AA Yaptinchay, DVM, MSc. is a marine wildlife species specialist with extensive experience spanning 30 years in the conservation and management of long-lived and threatened species such as the dugong, marine turtles, cetaceans, and sharks. His work on whale shark fisheries and tourism back in 1996 resulted in the protection of the species in the Philippines. He is a strong advocate for the non-consumptive utilization of marine wildlife which influenced both government and civil society in the development of responsible tourism policies and practices. He is the Founder and Executive Director of MWWP which established partnerships with DA-BFAR and NFRDI and the DENR in the development of knowledge products to include the Philippine Aquatic Wildlife Rescue and Response Manual Series. He is a co-convenor of the Save Sharks Network of the Philippines which organizes the biennial Philippine Shark Summit series. He is the Chair of the PARLC Subcommittee on Cetaceans, a member of PARLC Subcommittee on Cartilaginous Fishes, and sits in the editorial board of the Philippine Journal of Fisheries.
Daniel Ocampo or Danny, as he prefers being called by his nickname, studied at the University of Santo Tomas and took up BS Chemical Engineering. His love for the environment, particularly the ocean, was fueled by watching the Life on Earth series by Sir David Attenborough and documentaries by Jacques Yves Cousteau when he was still in elementary school. When he entered high school, he co-organized a Nature Lover’s Club in his school and organized treks to mountains and snorkeling trips to coastal areas. This led him to get acquainted to non-government organizations which inspired him to choose joining the non-profit sector. He became a certified open water diver in 1989 and started taking underwater photos shortly thereafter with a Nikonos III film camera. As an underwater photographer he is an advocate of ethical and responsible diving and underwater photography practices. As such, he chooses contests and events he joins that are aligned with his advocacy of protecting the marine environment and fostering responsible underwater interaction and behaviour among divers. He joined Oceana in 2015 and is now the senior campaign manager handling the stop illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters to protect marine resources, protect the welfare of municipal fisherfolk and to ensure sustainable fisheries management.
Bio-Elsie Gabriel-UNESCO Green Citizen, plenary speaker at United Nations Oceans Conference Portugal, #Women4Climate, LOreal Climate Champion, Maharashtra Climate Desk MCAPC, Consultant Lakshadweep Islands Action Plan Climate Change, Ambassador for India Ocean Quest Global International, Founder Young Environmentalists Programme, National Coordinator Oceans- Climate Reality Project, Founder/Co- Chairperson Oceans School India. An award winning environmentalist, researching on Divers as agents of change, climate change consultant advocate, global speaker trained and certified by former Vice President of USA Al Gore in Rio Brazil South America . Researching on anthropological ocean communities and Traditional Knowledge .PADI certified Advanced diver, with certified expertise in Environment law and Mass Communications, Climate change mitigation and ocean education. Alumni of Harvard Business School Leadership for Senior Executives USA.
Em Quintana, also known as The Vegan Mermaid from the Philippines, has been mermaiding since 2013 both performing as a mermaid and teaching mermaid classes. She was one of the delegates to represent the Philippines in the World Mermaid Championship held in Guangzhou, China in 2019. She is also a Basic RAID Freediver certified by Azul Freediving. As a vegan, she represents the fish folks and advocates deeply for the ocean, the marine environment, and planet Earth in general.
Born in the center of the Philippines 1 km away from the sea, George Wegmann has been unable to stay away from the water for most of his life. This has led to George doing almost all the jobs you can do in the diving industry, from carrying tanks, driving boats, DMing on liveaboards, and buying into the DM-OWI-AOWI-EANxI-Tec Instr-IDCS-CD-IT-ITT-ITM career path…with a lot of failures (lessons) as well as some successes under his belt, George will share with you some observations on how to combine your passion (diving) with business (la moneda). Diving stats: 6000+ dives in 17 countries, 111 m max depth, 210 min longest BT, over 5000 recr and pro certs issued.
SSI Instructor Trainer / Certifier for Recreational Diving, Technical Diving Instructor, Freediver, Lifeguard and Swimming Instructor, Semi-Closed Rebreather Diver, Commercial Diver, Cave and Wreck Explorer. Having been exposed to outdoor activities at a very young age, It was just a matter of time before this guy was introduced to Scuba Diving. Now with over 8,000+ dives composed of recreational, commercial, search rescue and recovery, technical and exploration dives, Gordz continues to share his passion by training Dive Professionals and entry level divers. Trying to keep the gentle balance between work and spending quality time with his lovely wife Toni and son Dax, Gordz still finds time to squeeze in duties as a volunteer firefighter and an emergency medical technician.
Joal is the Program Head of ABS-CBN Foundation’s Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch), advocating environmental awareness and protection for the Philippines’ unique ecosystems and biodiversity. An avid scuba diver, his love for the underwater world sparked a passion for marine conservation, science education and advocacy for coastal communities. He is the Executive Director of the SEA Institute in the Verde Island Passage (SEA Institute-VIP). SEA Institute promotes Science, Education and Advocacy for a healthy and resilient Verde Island Passage, recognized as the center of the center of the world’s marine biodiversity and recently designated as a Mission Blue Hope Spot. A key project works to establish local communities of empowered citizen scientists to manage and protect this unique ecosystem.
Kaila is a marine biologist and artist who was part of the team that conceptualized DEEP — the Danjugan Island Environmental Education program. She was also a Research Officer for the Tubbataha Project of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines for more than four years and an Education Coordinator for Flora and Fauna International.
Mark is a Native of the State of Michigan a retired Healthcare Engineer, a Professional Engineer, and US Air Force veteran. He holds a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, is certified as a Project/Program Manager, and lectures at the School of Nursing, University of Michigan. Mark is also a 4th-year doctoral student studying disability and leadership in the recreational sport of scuba diving. Founder of Poseidon Handicap Scuba Adventures, Mark is a Handicap Scuba Association (HSA) Course Director Trainer, and PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialties Instructor After Mark’s son was born with a disability (and subsequent passing) he traveled the world sharing the Handicap Scuba Association program into the lives of other people, so they can enrich the life of another disabled individual through the recreational sport of Scuba Diving.
Melody del Rosario is also the founder of Shore it Up, the environmental flagship program of the MVP group of companies and the only private sector that advocates to rescue, restore and revive coastal communities. As Shore it Up celebrates its 15th year anniversary, it has mapped out its blue footprint in its contributions to marine conservation and protection in the Philippines. One of the significant accomplishments of Shore it Up are the Mangrove Propagation and Information Centers (MPIC) which have been instrumental in restoring and protecting mangrove forests throughout the Philippines. These centers, together with its Mangrove Eco-Guides, provide an appreciation on the importance of mangroves in the ecosystem for tourists and encourage communities to propagate and plants mangrove seedlings. Another vital program of Shore It Up is the Marine Protection, Inspection and conservation Guardians aimed at coastal and marine protection in the areas of Medina, Misamis Oriental, in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro and in Tubbataha, Palawan.
Paul has been diving in Region 12 since 1993. He is now a PADI Master Instructor and a Trimix Diver. He owns South Point Divers and Lemlunay Resort.
Ram is a multi-published UW Photographer, Scuba Instructor, and Tech Diver. He was part of several wreck-, reef-, and cave explorations around the Philippines and in Brunei. Back in his base in Anilao, he is considered a pioneer of Bonfire Diving. His works can be seen in the Guide to Anilao, Legends Beneath the Waves, Black is the New Blue, and Coral Reefs of the Philippines among various other publications. When not in the field, Ram keeps busy with UW photo workshops and scuba courses out of his homebase.
Rick is the Asia Pacific business representative for SDI-TDI-ERDI. He has been a diving instructor for 33 years and now focuses on teaching SDI and TDI instructor courses, technical diver courses with TDI and is a pubic safety diver with Emergency Response Diving International [ERDI]. Rick has a wealth of experience diving throughout the Philippines and has owned successful dive centers in Puerto Galera and Bohol. As a member of the Puerto Galera Dive Association he helped develop programs to promote dive safety with PG dive centers. This continued with the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary [PCGA], both as the 505th PCGA squadron director and also as the Deputy National Chief of Staff for Maritime Search and Rescue.
Gutsy Tuason is a Manila-based diver and nature photographer who started taking underwater photographs 35 years ago. Anilao, a photobook he co-authored, won the P’alme d’Or at Antibes in 2000, putting the then-little known dive spot on the world map for macro photographer. His most recent book, Blackwater and Open Blue, which picked up book of the year at the 2017 Underwater Photographer of the year Competition, explored a new genre of dive photography known as blackwater. As a veteran of the industry, Gutsy works with numerous dive publications, collaborates with leading conservation groups, and represents the Philippines in international expos. When he’s not out diving, Gutsy runs Squires Bingham Sports, a boutique that specializes in scuba gear, underwater imaging, liveaboard charters, and photography workshops.
Sef has 20 years of experience in development work, working with local communities to create sustainable livelihood, protect the environment, and empower women and the youth. She is currently a Gender Specialist with the United Nations in the Philippines. She also helps design and facilitate the environmental education activities of PRRCFI, particularly its Marine and Wildlife Camps.
When she turned 25, Vanessa Vergara made a bold move: she left a promising career in public relations to pursue her passion — the ocean. As the ocean has always been her first love, she trained to be a scuba instructor. She has then dedicated her life to using her skills and experience as the head of Reef Check Philippines to empower recreational divers, tourists and civilians to join the cause of saving our seas through the programs she has created. Vanessa travels around the world in the name of the sea, advocating sustainable ocean tourism and safe diving. She takes photographs and volunteers her time to conservation to inspire people to save the ocean before it is too late.