HEROINE OF THE SEA: Angela Colmenares-Sabino, Earth Island Institute

The amazing thing about Angela, or “Ella”, is how she exudes sincerity and confidence when she talks about being a steward of the environment. Every conversation with her is sure to inspire you to think deeply about your intentions and motivations towards saving the environment.

angela colmenares

1. Which 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Passionate, adventurous, & curious

 2. What do you do to help save the seas?

I handle environmental campaigns for Earth Island Institute Philippines; spread awareness through social networks, publications, schools, and other means; and establish tie-ups with other organizations and grassroots communities for different forms and levels of cooperation.

I also help in the Save Freedom Island Movement campaigns for coastal clean-ups and petition against the impending reclamation projects.

In some of my free time, aside from trying to mold a responsible and environmentally-conscious family. I occasionally write in an online publication to promote environmental awareness and sustainable tourism.

3. Why do you want to help save the seas?

The sea should be of vital interest to all mankind because we all need healthy seas and oceans to survive.  It is not just a source of food, medicine, livelihood and recreation; it generates about half of the oxygen that circulates the planet, absorbs carbon dioxide and reduces the impact of climate change.

Aside from those scientific facts, I’m always fascinated by the sea’s natural beauty. When I was not an environmentalist yet, the sea was always a subject or context of my poems. Coming from a swimmer family, my dad used to take me to the beach to either train or play.

I’ve also been a grassroots organizer in a shoreline community before and I’ve been exposed to indigenous peoples and fisherfolks’ “love story” with the sea. I know how significant the sea is to these people I love, so loving the grassroots is equivalent to loving the source of their lives.

4. What do you find most challenging about the work you do?

Dealing with certain government agencies. They are either ignorant of the environmental aspects of certain issues, not decisive enough to take a stand because of bureaucratic dynamics inside, or they deliberately do what’s wrong to protect certain interests. But that’s still part of our work and somehow it gained a little progress.

5. What is the most rewarding part of the work you do?

When I see more and more people taking stands to protect the environment (not just through their Facebook statuses, but also as warm bodies in environmental actions).

6. What would you advise Filipinos do to save the seas? Why should they help save our seas?

Everybody can contribute [to] saving our seas. Sometimes, it’s better to start small even just within the household through teaching them to minimize our impacts to the environment. From choosing the right household products, having a better waste management, being a responsible tourist, being less consumerist,  etc. – all of that would help. But there are times that we need to collectively stand and put public pressure to assert environmental concerns. We need to collectively do this for the sake of our children’s children.

(Interviewed by Nix Nicolas)


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