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#SeatizenSunday: Clyde Blanco, Save Philippine Seas

Clyde S. Blanco is our Education Officer and Mother Beach. He is also an alumnus of the 2015 Visayas SEA Camp held in Negros Oriental.

Similar to Bryan, the SEA Camp Project Manager, Clyde majored in BS Biology with the goal to become a medical doctor. “But that dream changed when I did a field work for my Ecology subject. I could no longer imagine myself having sleepless nights in a hospital,” he shares. “Every time I’m in the field, especially in the reefs, I always feel a sense of excitement.”

As SPS's Education Officer, he gets to share that sense of excitement to the youth and teachers in Malapascua Island.

Tell us about what led you to do your work.

After graduation, I worked as a Biology teacher in a university for two years. I love doing lectures, discussions and laboratory works. It was always fulfilling to share new knowledge to my students. But I felt that I lacked experience and the things I’d been teaching was only limited to what I learned from college. I decided to quit and volunteered in Large Marine Vertebrate Research Institute Philippines as a whale shark and turtle researcher.

The story behind how I got this job was not the typical job interview. After the SEA Camp, I volunteered for several SPS projects: the 2016 Shark Summit, Dream Festival, and 2017 Thresher Camp. After the Thresher Camp, Anna (SPS’s Chief Mermaid) nominated me to speak at a panel she was moderating in Bangkok. I gave a talk about using creative methods to teach biology and conservation to children and youth. After the conference, we had free time and were looking at luggage on sale when she suddenly asked if I’d be interested to work in Malapascua. I did not hesitate and said yes without even knowing the full details of the job. Now, I am pursuing a career in research and conservation and will start my masters this September on Marine Biology.

Tell us about your current work

As the Education Officer, I organize projects on educating the locals about marine biology, ecology, and conservation. My first project was to teach the students in Malapascua about the reef-friendly ways of snorkeling and create identification guides on common marine species around the island.

The second project was the Earthducation Teachers’ Training for Malapascua-based teachers. Earthducation builds the capacity of teachers to teach environmental education and conservation through fun and creative teaching methods.

Working with SPS means there’s no strict 8-5 working schedule. You work in your own time, as longs as you manage to give all the deliverables before the deadline. Sometimes I wake up early to prepare for the upcoming activity. Sometimes I work at night because it’s the time when I am very productive. People always think that I am always in the sea swimming, most of the time, I’m organizing, planning, and coming up with materials for the project.

What’s the best and worst parts about your job?

The best part of being an education officer is I get to meet and work with young Filipinos who are eager to learn about our marine resources. I get to influence them at an early age about how important our marine ecosystems are to our lives.

Organizing and planning before project implementation is not the best part. I learn to be patient and flexible when there are sudden changes in the program or logistics a week before project implementation.

What can people do to help your cause?

The best way to help is to start acting through changing your lifestyle and not only like and share contents online about environmental conservation.

What three pointers would you provide for people who'd like to start seriously pursuing an environmental lifestyle?

First, believe that [humans] are not a superior species, but part of an interconnected web of life where no species is more important than the other.

Second, it is our responsibility to correct what our ancestors had done wrong to this planet. Be informed and do you part as a seatizen of this planet.

Third, the environmental lifestyle is not a trend. The choices you make is your environmental tax for living on this planet and breathing her air for free.

Fun fact about the environment or a species that you think people should know.

If you think that only birds are capable of hunting down fishes and not the other way around, then you’re wrong: giant trevallies off the coast of Seychelles were documented leaping out of the water to catch some tern chicks practicing flight just above the water.

What is your why - why you do what you do?

I grew up seeing environmental issues in many documentaries. I can’t just sit down, do nothing, and be part of the useless population. We are the species that is slowly destroying this planet, but we are also capable of rehabilitating it.

What are your eco-friendly finds that you always have with you?

I have an arsenal of weapons against environmental degradation: washable cutleries, water tumbler, steel straws, and reusable bags.

What do you do to unwind?

Just a day on the beach listening to the sound of the waves reminds me of how lucky I am that I am living on this planet.

Who / what inspires you?

I am inspired by people who are making a difference in their respective fields and advocacies without even thinking of the reward that they will get after.

What are three of the most personally moving moments you’ve had in your time with SPS?

  1. listening to how the Malapascua students were influenced and inspired to pursue conservation work in their island

  2. when I have the opportunity to speak in front of a big crowd and influence them to change their lifestyle for the benefit of the planet

  3. seeing the youth of Malapascua increase their knowledge on the marine resources around the island and having fun while learning

Where do you see SPS in five years?

SPS will expand its reach and more projects will be done in areas, hopefully in Mindanao.

What for you is SPS's greatest accomplishment?

Making a new breed of proactive leaders in environmental conservation through its various programs, such as the SEA Camp.

How do you feel about the gains of marine conservation in the Philippines? What has the marine conservation community been successful at addressing and what do you have to continue working on?

Filipinos now have more access to information on marine conservation, thus increasing awareness in the country. However, it should not only end by liking or sharing in social media platforms but also translate to action. There is also a need to engage our lawmakers because they can play a major role in keeping or elevating the status quo of marine conservation in the country.

Follow Clyde on Instagram @itstheclyde.

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