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#SeatizenSunday Stay-in Series: Aa, Dennis, and Poch

This Sunday, we talk to three seatizens with different jobs: a marine ecologist/veterinarian; dive instructor; and entrepreneur. They talk about sleep, gardening, and jumping sharks (!).

AA Yaptinchay, Director, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP)

How has COVID-19 affected your work?

Being house-bound affected my work in conservation as most of the project activities are centered around community work, networking, and training. These activities were either cancelled or postponed. However, MWWP also does online advocacy work so that has been the only venue to continue some of the work over the past few weeks.

What's been keeping you busy?

Mostly non-work. The situation now gives us an opportunity to focus on the life-side of the life-work seesaw. I’ve been spending this time at home with my foster-kid, Aaron, who is four years old. But it is a bit difficult to put some structure into our day. I did some maintenance and minor repairs at home too. I discovered that gardening is rewarding. Since the lockdown started, my garden has been giving me hours of enjoyment outdoors – watching and caring for plants as they grow, develop shoots, bloom, and some even bear fruits.

What new skill did you learn or old skill did you pick up again?

This has to be appreciation of plants and gardening. It is an amazing how one can propagate some plants so easily. I’m also trying to grow vegetables in the garden. I guess this is part of honing my skills in nurturing nature, self-sufficiency, and sustainable living practices. I believe that COVID-19 has taught us to be mindful, to take care of ourselves and others, including the environment. I am hoping that this gets translated into positive actions in the near future.

How have you been taking care of yourself?

Health is on everyone’s mind these days. I always say that one of the best things you can do for the environment is to stay healthy so you can continue on with the ‘fight’ in conservation. The situation now allows us to sleep adequately, eat home-cooked meals, and breathe fresh air - thanks to the 71% drop in air pollution. These are things that we take for granted which can only be good for our health. Hope we keep some of those permanently after the quarantine period.

What are you looking forward to the most?

As travel is restricted, I am not in the environment that I’m trying to save, the sea. So, I am looking forward to being in the sea or in the coast again to implement project activities.

Dennis Bait-it, Dive Instructor and Conservation Head, Evolution Dive

How has COVID-19 affected your work? No diving! Since the lockdown, various executive orders have been declared and one of those is prohibiting any beach activity (swimming, snorkeling, diving, etc.). I'm a dive instructor, so no work, no pay. What's been keeping you busy? Since everything is shut, dive operators around the island worked together and volunteered their dive boats for bantay dagat to use in patrolling the MPA's around the island. I am coordinating the logistics and schedules, as well as making sure that proper charges are imposed on illegal fishers caught. I also volunteered to guard the coastlines, to make sure that no one from other places get into the island without proper procedure following ECQ rules. Netflix and I'm currently brushing my dive theory by reading a book about decompression and technical diving. What are you looking forward to the most? Diving! I've been hearing reports from our patrols that they frequently see thresher sharks jumping out of the water and various reef sharks and turtles have been spotted from the shore.

Poch Espina, CEO, Sip and Loop.

How has COVID-19 affected your work?

Sip and Loop have completely stopped all its operations since the quarantine took place so most of work has just been urgent tasks, and occasional emails or requests. Every now and then, there’s planning and contemplating what could be done in a post-COVID world, where our main stream of income that supports the current operations will be drastically decreased. However, even planning is quite difficult given the unpredictability of events, and of course one’s own anxieties over the uncertainty of the future.

What's been keeping you busy?

The best way to describe it is I’m back to being a student who went on summer vacation, except I have bills to pay, families to feed, and responsibilities to attend to. I’m really just a bum on some days: building my city in Cities: Skylines; watching Netflix until 4am; or just sleeping a lot. And I think that’s okay. I also made small goals not related to work like finishing a book I haven’t finished for over 2 years! I managed to get myself to workout 6 days a week, which for someone who just does thing on a whim, was a good achievement for me.

What new skill did you learn or old skill did you pick up again?

Does getting abs and core strength count? CHOZ. I’m clearly playing too much Sims when I feel like when I workout, my skill bar for fitness is increasing.

How have you been taking care of yourself? Any self-care tip?

A lot of sleep. It’s not all the time that things just suddenly stop and your everyday is massively disrupted. It allows me to not think too much about what’s going to happen, but instead, focusing on building strength, and a lot of rest before what comes ahead. If that includes sleeping a lot, I’ll take it.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Certainty. It’s nice to know that something will most likely stay close to what it what it is today.


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