In 2012, I was fortunate enough to have boarded M/Y Navorca, WWF's Research Vessel in Tubbataha and Apo Reefs. I was there for an expedition with Kara David of GMA and Atom Araullo of ABS-CBN to document Tubbataha and learn about Cebu Pacific's Bright Skies program with WWF.
It was a great learning experience to know how the value and we can really take care of the environment, especially our marine wonders. So when I heard about M/Y Navorca being transformed into a sea classroom, I can't help but be happy about it because now, educators can learn first hand the value and process of environment conservation.
The M/Y Navorca, the Philippine research vessel of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), was transformed into a floating classroom for a day. Moored at Palawan’s Puerto Princesa Bay, the 80-foot wood-and-fibreglass vessel was acquired in 2008 and refurbished with state-of-the-art navigation, communications and research equipment through the help of the Grieg Shipping Group, Grieg Foundation and WWF-Norway.
“This is the first time we turned the Navorca into a field classroom,” says WWF-Philippines Environmental Educator Ruel Bate, part of the team which conducted the Education is Adaptation workshop for 30 Puerto Princesa-based teachers and school administrators last 27 June. “Talking about a coral reef is far different from showing students one. Showing, rather than telling, makes it easier to understand real-world applications.”
The floating classroom played host to three talks. Ship captain Ronald de Roa taught a class on renewable energy technologies, proudly showing off the ship’s solar panels and micro-wind turbines, which supply the vessel with free, zero-emissions electricity.
Jeric Dejucos from the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) showed teachers how to craft digital maps of coral reefs plus other marine habitats. Using GoPro cameras and advanced photo-stitching technology, the government-led Automated Rapid Reef Assessment System or ARRAS was instrumental in assessing the twin grounding scars incurred by the Tubbataha Reefs in 2013. Three teachers were particularly proud, for Jeric was their former student.
WWF boat crewmen Arnel Escobin and Jun Magbanua led the final group, who snorkelled at Mag-asawang Bato, a coral reef and future Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the outskirts of Puerto Princesa. Grey skies broke to pour sheets of rain before lunch, an opportunity taken by WWF to teach residents of nearby Barangay Mangingisda how to harvest rainwater – leaving behind 10 plastic drums before returning to the M/Y Navorca.
“Our goal is to educate not just students – but the teachers themselves,” explains WWF-Philippines Environmental Educator Maye Padilla. “Concrete experiences like today’s fishing community visit shall make it easy for educators to integrate conservation into their curriculum. Examples for math or science lessons can be skewed towards the environment. This makes learning less theoretical and more progressive.”
The daylong session was the culmination of a two-day Environmental Life Skills (ELS) workshop supported by the Department of Education, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) and Grieg Star. Additional visits shall train educators from other Palawan towns. Says Grieg Star Group Representative Jannicke Steen, “Together with WWF, we have been inculcating environmental education lessons into our ship cadet’s classes since 2011. We wanted to bring our work to coastal communities, who are true stewards of the sea.”
Before sunset, the floating classroom returned to port, discharging 30 new environmental educators.