Gameplan: La Union beach festival makes pitch to save our seas

Human Nature, together with Save Philippine Seas, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), pawikan conservation group CURMA, and La Union Soul worked together to send out an important message through the SOS Coastival in San Juan, La Union.

"SOS stands for save our seas, save our species, and save our skins. It's a community effort to send out the message that we can have fun this summer, hopefully not at the expense of our environment," explained Anna Meloto-Wilk, founder of social enterprise Human Nature.

Unlike other beach festivities, SOS Coastival was a 100% plastic- and styrofoam-free event. It featured hourly beach cleanups, musical performances, yoga, poi, and capoeira lessons. The festival also aimed to create the biggest sand art in the Philippines with the help of environmental artist AG Saño.

"Nilagay po namin isang malaking SOS (We created sand art saying 'SOS'), meaning save our seas. We're expecting people to help us out. It's not an artwork of a single person or a single group, but of the community," said AG.

The 180-meter sand art activity was driven by the Filipino spirit of bayanihan. AG started off by outlining the sand with his design. He then instructed everyone to walk around it to create texture and to pour water along the lines to highlight the edges.

"Normally people would say, 'Hindi kami artists' ('We're not artists'), or 'Hindi po kami marunong mag-paint, baka masira lang 'yung artwork' ('We don't know how to paint, we might just destroy the artwork'). So what we do is we, we draw everything. We layout everything. It's like a giant coloring book wherein anyone can help fill in the spaces," AG explained.

This initiative was inspired by the recognition that everyone has a role in protecting and conserving our resources.

"We need to act together. It can't happen overnight and it cannot be done by a single person or just a single group. We need to get as many people involved as possible," said AG.

Gameplan host Graham Caygill also had the same realization after participating in the whole day of activities.

"Bayanihan is about having a sense of community. You're not alone. Everyone should do it. If we help each other out and save our seas, we can make a big difference not just in the Philippines, but worldwide," he shared. –