Shortly after their last activity during the Pangasinan fieldwork, some delegates of the Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) Philippines Study Abroad Program (PhilSAP) shared some of their most memorable experiences.

For Sarah Chong, Alejandra Padilla, Eunice Gonzalez and Selena Infante, the mangrove and giant clam observations were very interesting because their first-time experiences were assisted by Museum of Natural History. As biology students, they appreciated the way the fieldworks were conducted.

Sarah Chong said, “I think it was actually a good job because it was very interactive first and foremost and it was first-hand so you really see the giant clams and the mangroves”. Alejandra Padilla also agreed by saying “I wish we could’ve spent more time”.

The visit to the Mangrove Propagation and Information Center was an additional experience for the students as they have already encountered a mangrove forest in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. But this time, the delegates were shown propagated seeds that will soon be planted to help in strengthening the mangrove area’s capacity to serve as breakers during typhoons.

When the students were asked about their thoughts regarding this, Selena Infante said that people behind these efforts have all her respects because not all people nowadays would care about the environment the same way they care about everything else. Eunice Gonzalez was also saddened by the fact that lesser people now visit the mangrove eco-park than before when it was used to be a passageway to the sea. Because of this, lesser people will be able to know and appreciate the mangroves. And as a response to that, Selena said, “The ignorance doesn’t help the mangroves get protected.”

Sarah and Alejandra both suggested that information should be better disseminated to both locals because they should know and make actions about this campaign. Only then will the people coming from far places, like tourists, would also be interested in taking part in the conservation efforts. Selena Infante said that it is important that the benefits the people will get from mangroves will be emphasized because she admitted that some people are only interested in what will give them profit.

The students were also able to tackle about the lack of funds for these campaigns especially with poor countries that could only cater to the citizen’s primary needs. Environmental concerns are usually not the top priority which shouldn’t be because eventually, these issues would affect people. Eunice Gonzalez also find educating people a powerful tool in raising awareness to these environmental concerns. Selena Infante agreed and further shared that she used to be a Communication student but then she had biology classes with Dr. Ruby Ynalvez and her professor’s passion with the subject inspired her to advocate as well for the betterment of the environment. People with position and power like teachers and government officials who already have enough knowledge about these things should be responsible and open the eyes of students to the things that need to be done aside from merely giving lectures.

The experience with mangroves and the outdoor hatchery of the Marine Science Institute Bolinao Marine Laboratory didn’t just give them first-hand experiences but also gave them powerful insights which they can carry with them and guide them as they pursue the roles they would be playing in the future.

These four students are delegates of the TAMIU PhilSAP which is guided by Drs. Marcus Augustus and Ruby Ynalvez, both professors of the said university. PHILSAP is a month-long program which allows students to gain an interactive learning experience in the tropics. The Museum of Natural History is one of the program’s partners in exploring marine and terrestrial biodiversity including the social issues that arise in Philippines as a country rich in these natural resources. For more details about MNH and PhilSAP’s field activities, please visit the MNH Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UPLBMuseum


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