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Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

Save Philippine Seas' executive director and co-founder Anna Oposa is synonymous with resilience, environmental conservation, and passion—all things Body Party is about. That’s why she and her wonderful work with Save Philippine Seas is the perfect manifestation of what it means to be a Woman of Tomorrow.

Save Philippine Seas is a a non-stock, non-profit organization that aims to narrow the gap between scientists and the general public, the old and young, and the passionate and indifferent by mobilizing seatizen-led initiatives that are empowering Filipinos towards collective action and behavior change.

So we sat down with Anna and talked about her inspirations, vision, and what drives her to be a true Woman of Tomorrow.

What inspired you to be an advocate of the Philippine Seas?

My dad is an environmental lawyer, so I grew up exposed to environmental issues and injustice. In college, I volunteered for an underwater cleanup only because we'd be exempted from final exams if we did. It served as an eye-opener because I picked up so many pieces of plastics and other non-biodegradable items. I started becoming more active in the advocacy by co-founding a campaign at the University of the Philippines and volunteering for my dad's NGO.

When I graduated from college in 2011, I didn't know what I wanted to do. While I was job-hunting and traveling, I was alerted about a massive illegal wildlife trade case that involved turtles, shells, and other protected species. I was angry and frustrated, and found like-minded people online. That became the start of Save Philippine Seas, which back then was just supposed to be a social media movement. Nearly eight years later, I'm still here, and so is SPS.

What keeps you going?

The same reasons why I started: witnessing environmental issues and injustice, being angry and frustrated, and finding like-minded people.

The Philippines is at the center of biodiversity in the world, but it's also at the epicenter of adversity. We need to change the narrative of our country for ourselves and for future generations.

I love this country to the core of my bones, and I want to honor that by working really, really hard at my job.

Most people don’t see the environment, or anything beyond them as their responsibility. In what ways can you encourage others to participate/or to be involved?

We need a shift in perspective: being an "environmentalist" isn't just about being part of an NGO, volunteering for a cleanup, or rallying against companies and government agencies; it's about the right to fresh air, clean water, food security, and an environment we can live and thrive in. If we see environmentalism as that, then EVERYONE has to be an environmentalist. Environmentalism is in the daily choices we make, like refusing or minimizing single-use plastics, making informed food choices, less consumerism, etc. There are many ways to be involved, and they don't always need to be broadcasted on social media or involve major sacrifices.

In your Save PH Seas journey, what is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

Wow, this is a hard question. Nakaka-soulsearch 'to ah.

I've learned that there are a lot of people who want to do something good, but we need to create platforms for it and make the advocacy more approachable and relatable. That's how I see SPS - as a platform for seatizen-led initiatives for collective action and behavior change.

Any other quotes/statements that you want to impart?

Youth are not the leaders of tomorrow - they too can be leaders of today if we give them the right opportunities and help them build their skills.

Finally, how do you see the future of Save PH Seas?

I see a future with a mixed-income model, because our current fundraising initiatives are not sustainable and fundraising is getting exhausting. My vision is for SPS to be a platform for people to feel empowered, that they can make an impact in their communities using the toolkits and resources we've created.

Learn more about Save Philippine Seas and their efforts here:

Photos by Tarish Zamora