Saturday, February 5, 2011

True Beauty Goes Deep

Founded in 1863, the California Academy of Sciences is as prestigious as it can get. The museum was rebuilt and carefully tucked beneath the grounds of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. In its aim to discover, study, and inspire to make our world a better place to live in, the Academy has put together all the best of nature under one roof, including our very own "Philippine Coral Reefs."

For those of us who are marooned in America, this is the closest we can get to viewing the beauty that runs deep in the waters of the Philippines. An aquarium that is 25 feet deep and holding 212,000 gallons of water, it is one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world. On its wall is written, "Take a moment to immerse yourself in the splendor, then imagine a world without this beauty."

However, there is a sad reality to this story. An international group of "reef doctors" said that only five percent of the country's coral reefs are in excellent condition. These are the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park in Palawan, Apo Island in Negros Oriental, Apo Reef in Puerto Galera, Mindoro, and Verde Island Passage off Batangas. Imagine the ripple effect that it sends to the rest of the Coral Triangle.

The sadder truth is that people are not aware or simply do not care. In my case, it had to take the death of Dr. Gerry Ortega to see the wisdom behind the exhibit that I ogled at inside the California Academy of Sciences last summer.

As he went about his day in one of the used clothing shacks in Palawan, a man pointed a gun to his head and shot him point-blank. It was all because he cared and spoke about the dangers posed by large scale mining to the very fragile environment of the place Jacques Yves Costeau called "The Last Frontier."

True beauty goes deep.

Log in to register your vote to and help spread the link:
Ten Million Signature Campaign to Stop Mining in Palawan.

Slide show: Corals movie clip from the California Academy of Sciences, Gerry Ortega photos from Charie Villa, and music "Depths of Winter" by Roy Todd.

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