During the 2015 Visayas SEA Camp, Kenny was known for his unruly hair and excessive use of the Bisaya word “kanang” while explaining. No one could have predicted that he would win a grant to implement his proposed project, but against all odds, he received funding to bring his dream project to life. Using the initial funds provided by the SEA Camp, he turned a room in the barangay hall into a library called My Little Seahouse.
Two years later, he joined SPS first to work on the Thresher Camp, and then as the Project Manager of the Shark Shelter Project.
Tell us about what led you to do your work.
Based on my grade 1 homework, I wanted to become Mayor of Cebu City, but I ended up graduating with a BS in Civil Engineering. Then I worked as a licensed civil engineer and college instructor in a university in Cebu.
I became a part of SPS because of their program called the SEA Camp. During the Visayas SEA Camp in 2015, I learned a lot about environmental conservation. I won a grant to implement my proposed project to build a library for children in my barangay. I got officially employed by SPS for a summer job in Malapascua Island in 2017 to implement an environmental education program and convene different stakeholders for a technical working group discussion of the management plan in Daanbantayan where Malapascua Island is located. After the summer job contract, I was invited to work for the Shark Shelter Project of SPS and officially started in November.
Tell us about your current work.
My job is a project-based type work. We are allowed to do other things as long as it can help with our conservation efforts in the island without leaving behind our main objectives of the project. We have a very unpredictable schedule and daily activities, but we area closely coordinating with the local government, the elementary and high school, dive shop operators, fish wardens, and local community organization.
What’s the best and worst parts about your job?
Best part of my job is when I was able to convene our target participants or even coming up with the number of people joining in our initiated project on the island. It’s very challenging when you target specific people for your project because they have other matters to attend to or simply they’re not interested.
Worst part of my job is about coordinating with different agencies, stakeholders and the community because they have different interest in the conservation efforts and as a representative from NGO, I have to be careful on how I will interact, approach and communicate with them regarding with our objectives and our goal.
What can people do to help your cause?
The best way people can help me with my cause is lessening their consumerist mentality. I started mine with being conscious with my personal care, like buying bigger bottles and choosing alternative products that supports local enterprise.
Next is bringing my eco-essentials: my water bottle, eco-bag, bamboo straw and food utensils (spoon, fork and chopsticks). Environmentalism is a daily habit.
What 3 pointers would you provide for people who'd like to start seriously pursuing an environmental lifestyle?
Be genuine with your cause.
Do not insist your environmental lifestyle to your friends. Let them notice it.
Changing to our alternative options must be done step by step. Start by bringing reusable water bottles.
Fun fact about the environment or a species that you think people should know.
Concreting lands do not solve flooding!
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
You have to be courageous, wise and strategic starting today because a lot of things will happen in pursuit of protecting our environment.
What is a philosophy or words you live by?
We practice what we preach before influencing others.
What is the best advice you've ever received from anyone?
I got this one from my boss/mentor while chatting with her over Whatsapp. She said, “You know, people have individual talents and skills that they excel in. It’s just a matter of [learning] how you use it.”
Aside from conservation / environmentalism, what are other causes near and dear to your heart?
Youth empowerment. We need to empower young locals in the areas where our cause is located, for the hope that they will be the next front liners in our advocacy.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Use of single-use plastic while eating my comfort food (siomai sa tisa), a common dimsum dish that is locally famous in Cebu City. I don’t usually go there unless I’m so worn out.
What are three of the most personally moving moments you've had in your time with SPS?
First is when I won a grant for my project in our barangay. Second, I was chosen to join the YSEALI SEA Camp Sunmit and got a chance to be in the same room with then-U.S. Secretary of the State, John Kerry. Last was when I got employed by SPS in for the Shark Shelter Project in Malapascua Island.
Where do you see SPS in five years?
I want SPS to be a self-sustaining NGO while still doing what it usually does: empowering young individuals for environmental conservation, pursuing and creating different approach in environmental conservation and adopting an area to focus on marine conservation efforts.
What for you is SPS's greatest accomplishment?
The SEA Camp. I am a product of the SEA Camp, and I was able to do what I am currently doing right now because of it. It empowers individuals in utilizing his/her own talents and skills in their own environmental conservation efforts.
How do you feel about the gains of marine conservation (MC) in the Philippines? What has the MC community been successful at addressing and what do you have to continue working on?
I’m optimistic about the efforts in marine conservation in the Philippines, all thanks to the different NGOs working on it. I commend the MC community in their pursuit and how they tap our LGU’s to strengthen its efforts. We have to work hand in hand in communicating, educating and hiring locals to be more efficient and effective in our MC approaches.
Follow Kenny Silud on Instagram @kennysilud.