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On the beach at Talim Bay

Talim Bay, Lian, Batangas- My research takes me to look into some beach dwelling snails and crabs that could indicate the first signs of environmental change. We are developing rapid ways of detecting and diagnosing this change.

In recent years, environmental scientists have been asked to become medical doctors for the biggest patient, planet Earth! Unlike the patients of pediatricians and vets , my patient can't talk cry or bark, hiss or meow. So I have to listen and try to see what ails her.

To those wags who think PhDs are not real "doctors", I say that I have become a doctor in the original and fullest sense. Too bad there isn't any drug company that gives me freebies and golfing junkets! BTW I am also a fish doctor!

Seriously people begin to notice something's wrong with the planet when something big dies. A Brydes whale washed ashore in nearby Nasugbu town. The beached whale attracted media attention but it need not take an biggie iconic species like a whale to make the point. One of the tiny snails we believe may react adversely to solid waste is enough to bring home the point.

And the kids and tourists on the beach immediately got the idea. A balikbayan from Canada asked me if there is hope. Of course there is! Then I pointed at the schoolkids watching what we were doing.

Solid waste on beaches is a major problem for coastal communities. It spares no one. The poorest barangay gets its share as well as the affluent gated communities developed by well known real estate developers based in Makati.

BTW I read about this newspaper columnist Malu Fernandez from Manila Standard who was forced by the paper to quit after writing nasty things about Pinoy domestic workers and other workers.

Well, I hate to say this. She is in the same boat as them. I am too. I have learned a lot about what it means to be a Filipino in numerous airport waiting lounges, on immigration queues, at check-in counters, on board a ship, and on Singapore's Lucky Plaza and Hong Kong's Victoria Square.

If she had the sense to listen to their stories and not sniff at the cologne people were wearing she would have come out as better person and more Pinoy.


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