Meet Richelle Capangpangan. She's from the small coastal town of San Vicente on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. Like all the townsfolk, she grew up enjoying the bounties of the sea.
Recently, she came to the resort town of El Nido where I am working, and got certified as a PADI Open Water Diver. Her initial reaction upon seeing the great varieties of marine life at our dive sites was how easy it would be to catch the fishes there. After all, she had always thought of them as a means of sustenance.
But gradually, by observing and learning more about our underwater world, she came to realize the importance of protecting our marine environment, in order to ensure its future, and ours.
When I introduced the 10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet to her, she said, "My friends have been asking me why I decided to take up scuba diving, and now I can show them what it means to me, and why we should all do our part."
Someday soon, Richelle will continue her diving education, and perhaps become a PADI pro. She has always loved the sea, but she has fallen in love with it all over again in a completely new way. It's times like this that I'm grateful for the opportunity to affect people's lives in a positive manner, and I hope to keep doing it for a very long time.