The Final Blog?

Alas, here I sit, alone and where it all began eight short weeks ago. In my favourite spot on the floor in Manila Airport, Terminal Three round the back of the ‘Mary Grace’, longing for company. It’s a strange experience being the last one standing (definitely standing. Definitely NOT crying in a heap and comforting myself with Harry Potter audio books). Sitting here for hours I have the unique opportunity to reflect on my time in the Philippines. I did not feel particularly nervous when awaiting the start of the placement 8 weeks ago, but I never could have dreamed that I would find myself amidst the greatest bunch of people this side of the milky way and I feel so lucky.

The placement in Panglao has been everything I dreamed it would be. A #lyfe changing experience which has given me the confidence to apply for those jobs I’ve often thought were out of reach. I honestly feel I have a real chance of working in Australia some time soon. This ‘post-professionally developed life’ and newfound confidence in my abilities will take some getting used to.

The last few days in the Philippines with Anne were equally great, if only Áine and Alyssa could have joined us. How I wish I could go back and tell the group “you’re gonna want to book a trip together after the placement” Looking back, the trip to the Twin Lakes and more delicious eggs benedict reminded me how much I prefer travelling when others are there to enjoy the same experiences. For example, I am now an expert on semi-automatic bikes, but what good is that if you cannot show off to friends when darting through the Dumaguete traffic? There seems to be a plethora (crackin’ word) of travel blogs out there talking about how amazing it can be, not not a great deal that talk about how lonely it can be! I think that’s a rather important point not to omit.

So now I sit, waiting for my expensive capsule (a room that I’m sure will be smaller than I am) to be ready for me, with nothing but my thoughts and Stephen Fry’s soothing voice, he is currently singing the Hogwarts theme song, stewing in a post-zoox blues. Thanks to the long bike ride to the lakes I am also a delightful shade of rouge (tomato red) and in desperate need of a cold shower.

This blog has been tough to write, it’s a genuine struggle attempting and failing to hide how emotional I am right now. I fear there will be no structure and long rambling sentences in this, the final? blog, but I shall refrain from editing too much as it feels more real this way. All that remains is; Áine, Alan, Anne, Alyssa and Sam I just want to say that you are all beautiful people and an absolute credit to your race. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for making me and my bog-standard British accent feel so special. I would be honoured to read to any of you again, any time, anywhere, and any book. I’d give anything to do it all again! I hate myself, but I’m off, to download Instagram…..

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Love you all. Now let’s get you to Sipadan, Dan.

UPDATE: I’ve already morphed into that weird lone traveller that talks to everyone in hostels. Thanks Zoox. For everything.

*drops mic*

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Professionally Developed – with love

It is hard to start this blog. My projects as a volunteer in marine conservation have finished and it is time to look back.  Not an easy job. Where do I start? Six months ago, I took a sabbatical leave from my work in Brussels and left for South East Asia. After five years working in a CSR rating agency, I wanted to experience the environmental impacts at grass root level. A few months earlier, I got my scuba license in Indonesia, Komodo. I remember the heart ache when I first saw a dead coral reef, surrounded in a plastic soup and some lost fishes desperately seeking food and shelter. It was then that I decided I wanted to do more. No better said, that I needed to do more. So, I searched volunteering projects in marine conservation with each a different approach. My first project brought me to Gili Trawangan in Indonesia. Not the most obvious choice as that particular Gili is mostly known for many tourists and its early morning parties.  But among the parties there is an organization called the Gili Eco Trust that works hard to alleviate the pressure tourism has brought upon the island and the coral reefs. They install artificial reefs called Biorocks to prevent further land erosion and providing food and shelter for the marine life.  Unlike other man-made structures, these ones grow stronger over time thanks a s small electrical current that helps the coral grow and gain in resilience against diseases and storms. I learned to identify key indicator fish, substrate and invertebrates, and installed a biorock myself. We organized eco snorkeling tours, trips to the landfill site and to the waste bank or bank Sampah and recycling workshops. I witnessed at first hand the challenges working in a developing country with minimum capacity and funding.  But the eco-warriors were unstoppable which gave me the needed courage to continue onwards to my second project.

This one took me to a small island in Cambodia called Koh Seh. I lived for six weeks with Paul and his family and a bunch of other volunteers.  With limited resources, this was a complete other island life than I was used to in Gili T. We slept in bamboo huts and showered with a bucket. There was no internet connection and only power from 7 pm to 5 am. Marine Conservation Cambodia surveyed the coral reefs in the Kep archipelago, working closely with the local government to install Marine Protected Areas. While conducting reef surveys, I made an island recycling guide on building Ecobricks and beanbags with all the plastic and Styrofoam that washed upon the shores of Koh Seh on a daily basis. MCC also patrolled the seas for Illegal and Unreported Fisheries (IUU) which often led to dangerous situations.  With stormy weather, the trawlers would hide in the sound of thunder, no one there to stop them. Despite being there for a short time, I felt and shared the frustration and sadness of the people that protected the MPA every day, while the trawlers destroyed the sea beds at night, and no government that had the capacity or willingness to help them.  No, working in marine conservation is certainly not a walk through the park. But they kept going, and so had I.

My third and last project led me to the Philippines where I joined the Zoox Experience Program. Their approach was geared towards training and skills development, while working as a Green Fins assessor promoting sustainable diving practices. I never could have imagined the impact this project would have on my life, both on a personal as professional level. I conducted assessments, provided feedback and trained dive operators on how to reduce their environmental impact. I consulted with local government on installing solid waste management solutions and provided input for implementing environmental policies.  But most importantly, I have spent these eight weeks with the most beautiful, funny and inspiring people I have ever met. Thanks Sam and Alan for being our mentors, teachers and friends at the same time. Thanks for your pep talks, memorable hugs, for being good and bad cop and for making us believe in ourselves. And a special thanks to Aine, Alyssa and Dan, the absolute dream team. Whether it was doing assessments, training, personal projects, you guys were there and had my back. No brownout could stop us. We laughed, danced, snoozed and cuddled and I wished I could do it all over again. OH – we had a cracking time.  Miss you guys already!

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Goodbyes

So where are we eating for lunch guys?

Anything left to do today guys?

Anyone have any insect repellant?

…Hello? …. Anyone there?

It’s August 7th and I’m currently sitting on the floor of Manila Airport lapping up the air con. I’m sure I’m exaggerating when I say this, but it feels like the first time I’ve been on my own for 2 whole months. Where is everyone? Why is no one offering me island hopping trips or motor cycle rides?

It’s a very strange feeling to leave something that has become your day to day life for 8 weeks. In 28 hours I’ll be touching down in Dublin. But in my mind I’m still wandering down to Alona Beach making sure I have everything ticked off my to-do list (including my blog, which I realise is 2 days late on being uploaded – sorry!).

 

With the hectic schedule of the last two weeks, Blog #4 has been the last thing on everyone’s mind. I’ve spent the last few days racking my brain for topics to write about but with no real success or inspiration.  But now it seems only fitting to dedicate the final Zoox blog to the weird and wonderful Zoox family that I’ve gained along the way. So here are some special shout outs to the real MVPS:

OH! Anne – For sneaky boat naps and cuddles. For the regular “Hey guys, our lives are so awesome right now” reminders. For being so focused it scared me into focusing too. For always noticing when I needed a pep talk. For being there to see my first manta ray.  For the best running around in circles dancing Panglao has ever seen.

OH! Alyssa – For not going a single day without bursting out into song or random loud noises. For being our own personal cheerleader. GO GENERALS! For making incredible egg fried rice. For your amazing ability to slip British slang naturally into your vocabulary. For being a proper ray of sunshine.

OH! Dan – My unofficial husband. For spitting a shot of tequila in my eyes and somehow still managing to make me find it hilarious (I’ll never forgive you). For being there to save me when I ran out of air. For cartoons, accent impressions, what is life conversations, driving me insane and more belly laughs than I could ever count.

OH! Alan – For being stranded in torrential storms at 4am and thinking a piece of cardboard over our heads would keep us dry. For introducing me to  “good looking girls who take ugly photos”. For somehow managing to be a boss, a neighbour and a mate all in one. For all your new adventures.

OH! Sam – For managing to be present even from another island. For constant support and the occasional interjection of sense when we needed it. For having the worlds most enthusiastic laugh (it makes me more confident in my comedic ability) For all the motivational speeches, inspiration, love and cuddles.

 

Over and out from a sleepy, professionally developed Irish kid x

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It’s Over?

My time in the Philippines has officially come to an end. WOW. Where did these two months go? It feels like just yesterday I was being picked up by Sam at the airport and taken to MCP, but yet at the same time that feels like ages ago. I have gotten so use to my life here in Panglao it feels like it has always been this way. This is my life now, but its not. I get on a plane tomorrow and fly back to the states!! How crazy is that??? The Filipinos are so friendly they truly make you feel at home.

I have learned a lot here and feel like I have really grown as a person. I have been ‘professionally developed’ and now its time to use what I have learned and find the next rung in the ladder to the top of my marine conservational career. I am excited to see what will happen next. Looking back to the beginning of this journey I never would of thought I would have gotten this much out of a two-month experience.

I have delivered a multi-stakeholder clean up event with collaboration with the local government unit. I have used my knowledge of tropical marine ecology to deliver complex scientific concepts to non-specialist audiences.  (Sounds fancy huh?) Being able to identify the skills I learned and put them down on paper is a huge success just in itself. I will never be able to thank Alan and Sam enough for the confidence and professional knowledge that has been bestowed upon me through out my experiences here. Thank you 🙂

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Plastic Plastic Plastic

 

IMG_8238.jpgI have been so busy this past month and have learned A LOT! However, no matter where you are or what your doing solid waste is always an issue. If you think it is not an issue that’s because you live in a place where you throw your trash into a container, put that container outside, and then to never be thought of again. This trash then goes to a landfill and will sit there forever.———Like Here————->

That is not a solution that will last long. This is why it is so important to first REFUSE single use plastics and second RECYCLE what you do use.

The only real solution to the waste problem is to stop producing single use plastics. Plastic takes around 450 years to break down and then they still aren’t even completely gone. They remain as micro plastics. These micro plastics can end up in the food chain. Which can end up on your plate if you eat seafood. Who knows what this does to your body but it can’t be good. ‘Plastic Oceans’ estimate more than 8 million tons of plastics are dumped in to the ocean EVERY YEAR!

You can make an impact by changing to use less plastic. Whether it is saying no to a plastic straw in your drink, or bringing your own bags the next time you go shopping. Small steps can make a big impact! The U.S alone discards 500 million straws EVERY DAY! Every day can you believe that? That is just in the states. An item that you will use for only 30 minutes while enjoying a beverage can have a huge impact on the environment! Is a straw really all the necessary for you to drink something? Straws and plastic bags are super light and can blow away easily. This means they don’t always just end up in landfills (to sit for the rest of eternity) they can end up in the ocean. Where a poor little turtle thinks that bag is a jellyfish and eats it. I know I saw a video of a straw being pulled out of a turtles nose and it was heart breaking! So the next time you get a drink and use a straw you actually just jammed it up a turtles nose and left it forever in agonizing pain. So don’t be THAT guy who kills innocent sea life just say no!

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But seriously say no to single use plastics! 🙂

 

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She(‘)ll be Fined…

There’ll be no more terrible puns from here on in!

Let’s talk about shells. They’re pretty right? They come in all shapes and sizes, and in some you can even hear the ocean! Clearly, this means they belong around your neck, or as a perfect addition to your bathroom correct? WROOONG. In a world where climate change is already the biggest threat to life on earth for this and many generations to come. It is important to do everything we can to combat the damage already done by human activity, and this includes leaving shells in the ocean! Surprising I know, but let me explain why.

Firstly let’s talk about endangered species. We all know about charismatic megafauna; your polar bears, sharks, pandas, blue whales, dugongs, tigers and what have you. However, the damaging actions of us humans know no bounds and have reached the critters that call shells their home. As of September 2016 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 581 critically endangered mollusc species, and 11 subspecies, including 117 which are tagged as possibly extinct. Not only that but there are 511 species and 6 subspecies of gastropod assessed as critically endangered. Molluscs are invertebrates of a large phylum that includes snails, mussels, oysters, octopus and squid. Gastropods are a large class of mollusc which includes whelks. Simply put, all gastropods are molluscs but not all molluscs are gastropods.

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What does all of this mean for you? Well, it’s classic supply and demand! If you buy a pretty shell for jewellery or decoration, this shows a demand and therefore encourages people to go and kill more marine life for their shells to supply the increase in demand. This is not as easy a problem to solve as you might think. Here in Panglao my comments have been met with stubborn yet funny remarks by charismatic chaps just trying to make a living. They really don’t care about laws or indeed, their safety. The last time we visited a shell seller, for a photo, I explained some simple ecology of the textile cone shell (circled 1). “If you pick up this animal while it is alive, it has a venom strong enough to kill you in minutes” I said. This was met with a hearty laugh and a comment that he knew this already. We tried a different tactic: “If I was to try to take these 3 shells (circled 2; one of which is the beautiful Nautilus – not how I pictured seeing my first one!) out of the Philippines, I would be fined PHP120,000 and/or thrown in jail for 20 years”. Again this was met with a laugh and the cheeky comment of “no, only one of the shells sir” well that’s okay then!

“Well Daniel, I won’t buy shells anymore I’ll just take them straight outta the ocean for free!” I hear you cry, and with rather a smug face I might add. But whoa now, hold your horses. I knew you were going to say that and lucky for you I’m still here to be your personal ‘Debbie-Downer’. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. OCEAN ACIDIFICATION! Part of such a big problem, the phrase needs to be shouted. If you’re sick of hearing about it, that means it’s probably time to do something about it.

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The world’s oceans and seas are naturally alkaline. This is due to the salt and mineral content of the water. Now, because of increased levels of atmospheric CO2, the pH of the oceans is being pushed away from it’s natural alkalinity towards neutral (pH 7). This may not seem like a problem, but it is. Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are higher than they have been at any time in the past 400,000 years. In 2013 the level surpassed 400ppm for the first time in recorded history. However, without our oceans these terrifying figures would be much worse. 25% of atmospheric CO2 is absorbed and stored by our oceans and marine ecosystems.

Shells play an important role in combating this problem as well. They are made out of calcium carbonate, the same ‘salt’ that makes up a coral’s exoskeleton. When shells break down and erode due to wave action, this essential calcium carbonate can be reused by corals, to help them remain strong and resilient in a time when threats to their existence are around every corner. It is a natural cycle that should not be broken, but we humans seem to be experts in these sorts of thing. I’d say its time to change! Every ecosystem is linked and coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds are no different. Each play a vital role in carbon sequestration (storage), a key weapon in the fight against climate change and ocean acidification.

So next time you think about buying a shell or taking them on a dive or from the beach remember they are much too important to remove from their home. Not to mention you could be robbing a future home from an adorable hermit crab!

Ps. As a final note I think I need to reassure people that I am having an amazing time in the Philippines, I just love a good moan. Also, I’d like to say RIP Chester Bennington. Your excellent music has helped me plough through; 1) this blog post, and 2) the difficult times of my childhood. Legend.

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It’s more fun in the Philippines

Over the last two weeks the Filipino tourism slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” has been thrown around quite sarcastically.

 

“It’s been three days since we’ve had electricity.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!”

 

“I got so hot last night I thought I had dengue fever.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!”

 

“The storm blew a hole in the roof.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!

 

After my ear infection hit for the second time, putting me out of diving for another week my personal sarcasm levels definitely hit the roof. My quest to be seen by a doctor was more difficult than I anticipated. There are two clinics on Panglao island that I had become familiar with during the first ear infection. The first, I avoided as I knew that all I would find there would be a sign on the door saying “Doctor on holidays.. Back in one month”. The second clinic was were I had been successful the first time, so my journey began there. I was welcomed back by the same concerned nurse from my first visit, “hey it’s the Irish diver with the sore ear!”. But the warm welcome was followed by the sad news that their doctor had also decided to head away on holidays and would be “back in a few days”.  And so I hopped on a bike and made the sweaty (and dizzy, thanks to my ear) journey to Tagbilaran city.

Just when you think you’re getting used to life in Asia, a trip to a built up area is enough to set your unjust confidence straight. Finding my way around is something I’ve accepted I’ll never be great at.. But crossing the road is a skill I’d like to have thought I’d mastered quite some time ago. Not so much here.. But thankfully my habal-habal driver noticed my struggling as I stood at the edge of the road for just long enough to be embarrassing and stepped out in front of the moving traffic, slowing it down long enough for me to make my way to the hospital (pride slightly damaged).

After two hospitals informing me they were full for the day and to come back tomorrow I must have been looking a bit defeated as I was offered help by another kind stranger. This time, a police man who called me a tricycle and insisted on making the journey with me to another hospital to make sure I was seen to. It was still unsuccessful – but the gesture was nice. I did however manage to secure an appointment for the next morning, which involved seeing the inside of my ear on a t.v screen and various terrifying looking cleaning devices. I left the hospital feeling like it was the first time I was hearing properly in my life. Pain gone, dizziness gone, hearing back. Is this what having super powers feels like!?

After the second ear infection I was also feeling much more cautious. I returned back to the local clinic in Panglao two or three more times for a quick check up to make sure I was fit to get back in the water. The doctor, who at this stage laughed a little every time I wandered in, would look so guilty as he’d tell me “maybe just a few days more”.  Clearly torn between keeping me from losing my ear and ruining my fun. He was also so fantastically kind. Refusing to let me pay for any consultations after my first visit and much to the irritation of the other waiting patients, giving my ear a quick examination immediately after I arrived. It was almost sad to get the all clear and to leave hoping it would be my last visit.

When I imagined this scenario playing out back in Ireland, I couldn’t help but feel a bit homesick. I thought of the simplicity of getting in the car, driving to the doctor, receiving a prescription, going home and waiting it out until I was better. This was when I realised just how accurate the sarcastic remarks actually were. Yes, it would be more convenient back home, but where’s the fun in that? No bike rides around the island, no personal police chaperone, no making friends with drivers, doctors, nurses, no real feeling of having accomplished something when it’s over. With just over two weeks left in the Philippines I will definitely be monitoring by sarcasm because I know once I am home I will soon miss the adventure that was in the everyday activities. From cooking by candle light during the power cuts, to the barber that somehow managed to power his entire shop by hooking it up to his motorbike engine.  It really is more fun in the Philippines!

 

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Making pasta in the dark.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!

 

 

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Cool Down

Unbleach

It is all about climate change nowadays. And with good reason! More and more people experience this at first hand. The seasons are getting confused as a consequence of global warming. I got surprised myself by the monsoon (rainy season) arriving one month earlier than normal in Cambodia, impacting the diving conditions greatly. Rising sea water temperatures causes corals to bleach. Bleaching is a coral’s natural response to severe stress, and if the stress persists for too long, corals can die. In addition, bleached corals become more vulnerable to disease.   Mass coral bleaching events are becoming more frequent due to our greenhouse gas emissions.

And why there are still people denying global warming, Mother Nature has just made herself clear. Only a couple of days ago a massive iceberg broke off from the Antarctica ice shelf. It is estimated the iceberg that is now drifting through the Southern Ocean would be about 620 feet (190 metres) thick and harbour some 277 cubic miles (1,155 cubic kilometres) of frozen water. That’s big enough to fill more than 460 million Olympic-size swimming pools with ice, or nearly all of Lake Michigan – one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world!  Due to the rapid rising of temperatures in West Antarctica, ice shelves are becoming more fragile than ever. Not only does this massive iceberg pose a security risk to maritime traffic, its separation could cause other glaciers to drift into the Atlantic Ocean and melt, which could raise the global water mark by 10 centimetres.

Sea level rises will cause floods and leave entire villages blank. People will have to leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere. Such climate refugees will put even more pressure on the already basic infrastructure in developing countries, unavoidable leading to conflicts. And while this is an enormous task to be tackled by governments, there are a few easy lifehacks that can help us to reduce our CO2 footprint to help slow down this process while governments continue pointing fingers at each other.

  • Go public! As I do not have a car, I am already a loyal customer of public transportation. For a long time, I commuted between home and work for 3 hours a day. And while this wasn’t always a joyride, I still got more things done than if I would have taken a car. I had time to read the newspaper, respond to texts and emails, to read that book I never got around to, or just to enjoy my power nap. I didn’t have to pay for fuel or insurance or parking tickets and waste my time finding parking spots or being stuck in traffic jams.
  • Buy local food and cut the beef and dairy as much as possible! It is often cheaper and while we are reducing our CO2 footprint, we are also supporting the local economy.
  • Save energy! Just remind to turn off lights, heating, air-conditioning and other electric appliances when leaving the room. Also replacing light bulbs with LED lights, insulating the house and installing solar panels will do the trick, while saving on electricity bills the same time.
  • Go paperless! Think twice before printing out a 100-page report and ask phone operators and electricity providers to send the bills electronically. Forests and mangroves are true carbon sinks, capturing billions of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the train doesn’t take me to all destinations.  In Europe, ‘Blablacar’ is a car sharing initiative which is cheap, fast, safe and very user friendly.  However, to go outside Europe, I am often bound to take an airplane to reach my travel destinations. As these planes are not yet running on third generation biofuel, my carbon footprint is increasing every time I buckle my seatbelt and listen to the safety instructions. Carbon offsetting is a way to reduce the emissions that  can’t be avoided. It both helps to combat global climate change as well as caring for local communities by carefully selecting a project to support. In many instances it can provide much needed employment, health improvement, biodiversity and broad social benefits to impoverished communities.  As a first step, calculate and measure your carbon footprint on websites such as http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx and http://www.nature.org/greenliving/ carboncalculator/index.htm and secondly, offset any unavoidable carbon emissions by selecting a carbon offset project.

As a final conclusion, I would like to say we cannot ‘buy’ our way out of the responsibility. Before offsetting emissions, we have to minimize our individual impact on the planet first, whether it be traveling, getting to work, shopping, eating, or buying coffee in the corner café instead of a Starbucks. In doing so, we can each make small, everyday changes that, when combined, will go a long way in curbing global warming.

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Life Anew as a Green Fins Assessor

I cannot get over how friendly and people here are. With the obvious exception of the endless horde of people trying to sell you “trips to see the whales in Oslob”, (I mean, I’m here for six weeks, remember my face I don’t ever want to go to Oslob to see these phantom whales, or the hand-fed, boat scarred sharks…) life is quite pleasant here in Panglao at low season. Sure, over-development is coming and land that used to be beautiful mangrove forest is now filled with half finished resorts on land snapped up by greedy businessmen with a severe lack of foresight. That’s not even mentioning the international airport coming in 2018 that the island of Bohol really isn’t ready for. However, the people here remain ‘ever-chipper’ and ready to lend a helping hand, talk about life and how Panglao has changed. Sometimes for the good, and how lucky they feel that Green Fins assessors are here to save Panglao’s great coral reefs, and seemingly rid the island of all it’s problems. A daunting task not for the faint hearted believe me!

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The New Me.
Adapting to life in the Philippines has been fairly straight forward and I have always been relatively environmentally conscious but a new thing I am attempting for this trip is to decrease my consumption of meat. This is something that I have always found difficult for some reason. Growing up, the only meat I enjoyed was chicken, and my attitude was if there’s no meat on the plate I’m not going to be full up. A statement that couldn’t be further from the truth: I’ll never be full up regardless of what’s on the plate! As a late-comer to steak and pork I rather stubbornly have never wanted to give them up, but how often do you have steak really? It’s a rare treat, and so it should be. I can proudly state that I haven’t had KFC for 10+ years, it’s gross but I do miss the coleslaw and gravy. Also I haven’t eaten tuna for 7 years, least of all because rare tuna steak from the bbq covered in lemon and black pepper is a taste that won’t be beaten (and a memory I shall treasure forever) but it just isn’t sustainable (see Miss Rutten’s blog).

A Bit of Good Old-fashioned Moaning
What I don’t get with fish is why no-one seems to care. Why can people happily call themselves vegetarian, but still eat fish? Why is it that people fight incredibly hard to rescue one Killer Whale or Dolphin from captivity but are perfectly okay with the idea that fish get crushed to death under a tonne of other fish in nets every 5 minutes? The phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” comes vividly to my mind. I’ve never understood Shark-fin soup either, the fin is tasteless and provides zero nutrients and I’ve never been one for traditions they seem bad, old-fashioned and down-right stupid (Bull fighting for example). Anyway I digress, it’s the grumpy English-man in me, but it makes me sad to see severely undersized parrot fis4h and grouper, that look about 6 months old, at fish markets. Educating the future generations is so, so important!

Settling In.
After a week here I have already found my favourite cheap eatery where I can feast like a king for £1.70, the best and also cheapest cup of coffee, and the dive guides and manager I shall miss the most when my time in Panglao comes to an end. At this stage I feel quietly confident about my role as a Green Fins assessor. Feeling comfortable about all the individual tasks one must achieve to complete the assessment, from the often tedious task of organising it in the first place. To delivering the feedback session and writing the report and feedback email. However, the same cannot be said about the daunting personal project set out before me. At this early stage it all seems far too overwhelming and too much for one person to hope to fix. I am encouraged though by the consultations with dive managers that I have held so far. Each having said that the issues that come with the emerging diving markets, are lessening already and they have began to tackle the problem rather effectively (if they do say so themselves), with one manager even suggesting that Green Fins is doing all it can to help already! Tut, tut and shame on you sir, Green Fins can always do more! I can only hope that at the end of these 6 weeks I can be proud of what I’ve achieved.

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From Rags to Riches…. Maybe

After spending two weeks in the jungle, which was a party of mosquitoes, we went to a house with a pool…. Now I feel pretty glamorous. From living in an open hut with a mosquito net, to a house with windows with screens (big deal). I don’t have to spray mosquito repellent on before bed and I would call that a win. Basically I am really enjoying Panglao I mean who wouldn’t we have our own pool! While I really enjoyed my time at Zamboangete, Panglao has been a little bit nicer to me. Working by the pool and taking a break in the pool is how I want my life to be. Walking 20 minutes to the beach for work is also not a bad way to live. Needless to say I need the sun and the sea to survive.

 

After writing that there was an earthquake and we have not had power for 24 hours now. I was in the mist of setting up a presentation when the power went out. So then I had ten people huddled around my computer. Not what I was prepared for but you just have to take what you can get here in the Philippines. Some said the last time there was an earthquake close to here the power was out for ten days!!! If you are reading this send good vibes this way for power 🙂  Currently sitting at a bar for power and wifi getting looks as to why I am not buying anything else after my one cup of coffee……for three hours now.

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