For two and a half years now, progress for YPDR, under the auspices of Kataw Foundation, has always been positive and steady to say the very least, but every now and again we make major advances. Among our biggest steps forward was the day we first met and were given a thumbs up by the world renowned Philippine environmental attorney Antonio Oposa on Bantayan.
A gentleman with Tony Oposa’s influence can make things happen on an epic scale, and for us to have his support is immeasurable. For two days, April 21st and 22nd, (Earth Day), Mr. Oposa hosted an event at his marine sanctuary in Barangay Okoy on Bantayan Island with emphasis on rehabilitating the environment and changing peoples’ attitudes regarding our planet earth. It wouldn’t be a Filipino gathering without lots of great food and a childrens’ music group.
His invited guests included none other than the Deputies of the Ombudsman from each of the three geographical sections of the Philippines along with over twenty attorneys from their offices. Also present were representatives of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources and the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity as well as film maker and environmental attorney Justin Rose to document this important event.
YPDR, in conjunction with Kataw Foundation, was invited by Tony Oposa to present our marine restoration and conservation programme. His beliefs mirror ours in the concept of ‘Restorative Eco-tourism’. Using one of our rafts and Tony’s glass bottomed boat, we were able to bring about 25 of the attendees out onto the water to take part in a hands-on demonstration in site selection, dome deployment and positioning on the sea bed.
We were excited to give a crash course in scuba diving to some of the top environmental attorneys in the Philippines including Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, Honourable Gerard Mosquera, who is now heading up the Philippine Environmental Ombudsman Team. As the domes are dropped in the water, they always land the wrong way up so a diver must ‘flip’ each one so it sits the correct way, so some were done by free diving and some by scuba diving with help from the guests.
Our marine protection programme which was inspired by Attorney Oposa himself, was given the stamp of approval by everyone including Honourable Paul Clemente, the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas and his counterpart in Mindanao, Honourable Rodolfo Elman. We are privileged beyond imagination, and we look forward to a long term working relationship with the Office of the Ombudsman. Great things to come from Kataw and YPDR as we focus on climate change adoption, disaster risk reduction and marine restoration and conservation.
Our dreams for this island and beyond, and those of the environmental attorneys who we met recently go hand in hand. With these new V.I.P. contacts all over the Philippines we plan on extending our good work to other needy areas around the country.