Katia Kalyani is the founder of Ocean Hour Philippines, the world’s first international weekly clean-up of Philippine waters. She started out as a volunteer for Ocean Hour, invited family members and friends to join and eventually encouraged businesses to support their cause. She currently organizes clean-ups, writes about the results and observations and shares updates to their followers. Katia also takes photographs of the sea. According to Katia, “That’s the way Ocean Hour works – you start it yourself, wherever and whoever you are and it begins to work.”
Which 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Open-minded. Passionate. Adventurous.
What made you start caring about the seas?
I always respected the ocean and loved it but seeing it infested with rubbish made me uncomfortable. It felt wrong. I picked up the first piece of rubbish and never stopped. Today wherever I am, I find myself joining local ocean-protecting activities.
What do you find most challenging about the work that you do?
I suppose it’s not getting frustrated. The situation with waste management in the Philippines is without doubt critical and is already affecting natural stability of the archipelago and threatening the wellbeing of the whole Pacific. If the situation is so critical today with very little being done to change it, what is to happen tomorrow?
What is the most rewarding part of the work that you do?
It’s feeling gratitude from the ocean. Once you start doing it, it’s impossible to stop because you can feel that gratitude – be it from the ocean itself or from your own heart.
Aside from Ocean Hour, what else would you do to help save the seas & beaches of the Philippines?
I think if every one of us started doing just one little thing to save the ocean, the world would become a different place. I don’t have any ambition to widen my activities. As a person who is not indifferent to my environment, I will simply do what I can. Perhaps years from now I will still be picking rubbish on the beach, wherever I go.
What would you advise Filipinos do to save the seas? Why should they help save our seas?
Buy whole, package-free foods. Shop with reusable bags. Minimize waste by reusing your plastic items. Educate your children about littering. Volunteer at local beach clean-ups or organize your own.
(Interview by Mikee Garcia)