Meet our scholars! Each LAMAVE research project has at least one Filipino Scholar who is sponsored to join our team. These are our amazing LAMAVE Scholars! This time we hear from Jalica Dealca who is currently working with our whale shark research team in Donsol. Here’s what the Filipina conservationist had to share with us…
1. Where is home?
I was born in Pangpang, Sorsogon City, studied high school in Goa, Camarines Sur and college in Diliman, Quezon City, and have been working in Taguig City. All of these are home to me. More than a place, home is a feeling of comfort, where you could be yourself or better. Home is my family, my closest friends, my better half, my better half’s family. DP CRM is home. OBMNL is home. Binukbok is home. My support group is home. The ocean is home. And now, LAMAVE is home, too.
2. Why are you excited to be working with LAMAVE?
Volunteering for LAMAVE is an opportunity to give back, learn, and discover. When I searched for LAMAVE Philippines before I started, what stood out were feedback about how purpose-driven the organization is. LAMAVE is purpose-driven indeed as this organization has the purest intentions for marine conservation through public awareness and research. It gave me a deeper understanding of conserving marine wildlife. Being with this organization made me more excited about what more it can accomplish and unearth, especially with whale sharks. Alongside this, I have experienced different cultures, learned different languages and accents (“woh-dah” = water, Achoti!, Oulala vive la France!, Bonjour! Je m’appelle Jal.), and gained knowledge and new friends from around the globe.
3. Best LAMAVE moment so far?
Every day has been memorable as a LAMAVE volunteer, but one moment was more than unforgettable. It was both breathtaking and surreal. I was doing my photo ID for the last hour session of whale shark interaction when I realized that I was suddenly surrounded by several whale sharks. I was doing an ID shot of one whale shark and then, when I turned, there were a couple more around me. Six whale sharks surrounded me. SIX. WHALE SHARKS. That moment was amazing and whale sharks are indeed beautiful, gentle creatures. Some of them were more playful than the others. Every moment in the ocean with a whale shark is a memory for keeps, more so, a moment with six whale sharks! That was one of the best five seconds of my life, and to LAMAVE I would be grateful forever.
4. One moment/experience/idea that made you want to get involved with marine conservation?
I have always been thankful for every opportunity to see the beauty of the ocean. I have only been diving in Philippine seas and have been in awe of their majesty. I want my children, the children of my children, and future generations to also see the beauty the ocean has to bring. I want them to live with the ocean that I have come to know, if not better. However, I have also seen how marine wildlife suffers. People need to be aware of the future of our marine life. If I could let them see how beautiful life underwater is and show how humans are affecting marine life at the same time, perhaps people will start to get more involved. What drives me to pick up trash in the ocean and be more conscious about the amount of waste I produce are the images of a turtle with a straw stuck inside its nostrils, a dead whale with plastic-filled gut, and dying corals covered in sacks. The more people see, the more I hope for them to become concerned.
5. One thing every Filipino can do for ocean conservation?
To care a little bit more is what I think all can do. I believe that the drive for conservation starts with compassion. People need to understand that the earth can survive without people, but not the other way around. When the earth suffers, humans suffer. Small, simple actions can have great impacts. I think if we will care more, people will start to be more aware and will consider the use of eco-friendly alternatives eventually. Imagine the number of marine animals saved from dying from plastics by avoiding the use of plastic bags, plastic bottles, and other plastics such as straws. These are some of the materials that people can do without because there are existing alternatives, such as eco-bags and tumblers. It would be great to see every Filipino care more for the ocean and challenge themselves towards a lesser (to zero) waste lifestyle, saying YES to reusables and NO to disposables.
6. Dream/Future job?
I dream to work for a company/organization that gives back. I’m not too particular with the nature of work, as long as it supports the principles I believe in. I would love to be a part of an organization that can make a difference through marine conservation efforts.
If you are interested in becoming a LAMAVE scholar, please follow our Facebook page for updates and you can find out more about our field projects at https://www.facebook.com/lamaveproject