Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Ever heard of Emong the hermit crab who decided to use a can as a home instead of salvaging sea shells? Probably not. I wrote the tale of Emong many years ago after seeing a crab awkwardly pulling a sardine can on the shores of San Salvador Island in Zambales. Quite isolated and far from big cities where garbage abounds San Salvador Island then was spared from refuse and non-biodegradable wastes coming from the mainland. However, seeing this spectre in front of me inspired to write the tale of Emong and to do something about garbage on land that end up in our Oceans.

Back to the present, it’s a few days from World Oceans Day and I only thought about one title for my blog: Our coral reefs are dying.. full stop. Too morbid? But it’s real and let me put my optimism hat on the shelf for now.

I’ve been diving for more than half of my mortal life (I’m 41 regardless of how I look, hehe) and I’ve seen how our oceans have been the dumping ground and recipient of all the refuse we humans use and misuse. I’ve seen corals smothered by everyday items such as drinking straws and plastic bags to toxic substances such as used batteries and effluents from manufacturing plants or even resorts. I’ve seen different marine organisms making a home out of tin cans, pvc pipes, PET bottles, broken cups… or even sea urchins using plastics for camouflage instead of blades of seagrasses or algae… name it I’ve probably seen it.

Once a year we have the international coastal clean up day and there’s a lot of hullabaloo on this day for media attention and “pogi or ganda points”. But does it have to be only one day in a year? It is also very disappointing to see that those joining in the clean up use a lot of disposable packaging for their food that eventually ends up in the same ocean that they have just tried to clean up… Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

We can always say that nature adapts but until when and up to what extent? Is Emong better off with a tin can as a house? (when it gets published you’ll find out so no spoiler here)

I will not even rant about other issues such as the illegal harvesting of black corals that is now in the news or why power plants are going to be built adjacent to marine protected areas or the impacts of climate change on the oceans including ocean acidification because I know others will write about it on this day.

On this day, let us all be reminded that sometimes the smallest acts can have the greatest impact on the environment and on the attitude of other humans.

For the longest time I and my friends use reusable shopping bags whenever we go to the market in Anilao. We are often asked why we say no to plastic bags and the simple answers are: “Basura lang kasi” and “Puro basura na nga dagat natin eh kaya dapat huwag na gumamit ng plastic bags”. Some would react indifferently but nods of approval come from those who understand. Batangas is now going to ban the use of plastic bags following the move of other municipalities and cities. I was there last weekend carrying my usual reusable bags when I went to the market. Some of the comments I heard are: “Ayun ready na siya pag bawal na plastics…”, “Puwede naman pala yung magdala ng sariling lalagyan ang mamimili eh!”, “Kaya pala kayo dati pa nagdadala na ng sariling bag para din di na dumumi ang dagat naten!”.

Our reefs are dying, but there’s hope.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Been so long...

It's been so long since I posted on this blog since I opened my account at multiply (

You who have posted today that you dreamt of me, please get in touch with me. I still have my old number by the way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


My father recently had a mild stroke and an operation to remove gall stones. As usual I tried to put on a brave front and did not want to appear worried yet deep inside my emotions could be compared to a tempest that a sailor can't tame.

I have never reconciled with mortality or the idea of death. That's the reason I avoid funerals as much as I can, especially of relatives and close friends. Maybe because I believe that I'll return again to this earth in another form or as a human being. On the other hand, maybe that's me trying to console myself and assuring myself life goes on, albeit in another state or another world.

My father being ill lately has knotted my emotions and has stirred a lot of thoughts that I've been trying to hold down.

I posted before that Everything But the Girl's songs have been a refuge for me. Here's one that reminds me how important parents are:

British Summertime

Leaving at dawn to beat the traffic, do you remember that too?
Curled asleep on the back seat, do you remember that too?
The soundless dark, the empty road, do you remember that too?
And that child asleep, only eight years old, do you recognise as you?

June, July, September, stretched ahead and out of view.
The whole world seemed a safe place, and never ending too.
But it was never as simple as you thought, there were just things you never knew,
and up ahead your parents bore the weight of all their worries and yours too.

Windows down on the coast road, wanting to be first to see the sea.
The whole world seemed a safe place, temporarily.
But it was never as simple as you thought, and you found out as you grew,
that up ahead your parents had borne the weight of all their worries and yours too.
All their worries and yours too.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I woke up today thinking about my presscon, my being single for more than 90% of my life, the recent typhoon, this weekend when I'll be diving in Anilao, the recent case of my father having a mild stroke thus reminding me that my parents are mortal after all, work-related stress due to inter-personal dynamics that tires you down, climate change that will change the face of lives here on earth, the evil behind the perpetrators of ge, those destroying our forests, people inventing destructive weapons and gadgets to kill others, our government whose sole purpose is to make lives difficult and miserable, other governments who are the same, the few people leading their people as they should, my falling in love with straight guys, my falling in love (still) with some women, my quirks, my rantings, my anger, my hopes, my pride, my oh my...

What am I trying to say? I don't know... Anxiety creeps up once in a while and I need a release or even some form of relief... I need a hug, I need intimacy, I neeed someone to talk to the whole night or just be with... Everyone needs someone, I do too...

The Myrmidson ( provides me some relief this morning as I prepare for my media activity. Here's my favourite song, and the title is MY FAVORITE (have to spell it the American way, hehe):

You're my favorite
You're my favorite
You're my favorite
I still love you
even though you no longer fit

You're my favorite
You're my favorite

Honest and truly
Will you always remain faithful
Honest and truly
stay true to me

You're my favorite
You're my favorite

Monday, Tuesday na na na na
Wednesday, Thursday na na na na
Friday, Saturday na na na na
Sunday, Monday na na na na

Saturday, August 19, 2006

En Route to a Marine Disaster

We left port a few minutes ago heading towards Guimaras, the site of what is now considered worst oil spill in Philippine history. It is my first time to be on the Esperanza and have joined the Rainbow Warrior and the Arctic Sunrise several times, more recently visiting the pristine reefs of Tubbataha. Now I am onboard the Esperanza for the Defending Our Oceans Expedition.

Before leaving the port, I sat on the port side of the ship watching floating plastics and other garbage on the waters of Manila Bay, I can not help but feel anxious about what awaits us in the waters of Guimaras. It is depressing enough to see synthetic flotsam on the water’s surface as well as taking pictures of corals and other marine life smothered by plastics and other garbage. However, I do not think I am quite prepared to witness an oil spill first hand after seeing several documentaries of other oil spills and pictures of this recent and ongoing disaster.

We spent a lot of time discussing and considering the different factors that led to the decision to bring the Esperanza to Guimaras. More importantly, we had to make sure that Greenpeace would be there to make a difference in the ongoing efforts to minimise the impacts of the spill, if that is possible. As her name means, the Esperanza brings hope to a few families in the form of donated relief goods. The Philippine Coast Guard also requested Greenpeace to help in the visual assessment and documentation of affected areas (over and underwater).

As we discussed the plans to dive in areas affected by the oil spill, images of corals and other marine organisms covered in black sludge flashed into my mind notwithstanding our personal safety if we would dive in the oil slick. I have seen dead and dying corals which are almost totally white during the coral bleaching event in 1998 that brought tears to my eyes while I was diving conducting the assessment. Now I have to prepare myself to see something worse.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I have been doing environmental work for the past 22 years of my life, which is more than half of my mortal life on this earth so far. Some people have asked me if I don't get tired nor frustrated being involved in a noble albeit very difficult (and some would say "hopeless") cause.

I would agree that it is indeed a stressful, exhausting and more often than not frustrating cause to be in but it is not hopeless... there are big and small things that happen once in a while that reminds us why we choose the path we choose to tread.

I was sitting quietly (mostly lying down) the other night in my room when a feature on African penguins titled "City Slickers" was showing on Animal Planet. It is about penguins living amongst humans (or humans living in what used to be penguin habitat...). During the feature, it showed how an oil spill has killed a lot of penguins and how people worked together to save what remains of the penguin population that's already threatened by a lot of other factors. To make the long story short, thousands of penguins were hauled, washed, cleaned and later on released back into their environment after the spill...

I cried... I don't normally cry watching sad movies but this feature made me cry because it moved me and reawakaned my conviction that we humans play a crucial role in getting this planet back in shape, no matter how small or big, every effort counts...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Letters from the guarded castle

We all have ways of dealing with failed dreams, unfilfilled promises and relationships that we know are doomed from the very begining. An example is if a gay guy falls in love with a heterosexual guy he met on a short voyage.

I have always dealt with these experiences by making the first move and not waiting for myself to fall deeper into the chasm of oblivion.

Dear L,

This letter might surprise you or it might not.

I have been giving it a serious thought whether I should write to you or talk to you but I guess this is the best way. After many days of thinking whether it is appropriate or not to let you know how I feel about you, I decided to tell you anyway to give my mind peace. Besides, you’ll probably get this on the last day that we’re meeting each other so I’ll be spared of whatever reaction you’ll have. That may sound selfish but we all have means of protecting ourselves, sorry about that.

I guess it’s quite obvious that I like you, I really like you. I could even say it’s beyond liking you but that would be too impulsive on my part. I was quite impressed meeting you in Hong Kong and having those short and nice conversations with you. After I left the ship, it has been difficult putting you off my mind. I keep thinking of you and even emailed you. Meeting you again in the Tubbataha trip reinforced those feelings.

It would be presumptuous of me to say that having these feelings for you is crazy. But I feel that it would be best for me to let you know. Sometimes it is the best way of letting go, if you know what I mean.

I hope you would not get offended by this letter.

I hope you like the pictures I included.

Take care and see you.