#SeatizenSunday Stay-in Series: Dave, Marja, and Sally

Sleep, kombucha, yoga, and webinars - these are some keywords you'll be encountering for this week's #SeatizenSunday Stay-in Series. Today, we chat with different kinds of marine conservationists: one that manages community-based projects in Negros Occidental; a surfer/eco-entrepreneur/NGO worker from Siargao Island; and a zoologist and communications specialist based in Dumaguete City.


Dave Albao, Executive Director, Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (managing Danjugan Island)

How has COVID-19 affected your work?  


Our experiential learning programs that are popular in the summer are all cancelled - no camps, no tourism, so there's a struggle to sustain jobs. This time is also pushing us to innovate and redesign for organizational resilience.

What's been keeping you busy? 


Keeping afloat by writing proposals for project funding or alternative revenue streams. We've also been hosting Zoom webinars! Outside of work hours, I only have the house to clean, storage to sort, and old documents to find.


What are you looking forward to the most? 


For sure I want to dive right into the sea the first chance I get, which should be at Danjugan Island because it's the one place I miss the most. 


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


Speaking and reading Mandarin. I know what you're thinking - but I believe we can better protect our seas if we know other languages.

How have you been taking care of yourself?


I can be better in taking care of myself, for sure. But I try to practice yoga for my body and meditation for my mind. Something that works for me is turning off all notifications on my mobile. I only see updates when the apps are open.


Learn more about Danjugan Island's Our Future Fund here.


Marja Abad, Founder/President, SEA Movement


How has COVID-19 affected your work?


In SEA Movement, we have saved enough funds to pay our one and only paid staff and run a few projects until the end of the year. So it means we have to re-think what projects we need to work on - these should be able adapt to quarantine restrictions on the island.


But in our business that heavily relies on tourism (resort, surf shop and cafe), my work now mainly revolves around trying to do the limited operations we are allowed to do, keeping our skeletal staff employed and helping them get all the benefits they can.


[This] gave me a legit reason to slow down because everyone else is also taking it slow. It’s good to have down time; it removes a lot of stress in my life. But the most challenging part is providing for our staff who we consider our island family.


What's been keeping you busy (work/non-work)?


I dabble in cooking, baking, gardening, designing spaces and applying it in improving Greenhouse to prep it as an eco-retreat once the travel ban is lifted. I also guide the SEAM’s project manager in organizing the community farm we are supporting. That’s my day time. My night is having dinner over Netflix and watching 1-2 movies or documentaries or reading a book, which I didn’t do before because pre-COVID19, I just get too tired at night after working and surfing a lot.


What are you looking forward to the most?


Surfing freely! Surfing is still banned here :(


What new skill did you learn or old skill did you pick up again (if any)?


New skill: Making my own kombucha

Old skill: Being happily isolated


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


I’ve been getting a lot of sleep. I stopped drinking coffee and realized how my energy is so dependent on my caffeine intake. Without it, I can finally have siestas and it makes me feel more chilled. I highly advise to get as much sleep as you can. It can make you less cranky and give you a healthy glow (combined with healthy diet and exercise).


Sally Snow, Executive Director, LAMAVE


How has COVID-19 affected your work?


All our (LAMAVE) research sites are closed in keeping with orders from local and national governments. The summer is usually the busiest time of the year for the team as many of our research sites are based at or near top wildlife tourist destinations. It's strange to not be in the field, but we have so much other work to do.


Our core team is working hard - cleaning and analyzing data, writing reports etc. Personally I have been thinking about the NGOs' strategy following this pandemic. For me, there are two significant things to think about 1) the global economy and how it will impact funding for non-profits; and 2) people's attachment and awareness of nature. Being locked inside has provided an opportunity to think about what is truly valuable to us (e.g. family, open spaces, the great outdoors) and to see that change is possible (reduction in air pollution, working from home). The optimistic me is excited to see where we go from here as a global community, but the realist in me knows it will not be without challenges and sacrifice.


What's been keeping you busy (work/non-work)?


The LAMAVE website! We have redesigned it and updated the content as it was out of date. Website design is expensive so this is something we decided to do ourselves. As always, this was a learning experience and it has been relentless, but I think I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!


What are you looking forward to the most?


Short term: Going to the beach with friends. Feeling the sea water on my skin and in my hair.

Long term: Seeing my family and friends in Europe - they feel further away than ever.


What new skill did you learn or old skill did you pick up again (if any)?


I've completed a few online courses that are specifically targeted at NGOs. I've mainly focused on strategy, fundraising, and storytelling. Enrolling in a course has really helped keep me motivated to move forward. For anyone working for a non-profit, check out Philanthropy University for some amazing free courses.


How have you been taking care of yourself?


Yoga, for mind and body. Coming to the mat helps me check in on myself each day, both physically and mentally. Sometimes I feel great, other days I need a hug. Yoga helps me recognize that and find balance. I am also gardening and loving it! Usually, my schedule doesn't allow me to grow anything that needs consistent care. I love my work, but it has also forced me to reflect on my busy lifestyle and has made me realize how little time I was giving myself.

Save Philippine Seas 2020. All Rights Reserved.