In Davao City, SEAperheroes in Action to Protect the Ocean
Kenneth Mheil Mangaya- Ay | June 06, 2020
Our oceans are in serious trouble right now – climate change is taking its toll, and marine pollution is reaching unprecedented levels. Sea levels are rising, oceans are increasing in acidity – putting people and wildlife at serious risk of illness and even deaths. Urgent action is needed and it starts with us.
Amiel Lopez, a fresh graduate from the Ateneo de Davao University, made a remarkable act to help protect the environment by creating Project Dyesable. The word Dyes or ten is the amount that will be given to the Badjao kids per kilogram of trash that they catch and collect as they dive to save the environment. This served as the first phase of the project.
Because of human behavior towards plastic pollution, Amiel and his team formulated the second phase of the project, Dyesable, a metaphor of a Badjao mermaid that became human to advocate and communicate the state of our ocean to the people. “We intensified our educational campaign to both kids (storytelling, interactive activities) and adults (fora) to coastal communities, experimenting initiatives (livelihood, arts, research), that highlights the responsibility of the people to marine conservation,” shared Amiel.
To make a positive response to the systematic challenges, Amiel’s team acknowledges community members’ participation especially the youth and indigenous people. “We call them SEAperheroes as they are leaders in championing environmental conservation. Here, we highlight our 5 key themes (but not limited to): Education, Livelihood, Scientific Research, and Innovation, Formative Sessions and Workshops, and Arts participated and led by, for, and with the youth and indigenous people in Davao City,” said Amiel. The project prioritizes championing youth and IPs to lead environmental conservation initiatives.
One of their creative programs is the storytelling of mermaid tales. “Kids portrayed to be mermaids or introducing endangered species where we allow the kids to immerse in the life of the animals to stir curiosity and empathy to love and care for them. We end it with a concrete activity such as coastal clean-up or draw their favorite animal character they want to conserve, to help us evaluate how effective the strategy was,” said Amiel.
Meanwhile, Amiel encourages fellow youth to take part in their advocacy, “I would say that it’s now or never. We are the ones who’ll inherit this Earth. It’s not an excuse to say that we are just young. We are young because we are never too young to lead. Every effort made by the youth will have an impact on an individual scale to a collective one. Open your eyes, open your heart, there are a lot of things for you to discover and respond to – especially that we are now on a global health crisis and also a climate crisis,” he shared.
Finally, he dreams that more youth and IP communities will be involved in Project Dyesable. “For the Philippines, mahal kita kahit masakit na at alam kong ikaw rin sa akin, sa amin. May we dream big for this country and that as Filipino Youth, we translate our dreams into collective actions.” For details on how you can help, visit the Facebook page of Project Dyesable.