Commission’s Yeb Saño, Conservation photographer Boogs Rosales, Neric Acosta, Erramon Aboitiz and famous environment lawyer Tony Oposa. You can guess what the topic was—environment, of course.
Like attending a beginner’s course in Environment 101, the group walked us through the state of the environment from 1989 compared to 2014 and came up with some easy to understand solutions: either have nine Earths, two Philippines or 30 Laguna lakes. All of the above cannot and will not be.
I was personally moved by 26-year old Boogs Rosales, a conservation photographer who actually just wanted to dive as a hobby. What he saw underwater were beautiful corals, marine life and everything that makes the Philippines the center of biodiversity. On another side of the lens though, he showed us a baby shark surrounded by at least 30 divers wanting to take a photograph of the fearful creature. This was in Oslob, Cebu. Juxtaposed was his photograph of him diving amongst at least 200 sharks. But this was in the Maldives, where sharks roam freely and where there are more sharks than photographers, unlike what he saw in Oslob.
It was also useful to know, many more people die from mosquito bites than from sharks. Or more people die from other causes than the popular belief that sharks are dangerous.
But Boogs did not just show us sharks. He showed us what he saw upon ascent to the surface of the water. Plastics! There is just so much plastic in our waters that we are in danger of actually consuming them because the plastics get into the systems of our fish in the food chain. Turtles are also endangered because they end up eating plastic waste like wrappers, packaging materials and what-have-you. And hear this: cigarette butts? They are also made of plastic granules. They get into the food chain and end up in our bodies! Oooh . . . not a very nice graphic thought.
I am not a diver and never will be, but Boogs’ photos were so moving that I think divers should do one good by helping us clean up our seas while they enjoy the beauty of what they see yonder. I know there are groups like Green Fins and other volunteer organizations that do such noble “clean up the sea” projects. If you are pescetarian, or a fish lover, do your bit to clean up the sea. For people like me who love fish but cannot dive, we have to start on terrestrial projects—stop using plastic or if we do, dispose of it properly and segregate, segregate, segregate. And stop smoking, too. Just think of the millions of cigarette butts getting into the food chain everyday!
I am also impressed that such a young person –all of 26 years old—can be so concerned about environment. And knowing that our fish resources are so depleted, it is worth heeding the call of Boogs, especially to be able to leave enough fish for the generations to come. I was told that our fish resources are just 10 percent of what it used to be—and this count was in 1996. Can you imagine what remains today? This is why we culture fish—salmon, bangus, tilapia—name it and it probably grows in some fish pen and not how God thought it to be as was served during biblical times.
It may sound cliché-ish, but we really need to reduce, reuse, recycle and as Tony Oposa says another “R” is remove. Remove waste from our systems. Plastics do contribute a lot to waste because it does not disintegrate into the ground like paper does. So it ends up in fish food and in silt that settles in the bottom of the sea and in the surface of the water.
To end his sharing, Boogs also showed us a beautiful photo of fish that were happily moving about in marine conservation areas. So there is hope if we allow our seas to heal. And this kid has a lot of hope that with what he shows us, we can leave enough fish for his generation and the generations to come. It is a call to us who have enjoyed the seas, enjoyed the fish for many years now, to help the younger ones who may never see fish again.
Conservation photography. Good way to remind us that we need to do our part to conserve our beautiful waters. And leave something for the children to enjoy and live on. Check out www.nudi.ph for more of Boogs’ photos. And like me, enjoy diving—albeit vicariously.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC Mall and Davao City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at email@example.com