Jessie is a long-time Bantay Dagat and program coordinator of the Calatagan-based Conserve and Protect Oceans (CAPoceans) Foundation Training Center. He has contributed to over 10 years of coastal and marine protection efforts in the area. He’s so serious about his job that he keeps an eye out even for litterbugs in the sea and makes them pick up their trash right out of the water. One of Jessie’s new initiatives is the “SAFE-Calatagan Kids” program, which aims to teach local kids how to appreciate and protect their marine resources. If you are interested in supporting the program, please check out //on.fb.me/149NRdF
How would you describe yourself?
Protector of the Sea
What do you like best about the seas?
Colorful reefs, Mammals, Sea Turtles
How did you decide on the role you’re doing now? Why do you care about the seas?
Dahil ako’y anak ng mangingisda. Ilalaban ko ang karagatan hangga’t ako’y may hininga.
English translation: I am the son of a fisherman. As long as I live, I will keep fighting for the seas.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do?
As Bantay Dagat, daming pasaway sa laot na iba talaga ang kanilang katuwiran, basta’t may isda ani lang ng ani, bahala na daw bukas. Fish Examiner need talaga mag-aral ng todo at maging honest sa loob ng court.
English translation: There are many locals who are self-righteous and believe that as long as they can find fish, they will keep harvesting and leave tomorrow to chance. As guardians of the sea, we really need to keep studying and be honest in the courts.
What is the most rewarding part of the work you do?
Yong makita ang mga narescue namin na nakabalik sa dagat, tulad ng mga pawikan, dolphins, whaleshark, Bryde’s Whale ilan lang ang mga ito sa mga na release namin na very successful. Yong may babati sayo na “ikaw po ba si Jessie Delos Reyes? Opo, bakit po? ah, Sir maraming salamat po. Saan po? dumami na po ulit huli naming isda, dahil po iyon sa inyong pagbabantay ng ating karagatan dito sa ating Bayan.” hahahaha, napaluwa naman ako nong time na yon, at bilang namapayakap sa taong nagsabi ng maraming salamat sa Bantay Dagat.
English translation: Whenever we release back to the sea the different animals that we rescue, like sea turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, Bryde’s whale. Those are just some that we have successfully released. Also when someone recognizes me and thanks me for protecting the sea in our town, they tell me that my efforts is the reason why they can catch many fish again. That made me cry and I hugged the person who thanked the Bantay Dagat.
What would you advise Filipinos do to save the seas?
Ang pangangalaga ng kalikasan/Karagatan ay obligasyon ng bawat Filipino, hindi dahilan ang antas ng edukasyon, o mahirap man o mayaman, ito’y tungkulin ng bawat isa, Hinding sabihin na kayo lang muna, ang Kailangan ngayon, ay tayong lahat ay mangalaga ng Kalikasan dahil ito ang ating TAHANAN – HOME. Why should they help save our seas? Dahil bawat isa’y magkakaugnay, ito’y buhay natin, ano man ang mangyari sa karagatan, ang susunod na aaray ay sambayanan.
English translation: The protection of our seas is the obligation of each Filipino. It doesn’t have anything to do with your education level, whether you’re poor or rich, it is the duty of each one of us. You can’t leave it to just a few people to do it. We need to do this now, all of us should protect the environment because it is our home. Why help save our seas? Because we are connected to the sea, it is our source of life. Whatever happens to the sea, the effects will be felt by society.
(Interviewed by Nix Nicolas)