13-year old student, Christel Erin Lejano, rocked the boat at her school when she bravely tried to convince facilitators and teachers to stop a field trip to Ocean Adventure. Despite being warned that she might get expelled if she doesn’t back off, Christel continued to tell her classmates what she learned about dolphin captivity from the documentary “The Cove”. Although the field trip still pushed through yesterday, her message has now taken root among her peers.
Let’s get to know Christel better!
Which 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
God-fearing, goal-oriented, and awesome (also because I like the word haha)
What do you like best about the seas?
At a young age, I learned how to scuba dive. By this, I got to see and, of course, appreciate the amazing marine life. What I like best about the seas are the coral reefs because there are a lot of different sea creatures, especially animals in one area.
What made you start caring about the seas?
The mere experience of being underwater and spending my time with marine life.
Why did you campaign against the school field trip to Ocean Adventure?
Actually, I didn’t really “campaign”. I just spread the word to my peers and teachers for them to open their eyes, minds, and hearts. What motivated me to do this was, of course, The Cove and my love for dolphins. I didn’t just want to sit there and do nothing when I knew the truth and knew that something should be done about it so I spread the word.
How did your friends/teachers initially react when you started your “campaign”?
My friends supported me all throughout and I’m very lucky to have them. Without them, this probably wouldn’t have happened. I really give my thanks. For my teachers, they were glad to learn about my advocacy and I would also like to thank them for the help and support. These people are without a doubt awesome and I would like to thank them again for being proud of me 🙂
We heard that the school trip still pushed through. How did you deal with that? Did you join it anyway?
Yeah, it still pushed through. I still joined the field trip for the other destinations and for our class grade as well. I just didn’t watch the dolphin show. It was definitely heartbreaking to see, that’s why I just stayed downstairs and waited for it to finish. I wouldn’t have had survived this trip without my friends. I would like to thank them and my teachers, for the concern and care they showed.
Despite the school trip pushing through, would you say that your “campaign” was successful? Whether yes or no, please explain why.
I would say that it was successful because even if the field trip pushed through, a number of people are now open and aware of it. That was the objective of my advocacy – to open the minds of the people.
What would you advise Filipinos do to save the seas? Why should they help save our seas?
We should help save the seas because if we don’t start today, none of it will exist tomorrow. We can save in many simple ways – in regularly participating or joining ocean clean-ups and coral restorations, etc.
(Interviewed by Nix Nicolas)