#SeastainableStories - Je Cawalo, Seastainable Co.


#SeastainableStories is a series Seastainable will be launching to feature amazing ocean conservationists and advocates! We believe that everyone can play a part in contributing to healthier and happier oceans.
The next story we would like to feature is the newest addition to our team, Je Cawalo. She works with our Seastainable grantees and communicates with our customers and seapporters.  Read on to find out more! 
My name is Jerica Marie Cawalo, you can call me Je! I am currently working as the Conservations & Communication Manager at Seastainable Co. I started my interest in marine life way back in college as I was taking up Bachelor of Science in Biology. That interest turned into an advocacy when I joined the YSEALI SEA Camp Boracay in 2016. As the newest addition to the team, let me share my few insights on conservation and how it has been working with the team for the past few months. Read my story below.
What do you think is important in pursuing conservation?
Grit and optimism are very important in pursuing conservation. Grit, as defined by author Angela Duckworth, is the combination of passion and perseverance, while optimism as defined by Winston Churchill is seeing the opportunity in every difficulty.
With the pressing environmental issues worldwide, we tend to be overwhelmed and may even go astray as we try to approach these problems. People around you would even drag you down and convince you that this battle is a hopeless case. This can really affect our mindset. Personally, I believe that in conservation, passion without perseverance is a sheer emotion for a certain goal. We would always want to do something, but conservation just like any other journeys would have rough roads and these may eventually persuade you to give up. But passion with perseverance and optimism, we can continue this arduous journey. Knowing that environmental issues are multi-faceted and need approach from various stakeholders, we cannot guarantee its easy path to solution. We will have some setbacks and failures along the way. But with these important traits, we can pursue conservation more effectively. 
How did you join the Seastainable Team? What is your current work?
One of the perks of being an alumna or merkid of Save Philippine Seas’ (SPS’) Sea and Earth’s Advocates (SEA) Camp is having a healthy community of like-minded people in conservation. With the continuous support to SPS of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), SEA Camp had gone from a national to a regional program.
 
I joined the national (Philippines) SEA Camp in 2016, while Gab joined in 2017 wherein I was a facilitator at that time. Meanwhile, Sam participated in the Regional SEA Camp in 2018. Years and miles apart from these different batches, we have networking opportunities through SPS and YSEALI. I first connected with Sam when Seastainable started sponsoring scholars from the project I was managing, the A-B-Seas Camp. Then who would have thought that just this year, Sam was looking for a Conservation and Communications Officer through our Merkids Facebook page, so I applied and got accepted.
Being in Seastainable Co. is one of the best decisions so far and a challenging one, too. Joining the team last July, I started handling the customer inquiries and orders, product feedbacks, and talks and events scheduling. I also manage the Seastainable grants from vetting to implementation of the grantee. I’m still in awe knowing people who are willing to switch to sustainable lifestyle and at the same time support our cause to support marine conservation. At the same time, it is also inspiring to meet (virtually) and work with people across Southeast Asia who are making waves of change in their communities through Seastainable grants. Working in Seastainable has been rewarding for me, since day 1.
What is your advice to people who want to pursue a career in conservation, but may not have the ‘conservation’ eg science/research related background?
During our SEA Camp, one of our mentors, Dr. AA Yaptinchay of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines said, “Conservation is not a career, rather it is a way of life.” Looking around the hall with my seablings (co-participants), I realized that we are all indeed from different walks of life. I am from a science background, but other seablings were not, yet they had been doing splendid works in the field of conservation.
So, at that moment, I realized that we all have a part in this field and journey of conservation. That working in the field of conservation does not only need the knowledge in science and research. It needs the arm of social sciences to understand the people, economy, and government that is greatly affected by the state of the environment. Thus, it just shows how conservation needs people of various professions and not just from sciences. You need not to be insecure or feel inferior. With the ease of access to academic data and resources, you can supplement your scientific knowledge and research more to bridge the gap. And if you want to go further, go enrol in a university. We must embrace this kind of diversity in professions for a more effective approach. We must not let these differences hinder us from taking a part in conservation.
A piece of advice you would like to give to our readers about the future of our planet?
With the pressing and depressing environmental issues we are facing, we need to be more  optimistic in facing these problems. We have to work with grit on our search for potential solutions.
Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I’ve been juggling a full-time work in the Philippines and with Seastainable Co. and has been taking my Masters in Environment and Natural Resources Management at the University of Philippines Open University. Being as hectic as it seems to be, IT IS INDEED and challenging, too! But, being a fan of Samantha’s works and ethics, I learned a lot on how to manage these. Working with Gab has given me a helping hand in adjusting as she has been working with Seastainable since its early days. In general, I consider all these as an avenue of opportunity for me to learn more and to develop my personal skills. And last August, just 2 months with Seastainable, I was given another learning opportunity to be one of the delegates of the YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues and Natural Resources Management in the United Sates of America. It has been such a wonderful experience especially with the Seastainable team supporting me all the way on taking such a big step.

Leave a comment