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Visiting Home: The "Our Seas, Our Life" Exhibit

Coastal resource management, generally regarded as an academic pursuit in this university town, will literally light up the heart of Dumaguete City very soon, calling people from all walks of life to be part of a snowballing movement to save the seas.

On August 26, the nationally-acclaimed "Our Seas, Our Life", an exhibit on our marine resources, opens in "light-up" ceremonies presided by Provincial Governor George Arnaiz, Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, Silliman University President Agustin Pulido, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Director Patricia Buckles of the United States Agency for International Development, Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) Chief of Party Catherine Courtney and other officials.

The event is organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through its Coastal Environment Program and CRMP in collaboration with the UNESCO National Committee on Marine Sciences, and is supported by the USAID.

The exhibit will be housed at the 2nd floor of the Dumaguete City Public Market Building 2, its third stop on a nationwide tour. It was first unveiled in Cebu in February, at the launching of the International Year of the Ocean 1998 (IYO) Philippine celebration. It was also mounted for a 47-day run at the SM Megamall in Manila last June.

The exhibit features, among others, back-lit photos, information displays, museum specimens and artifacts. About 950,000 people viewed the exhibit in Cebu and Manila.

Dumaguete, a mid-way stop in the show’s six-city tour, is like "visiting home", said Courtney.

"The specimens of giant sea turtles, the whale skeletons and skulls and the corals we have in the displays were graciously loaned to us by the Silliman University Marine Laboratory and Biology Museum," Courtney said. "These items drive home the message of the need for sustainable coastal resource use."

"By integrating these museum specimens into the show we are able to instill in viewers a better appreciation of the resources that are fast disappearing and thus, must be saved through conservation and preservation," she added.

The CRMP integrates information, education and communication (IEC) into various other activities that lead towards a deeper appreciation for the environment and a stronger sense of responsibility for protecting our natural resources.

The "Our Seas, Our Life" exhibit has realized multiple successes. For one, it has brought together thousands to the "I Love the Ocean" Movement, a free-standing organization for sustainable seas.

For another, it has enjoyed noteworthy support from a host of other sectors. For the Dumaguete City staging alone, the government, business, academic, youth and non-government sectors have either pledged or already put in contributions in kind.

Companies like Honeycomb Tourist Inn, Coconut Plantation Inn, Sta. Monica Beach Resort, R & R Rent-a-Van, Menz Rent-a-Car, Boni Rent-a-Car, Opeña’s Pension and Restaurant and Rosante’s Bar and Restaurant are joining national corporate sponsors in assisting the Dumaguete run of "Our Seas, Our Life". The St. Maria Goretti Development Education Foundation also joins the Province of Negros Oriental, the City of Dumaguete and Silliman University Center of Excellence in Coastal Resource Management in providing support to the exhibit.

"We are bringing ‘Our Seas, Our Life’ to Dumaguete knowing fully well that the people of Negros Oriental already have a high level of interest in saving the seas. As it has moved viewers in Cebu and Manila to undertake individual and collective action against the degradation of our coastal and marine resources, so we hope that the viewers in Dumaguete will do the same," CRMP Learning Area Coordinator William Ablong commented.

"Our Seas, Our Life" contains a wealth of information on the state of Philippine marine resources, including a full panel on the National Protected Seascapes and the endangered dugong or sea cow. It is highly recommended as a field trip activity for students of all ages.          



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