180 meter long Sand Art depicting the core message of Human Nature's Save Our Seas Festival or SOS Coastival.
Meant to be a Green alternative to Labor Day Weekend, the event was host to people from all walks of life who share a common love for the environment and a genuine concern with preserving The Philippines coastlines and oceans.
SOS Coastival kicked off Ocean Month, in hopes of becoming an annual event that draws awareness to the state of The Philippines Coastal Environments.
(From left, event host Ingrid Nieto of Mellow 94.7 FM, Maye Padilla of World Wide Fund for Nature, Tina Antonio of La Union Soul, Anna Meloto-Wilk of Human Nature, and Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas.)
"The Champions of the Seas" Taking a moment to pose, the heroes who made SOS a reality all share a passion and appreciation for the life and future of our fragile ecosystems.
For more information, visit http://urbizgarden.com/
During holidays or big events, it's all too common for beaches to be totally covered in trash afterward. A "clean as you go" policy was very important for organizers and every hour on the hour we were encouraged to do our small part and pick up a piece of litter.
The afternoon talks were an insightful and educational glimpse into the advocacy of the festival.
"It's not just about saving the environment it's about saving ourselves, if we don't save the environment, in the end–we are the species that will be most affected. So we need to be conscious of our role in the entire ecosystem."
Anna Meloto-Wilk, President, and Co-founder of Human Nature is passionate about the effects we have on the environment. Her company uses all natural, environmentally friendly materials in their products. She explains the concepts behind the 1st SOS Coastival.
Save our Seas, Save our Species, Save our Skin.
The oceans of the Philippines are home to a rich biodiversity of exotic marine life, some endemic to the specific regions of the Archipelago. She stressed the importance of bringing attention to the ecosystems that are being impacted by pollution and human developments. And how important those systems are for human survival.
For more info about Human Nature and their eco-friendly products, please visit http://humanheartnature.com/.
"We're an Archipelago, the Philippines has 7,107 islands and we haven't made marine conservation a priority–when it should be. Because we are completely surrounded by water. And because we've been so blessed, we've also been the most abusive of our seas, and we take it for granted."
Anna Oposa, Executive Director and Co-founder and "Chief Mermaid" of Save Philippine Seas, an NGO working on environmental education and community-based operations.
Their projects include the Sea and Earth Advocates Camp; which empowers young Filipinos 18 - 23 helping them to understand the importance of marine conservation. They have also recently set up a Shark and Rey sanctuary in Cebu which is the first in the Phillippines having been established last year.
For more information about Save Philippines Seas, please visit http://savephilippineseas.com/.
"... These Changes have surprised us. And right now while the reefs are alive we want to bring everyone in, crowdsource, everyone to help this place because it's one of the last living reefs in La Union and its dying."
Tina Antonio, Partner of La Union Soul Movement and owner of Urbiz Garden Bed and Breakfast. Gave a heartfelt speech about how she and other locals of the community have witnessed the steady decline of the environment in La Union. She recalled a time in her childhood when millions of crabs would migrate to a nearby lake to spawn but now are gone due to human interferences in the area. She remembered how sea
She remembered how sea urchins were once abundant but now are scarce due to overfishing and the pollution from a coastal cement manufacturing plant. She warns of the growing jellyfish populations, and how their natural predators (sea turtles), numbers are drastically in decline. She pleads for help as the last remaining reef in La Union is dying.
"Even if you're in the city it's still important to be mindful of the things that you do–because everything that we do has an impact on the environment. It's also very important to start practicing and living a sustainable lifestyle."
Maye Padilla of the World Wildlife Fund stresses the impact humans have on the environment and the animal species dependent on ecosystems that are being destroyed due to climate change and human interventions. She explains how saving our seas and saving our planet is ultimately saving ourselves.
For more information about World Wildlife Fund (WWF), please visit http://www.wwf.org.ph/.
"There are millions of solutions out there [to fixing the environment], if you see a piece of trash on the road, be a different person and pick it up. I'm not saying do conservation work or give up everything to save the planet, no, I'm just saying pick up your trash, learn to clean up after yourself. Put the trash in the proper place. It's as simple as that."
AG Saño began painting at a young age and later became a photographer for WWF, he's been studying the migration of Humpback whales in the Philippines for 16 years and is an advocate for the preservation and protection of marine mammals. AG works with NGOs involved with Marine conservation in the Philippines and uses community and public art projects to help draw awareness and educate communities most affected by the changes in the environment.
Surfer and Founder of Project CURMA, Toby Tamayo, is an Environmentalist who has set up a turtle sanctuary in La Union, he and his organization educate locals on the important role sea turtles play in the ecosystem. CURMA's efforts are paying off, here Toby introduces a former poacher of sea turtle eggs (pictured right) who has become a key player in helping to reduce the poaching of the endangered animals.
For more information about Project CURMA, please visit Curma's Facebook Page.
For more info about Bayani Brew, please visit http://bayanibrew.com/
SOS Coastival is a great labor day weekend alternative for those who are passionate about saving the environment. A great way to learn how your own actions are impacting the fragile ecosystems, and a perfect way to help spread the message of awareness and conservation.
Most important of all, it's a way to ensure a sustainable future for the Philippines most valuable resource – the children.
Congratulations to Human Nature, Save Philippine Seas, WWF, SIFCare, Project Curma, La Union Soul Movement, and all the others, for a successful, educational a fun Festival. Looking forward to Next Year!
Live an Awesome Life,
Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our Awesome Planet supports SOS Coastival and Human Nature environmental advocacy. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
SOS Coastival is an initiative of Human Nature together with our sea-loving partners:
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Philippines)
- Save Philippine Seas (SPS)
- Project Curma (Coastal Underwater Resource Management Actions)
- La Union Soul
- Urbiz Garden La Union
- The Circle Hostel
- Meg Magazine
- Choose Philippines
- San Juan Surf Resort
- Planet Zips
- Escola Brasileira de Capoeira Philippines
- Bayani Brew
- Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), Mellow Submarine and Paola Mauricio.