Aside from the efforts of government-concerned agencies, the evolution of the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo) concept also included the support of students from various universities. Unknown to many, civil society representatives from Lingkod Bayani, Civika and International Youth Commission have been conducting seminars and workshops dubbed as “Diskursong Teritoryo” to students from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Manila and Los Baños; Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Ateneo De Manila University, and Cebu Technological University. Through these activities, the simple awareness campaign led to a larger concept with students suggesting on the creation of a West Philippine Sea Awareness Month in line with the Philippines gaining its exclusive rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Through time, the WPS Awareness Month has developed. The civil society initially coordinated with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans (OJ7), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in April 2017 to seek for assistance in drafting a document proposing the WPS Awareness Month. The suggested month-long activity was then called Maritime Nation Awareness Month (MaNA Mo) still covering the celebration of the Philippines’ win on the arbitration case against China.
In May 2017, the OJ7, AFP called for a meeting with the National Coast Watch Council Secretariat (Secretariat) to further plan out the said project. During this time, the Secretariat has put on hold its previous program with the Department of Foreign Affairs in coming up with the same concept in celebrating the oceans and seas. The program did not push through due to the changes in the administration in 2016. Meanwhile, the meeting with the AFP provided a new opportunity to celebrate maritime and archipelagic Philippines. The Secretariat later on proposed for the program to be called as the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo) celebrating and providing awareness not only on the West Philippine Sea but all other waters in and out of the country such as the Benham Rise, Tañon Strait, Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, among others.
The Secretariat drafted a proclamation proposing for the MANA Mo and was then concurred on by various maritime-related agencies. Moving forward, on 14 September 2017, the President signed Proclamation No. 316 (s. 2017) declaring the month of September, as the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo). Being the lead agency of this month-long event, the Secretariat was able to consolidate maritime-related activities from all agencies and has been involved in carrying out some of these events.
ORIGIN AND DEFINITION OF MANA
The word MANA Mo is evidently the abbreviation of the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month. The word MANA, however, holds a deeper definition as it comes from an Austronesian language, which means power, effectiveness and authority. In Filipino, the word MANA is something important that is being passed on or inherited and that is needed to be taken care of. Thus, our seas are our Mana of which we are heavenly blessed to possess.
MANA MONTH ACTIVITIES
- MANA Mo Kick Off Ceremony. Regardless of the MANA Mo Proclamation still not being signed during the first two weeks of September, the Secretariat still pushed through in conducting MANA Mo events. On September 4, 2017, the Secretariat led the MANA Mo Kick Off Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting during the Office of the President Flag Raising Ceremony with the Executive Secretary/NCWC Chairperson as the guest speaker. The ceremony was also attended by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense as well as heads and representatives from the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG), Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and Oceana Philippines, among others.
- Pulography Stills and Motions. Culled from the Filipino word “pulo” for island, Pulography activities included exhibit series, film showings, as well as posting of campaign posters and video in agency buildings and billboards for the whole month of September. To begin, the Secretariat conducted a photography exhibit series within the Office of the President which ran from September 4-6, 2017. It was officially launched following the kick off ceremony of the MANA Mo. It showcased images of array of reef fish, corals, algae and other marine life which were all taken during the expedition to the Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the Philippine Rise, in May 2016. The said expedition was participated in by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), University of the Philippines, PCG, PN, and Oceana Philippines.Through the assistance of Oceana Philippines, the same photography exhibit was installed and displayed at the House of Representatives on September 25-27, 2017 and at the International School of Sustainable Tourism Inc., and Harbor Point, both in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Subic, Zambales during the International Coastal Cleanup – Philippines (ICC-PH) Environmental Summit on September 28-29, 2017.Meanwhile, a film showing was also hosted by the Secretariat on September 6, 2017 featuring full length and short films that provided overview of the current situation of our oceans and seas. The screening included the three-part documentary film “Kalayaan”, produced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Presidential Communications Operations Office; “Scubasurero” and “Agos” by the GMA News and Public Affairs; and, Benham Bank – Philippine Legacy for all of Humanity by Oceana Philippines. Further, on September 29, 2017, the ICC-PH featured the film “High Tide” Directed by Tara Illenberger in its film showing for students attending the Environmental Summit in SBMA, Subic, Zambales.During the last week of September, tarpaulin displays were observed to have been posted not only in agency buildings based in Manila but also in provinces such as Zambales and Zamboanga. On the other hand, the MANA Mo Campaign Video was noted to have received a combined 15,000 views; 700 likes and 200 shares in the social media pages of Philippine Embassies in Italy, Lebanon, UAE, Jordan, Egypt and Japan; Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver and Chicago; Philippine Mission to ASEAN and UN in New York, Oceana Philippines, PIA and National Coast Watch System, among many others.Accordingly, the PIA also aided the campaign through radio announcements that reached provinces such as Dagupan, Pangasinan, Naga City, Camarines Sur, and Mega Manila, all in Luzon; Iloilo and Cebu, both in Visayas; and Tagum, Davao del Norte; Digos City and Davao City, Davao del Sur; General Santos; Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental; Bukidnon; Butuan, Agusan; and Iligan, Lanao del Norte, all in Mindanao.
- Bukluran-Bantay Baybayin 01-2017 Field Training Exercise. As part of the MANA Mo Celebration, the National Coast Watch Center also took part in the event through the conduct of an interagency Field Training Exercise (FTX) dubbed as Bukluran Bantay Baybayin 01-2017. In partnership with the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the training was attended by around 400 participants coming from various government agencies such as the AFP, Asian Terminals Inc (ACI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), BFAR, Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Cebu Ports Authority (CPA), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA),PCG, PNP-MG, PN, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).The FTX, conducted in Manila, Cebu and Palawan, aimed at testing and validating the effectiveness of the current concept of operations and capabilities installed for maritime surveillance and response operations. It also focused on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) detection and identification capabilities, improving interagency cooperation, as well as interoperability of participating agencies both at the national and regional level. The FTX was also designed to allow newly designated regional commanders and officers in said locations to familiarize with inter-agency operations and protocols.
- University Forum. The Ateneo de Manila University, in partnership with Lingkod Bayani, NCWC Secretariat, PCG, Metrobank, Topsoldiers, and the AFP held a University Forum entitled “Defending our Future: A Forum on the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise”. The forum aimed to engage students with regard to maritime and archipelagic issues that confront the Philippines with MGEN RESTITUTO PADILLA, JR. AFP as the main speaker. The panel of reactors included Dr. Cecilia Noble of Lingkod Bayan; Dr. Cora Claudio of Management Association of the Philippines; and, Mr. Lorenzo Pangilinan, Ateneo student.
- SEA-EX 2017 Conference Workshop. In partnership with Headsail Philippines, the Secretariat successfully conducted the SEA-EX 2017 Conference Workshop on September 27-28, 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). The SEA-EX 2017 is a conference workshop intended to address poverty alleviation issues by strategizing the development of the country’s coastal and marine tourism industry.The two-day workshop was attended by representatives from the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Office of the Vice President of the Philippines (OVP), PPA, PCG and PNP-MG. The event was also participated in by individuals from the academe and the country’s coastal and marine tourism industry.A conference paper entitled “Sea-Ex Conference 2017: Highlights, Salient Points and Ways Forward “has been drafted by the Secretariat collating all the results of the workshop regarding the current approaches, best practices and prospects for development of the Philippine coastal and marine tourism industry.
- ICC-PH Environmental Summit 2017. The ICC-PH Environmental Summit has become a platform for collaboration for many people and organizations in solving the country’s trash problem. It provides the public a better understanding of the various environmental issues that the country is currently facing and finding solutions for a more sustainable future. It continually aims to integrate ICC with community building activities; educate the public with the current environmental situation and policies; provide workshops that will enhance skills and knowledge for citizen action; and inspire and raise leaders among the youth. The ICC-PH Environmental Summit 2017 was the third annual summit of its series which brought together students in Zambales and nearby provinces since its foundation in 2014. Organized by the Lighthouse Marina Resort Legacy Foundation, this year’s event was conducted at the International School of Sustainable Tourism Inc., with a film showing held at the Harbor Point, both located at the SBMA, Subic.The event was in partnership with the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, PCG Auxiliary 111th Squadron, SBMA, National Solid Waste Management Council of the DENR and the NCWC Secretariat.During its first day, the event was officially opened by the heads and representatives of said partner agencies including the Local Government of Zambales and the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians. Presentations regarding ocean concerns, environmental protection, and ocean trash reduction were discussed with students through presentations from sponsors such as the Oceana Philippines, Reef Check Foundation, Sangkalikasan, Anvaya Environment Foundation, among others.Similar presentations were provided to the new set of students who have attended Day 2. The second day also included the screening of Tara Illenberger’s “High Tide” at the Harbor Point while a creative workshop on effective formation of environmental campaigns was provided by representatives from DAKILA through its Climate Reality Project. DAKILA is an NGO inspiring a movement of modern heroes to take on advocacies and lead social transformation.
- National Maritime Week. Held last September 24-29 2017, the National Maritime Week was hosted by MARINA this year with its theme “Connecting Ships, Ports and People: The Water that Surrounds Us Unites Us”. The event kicked off on 24 September with a Grand Parade followed by a program held at the Cuneta Astrodome. The program included the awarding of winners of the Art Oratorical Contest and Western Union’s Ten Outstanding Maritime Students of the Philippines.During the second day, the activities included a sea parade and were more concerned with capability demonstration. The event, which was led by the PCG, provided best practices in addressing scenarios such as bomb threats, boarding procedures, arrest of non-compliant person of interest and search and rescue operations, among others. A Coast Cleanup was also conducted in the afternoon at the Manila Yacht Club Area.On September 26, a whole day workshop on MIDP Maritime Manpower Sector was conducted at the Midas Hotel. Meanwhile, on September 27, MARINA hosted the opening of the Maritime Expo Exhibit at the PICC which included a quiz bowl, maritime forum, film showing, and maritime fellowship and worship night.On September 28, MARINA hosted the Inter-agency Workshop on the 10 Year MIDP also at the PICC which was attended by maritime-related agencies. During the same day, the National Maritime Week Recognition Night was held with the DOTr Secretary as guest speaker. During the last day of the Annual celebration of the National Maritime Week, the Joint celebration with Seaway Shipping Digest and Buhay Marino Dyaryo offered a Thanksgiving Mass followed by the Re-launching of the Gabay sa Marino Book.
- Public Information Campaign on Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) Status of the Tubbataha Reefs and Philippine Candidature for a seat in the IMO Council. During the MANA Month, the Department of Foreign Affairs website also displayed informative graphics and photos showing the unique characteristics of the Tubbataha Reefs, their role in a balanced ecosystem, and the reason for its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the country’s first national Marine Protected Area. Meanwhile, the DFA website also promoted the Philippines’ bid for re-election in the IMO Council. This is in support of the Philippines’ leadership role in the global ship manning industry.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- The conduct of the first MANA Mo can be considered successful while the activities were observed to be relevant in spreading awareness to protect as well as celebrate our being a Maritime and Archipelagic Nation. It is noted, however, that a lot has to be improved in terms of coordination with and participation of relevant agencies.
- In terms of targeting audience, while it was observed that MANA Mo has reached out a number of individuals and stakeholders, it is still necessary to advance strategy to expand awareness not only with the people in Manila. Tie up with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education is seen to be necessary to reach out to students especially those located in distant areas in the country.
- It is also vital to create a more effective system to avoid overlaps on the conduct of significant events by different agencies. The NCWC Secretariat recommends that the MANA Mo activity for 2018, and possibly for the coming years be assigned with maritime-related themes for each week such as Maritime Security and Education; Maritime Environment; Fisheries; and, Maritime Industry.