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A year in the reef world

A year in the reef world


For how long have you been in the Philippines? I then start counting and realizing that my fingers are not enough anymore; a year has gone past. Twelve months in this beautiful paradise. Life is certainly not easy here, everything requires a bit more effort: from doing laundry, getting to places (!), running errands, everything requires a little bit more from you. Talking Filipino doesn’t only mean learning Visayan; it means learning the special way of saying things - even in English, the face gestures, understanding how their mind works in order to be understood. Life here is a constant adaptation to the people and their very cheerful way of being.

No day is an ordinary day. I can be woken up by a group of goats shouting by my window, trying to sleep with a chorus of frogs singing to the moon or a group of Filipinos singing karaoke! Certainly this story that I am telling is not new for those living outside their comfort zones in countries with very different cultures, so far away from home. We all have to cope with the differences, and particularities of the country we chose to live in. But another factor that we all share in common is the reason or reasons that keeps us here; it might be a job, a conviction, a group of people, or in my case, all of the above!

Although being challenged every day is a constant, it is one of the things that I really appreciate. It just forces me to keep strong and realize that I can do it, that the process of adaptation can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be. Also, being here has showed me how irrelevant the concept of time is; at the end it is more important what you do with the time given. And that is exactly what I most treasure in this on going adventure; the Reef-World team has taken my abilities and not only made me realize, in the most humble way, that they are there; but also make me capable of doing things that I never thought of. In just twelve months they have helped me to grow professionally and personally, helping me to reach new levels of accomplishments in my life. For that and everything else, I will be forever grateful.




Many more colours than 'just green'

Many more colours than 'just green'


As time passes by Green Fins keep unveiling its many colours to me; just like a prism, refracting light to those who want to receive it. I can go back in time and remember the way Chloë explained her life adventure with Green Fins, I could see in her eyes the passion behind it and how it easily got in her heart. That was not the only time I perceived this, as I immersed myself within the network and more people came in my way, I could identify that same shimmer in their eyes. It became a constant.

I can proudly say that I am now part of the network of conservationists empowered by the strength and diversity of the initiative. With every experience, a new colour is displayed. Initially working with the ‘sea guardians’, all those people within the diving community who live their lives in direct contact with the sea, the ones that most evidently need healthy oceans. This group of people empowered me and showed me how important is to clearly listen and understand their troubles/ needs in order to make our daily job more valuable.

This year, a new colour emerged. We had the chance to participate in ICRI’s International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium, ITMEMS 5. We were there, maybe the youngest group amongst the crowd, ready to impart one of the sessions. It was a big personal challenge, we had a crowd of professionals in marine conservation from all over the world ready to listen what we had to say.


Fortunately, everything was a success and again it was evident how in just one day the Green Fins philosophy went directly into their hearts. Many of the participants left ready to implement the materials on their locations, talk to national authorities, do whatever needed to get Green Fins to their countries and start working towards a change.

This experience goes beyond the concepts of ‘Bottom-up | Top-down’, it entails human relations, and most importantly human relations with the marine environment. As you dive into the Green Fins initiative, you notice that it is not only ‘greener’ on the other side.

Designing marine conservation

Designing marine conservation

  During my Master’s program I was the subject of constant questioning on how my previous professional development, in design and communications, and my current chosen program, of Sustainable Natural Resource Management, could interact with each other. During the ‘weak’ days it really made me question if I was making the right decision, but certainly, for the majority of times, it just reinforced the reason why I was there.

What took me into this new endeavour was the urge to make a difference. I wanted to develop a career that provided a meaning and an impact. This was just a platform that could help me combine my aptitudes and interests; it didn’t matter if people understood how. Every time they questioned me it just made it clearer for me. I knew that design, communications and creative thinking have a big reach, whether it made “sense” or not.

Determined to transform my work into something that means more, I made the decision. And so, I eventually stumbled upon a Charity that needed me as much as I needed them. That was of course Reef-World, offering me the job that perfectly embodied everything I tried to explain back in UPEACE.


Life brought me to this fabulous group of professionals that challenge me every single day to become better. And is now my quest, as an official staff member of the team, to create that demand for creative thinking in the niche of conservation whilst bringing that extra asset to the team.

About a year ago, doing research, I stumbled upon a very interesting and assertive article under the title “Five Skills Designers Have That Global Development Needs”. I immediately felt identified, and now I can see the opportunities Reef-World is giving me to further develop my skills. Reef-World works with an amazing platform for empowerment, the Green Fins initiative. It benefits all of those involved, from operations, implementation and the actual network.


From my perspective I can see how it gives me the opportunity to get close to the people who make it real, understanding them and their needs. The more I immerse myself into the Green Fins initiative, the more I look towards what can be done and improved.

“The key to better policy, better products, and better public services is rooted in understanding of the key players and what motivates them.”

At the same time, by understanding the people, I get the opportunity to create capacity, empowering these people to make a difference and by giving access to tools that will improve their lives. It is very comforting to realize that by enhancing my own skills, I am at the same time improving someone else’s life and while at the same time having a positive impact on the environment.

This experience just re assures that thinking outside the box, being frowned upon, is actually positive when you know you are following your true instincts and beliefs. I now have a big challenge in front of me, looking forward to see how it changes me and those around me.