Rabin Canuzo, Mr. Earth Philippines, tells us his story as an environmental advocate.
1. How did your story start as an environmental advocate?
Hi, I’m Rabin F. Canuzo from Laurel, Batangas. I grew up in a house beside Lake Taal and it’s such a wonderful feeling to see its awe-inspiring view every day. As time went by, I starting to realize how polluted our lake was.
The lake has given me and my family not only happy memories but also shelter, food, and income. Just like us, a lot of people rely on the lake and it is our duty to give back and take care of it.
Since I don’t have enough background to begin with, I’ve been joining organizations like JCI (Junior Chamber International) and other activities that will expand my knowledge and also boost my confidence as an environmental advocate.
I also became active in coastal cleanups and met inspiring people along the way like Ms. Antoinette Taus who’s known for being an advocate of The Global Goals for Sustainable Development and also the founder of the organization called CORA.
I’m starting to see myself on the right path which inspired me to go the extra mile by competing in the Mister Earth Philippines pageant. This was a great platform for me to learn and to also share what I know. Thankfully, I won the pageant and it has been a roller coaster ride for me ever since. God is really good!
2. How do you advocate for conservation through what you do?
I’m a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Tourism. Besides traveling and being Mister Earth, I have a passion for arts and it eventually became my day job. I work as a corporate layout artist in Club Balai Isabel Resort in Talisay, Batangas. My work is a combination of these things; Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Sustainability. The resort is advocating for saving Lake Taal and has been doing green practices. I’m lucky to be appointed to handle the marketing of our green efforts.
Through visual arts, I communicate awareness for our environment.
I currently advocate for Goal 14 of the SDGs which is Life Below Water.
Experts say that the Philippines is the third-worst polluter into the world’s oceans and it’s alarming! Think about the marine life and the people that will be affected by it. Have you seen that video on facebook of a crying sea turtle where they pulled a plastic straw out of its nose? That really made me sad.
4. Can you share one experience that made an impact on how you viewed nature and our role in it?
The marine and dive camp by DENR Agos was my first skindiving experience in Anilao. I grew up in the province of Batangas but I haven’t explored many of its beaches. I was so excited about the activity because it was going to be my first encounter with the coral reefs.
Skindiving wasn’t easy at first but when I got the hang of it, I was swimming like a merman. I went deeper to see the corals, and that’s when I noticed how pale and white they were. I was expecting the corals to be colorful like the photos I saw on the internet. But due to the change in ocean temperature, pollution, overexposure to sunlight, and extreme low tides, they became bleached.
It scared me knowing that our beautiful coral reefs can soon disappear; it will affect the biodiversity of the ocean. While skindiving, instead of me picking up shells, I was picking up trash, and from then on I became an advocate in saving our oceans. Seeing the environmental issues with your own eyes can truly change your perspective in life.
5. What’s the future of conservation for you and how can people participate?
Conservation is our hope for a sustainable future.
We only have one planet and we should do our part in conserving it before it’s too late. We can all participate by lessening our carbon footprint; refusing single-use plastics, riding a bike or carpooling, and eating less meat. Have that “Low Impact Lifestyle” or “Zero Waste Lifestyle. These are some of the things that we can do to help conserve our resources.