I was born in the Philippines and was raised on the island of Cebu until I was 11 years old. Like every islander, my family and I always frequented the beach which was a short ride away from where we lived. I took those opportunities to be so close to the water for granted. I have seen dolphins up close while we rode the ferries from island to island. I have seen iguanas climbing up the coconut trees just outside my home. We stopped at markets on the road that sold fresh seafood. Until we moved to the United States, the fish we ate was never frozen.

In school, they taught us how they used dynamites to catch fish. Not only did I think that was appalling, I was also concerned about the other animals that lived in the ocean – whales, sharks, the coral reefs, and how the chemicals in those explosives were affecting our diet. I was already a “tree hugger” before I even learned the word. I watched a documentary about sharks and how they were being hunted aggressively for food and because, well, they’re sharks and their reputation. After that documentary, I cried. I cried over sharks because no one wanted to save them and I was the only who understood why sharks are important to the ecosystem. I was 12 years old and that’s when I wanted to learn more about the planet, about how we’re all connected in one way or another. I signed up for art contests about environmental awareness. I wrote a detailed report on The Voyage of The Mimi in 6th grade and my science teacher showed everyone my paper as an example of a well-written report.

A part of me has always wanted to work in animal biology. I wanted to work in a zoo or even work as a marine biologist at one point, but I had a different calling. I continue to immerse myself in environmental causes by reading articles, watching documentaries, and as much as possible, educate others about how the planet needs to be taken care of for the next generation because this is home and we belong here. My children have been taught to respect every single living being…bugs, plants, rocks…you name it. They know that we are part of a circle; a hoop that never ends (says Pocahontas from the Disney movie).

In my current career, as a graphic designer and an office manager, it’s my responsibility to make sure that at work we try to keep our waste to a minimum. Instead of printing so many flyers and brochures, I lead people to view our marketing collateral online or I send them electronic copies by email. When I worked at one of the biggest hospitality companies in the world, I introduced web meetings to my staff to cut down on travel costs but also at the same time, reducing our carbon footprint by not depending too much on planes, trains, and automobiles. My staff successfully conducted meetings over the web and able to finish their projects without traveling so often. I convinced my supervisor that instead of printing out our guidelines and process guides, that they be uploaded to USB drives or put them in a server where consultants could access them whenever they needed. We saved money and paper without exposing proprietary information to potential viruses and hackers. Eventually, other departments followed suit and I’m proud to say that I made that happen.

I look forward to working with everyone here at WFCRC and contributing my talent and knowledge to this organization. I am so excited to find out what I could accomplish and learn at the same time.