Growing up in the beautiful islands of the Philippines, I have always felt a strong sense of connection and belonging to the ocean. I’d lose track of time and be mesmerised by the dance of light and shadow on the ocean floor. I was fascinated by marine life, corals and sponges in shades of colour that words fail to aptly describe. Riding waves and being immersed in the warmth of the ocean, it felt more than just my playground, it felt like I was truly “home”.
My love for the ocean only strengthened as I grew older. With a growing consciousness of how marine ecosystems were increasingly being impacted by unsustainable fishing practices and climate damage, I started volunteering in and eventually working for various institutions (University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute; Aurora Marine Research and Development Institute) and organisations (Ocean-Action Resource Center Inc. etc) in the Philippines that partnered with grassroots communities to establish community-based Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), advocated for climate justice and spearheaded marine conservation and education campaigns.
More recently, as a Communications and Mobilisation fellow in the Australian Conservation Foundation, I’ve been involved with volunteer training and support, and diversity and inclusion initiatives to connect with and engage student organisations, faith leaders and multicultural communities outside ACF’s traditional support base.
I am also currently organising a Vic Uni student-led environmental group with other leaders from my community development class. We envision that through the celebration and strategic use of our diverse culture – music, visual art, poetry and theater as multiple methods to tell stories (a.k.a. creative community organising), we learn how to imagine ourselves as communities empowered to create change, and in the process forge genuine solidarity and community amongst our diverse communities in the Inner West Melbourne area.