Community empowerment for positive change

Daff Barsales Binobo, our Site Manager and expedition co-ordinator.This is the next installment of a blog written by our Site Manager, Daff, where he reflects on the value and impact of community level engagament initiatives in the Philippines. The first part of this blog can be found here:

Build a stronger society....

The society’s strength is determined by its people. As most of us are aware by now, it is the local communities that need the most support and attention. In an island where tourism and fishing are the primary sources of livelihood, it is tricky to find a common ground where everyone gets their fair slice of the cake. Malapascua started getting tourists when it was established as one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. When the COVID pandemic hit the country, our industries went into shock. Tourism activities on the island have stopped. As expected, the locals resorted back to the best way they know to provide food for their families – fishing. They went back to fishing. This brought to light just how much this small island lacks the initiatives to help sustain the fisheries sector and the ever-challenging problems on enforcement and inclusion. For some time, the island focused too much on tourism and forgot about the industry that brought tourists here in the first place.

What I’m getting at is that we need to do more. We should always see to it that the people comes first. Our local communities become the front lines for transformation by challenging citizens to be involved with development initiatives. There has been a big movement for governments around the globe to focus more on community empowerment through grassroots development because it works well on creating sound initiatives. Through this, people feel more involved and are more likely to encourage responsible citizenship and promote good governance. If we look at community involvement as limitless, it is a real possibility that it can influence policy formulation at a higher level by lobbying and working forcefully towards certain causes like environmental protection and conservation. These policies, if properly strategized according to the needs of the basic sectors could lead to an overall improvement in how the world works.

When we can work towards achieving that, then we can expect that everyone will keep on pushing to help make better decisions.

Our local education programmes help build the foundations for a sustainable future for the Philippines seas

The quest for self-fulfillment.

Besides our values and beliefs, we are also defined by the things we are passionate about. You may call it our attitude towards things, what we love doing, or I-am-willing-to-do-everything-for-that. Whatever you want to call it. Finding that might take time but it is what all of us should strive for.

Being in the development sector for most of my career brought me to a lot of realisations. I found a pattern that whatever I get into, it always leads me to work with organisations whose goal is to become an instrument to create a better future for those who most need it. There is always this strong attraction that pulls me towards that direction. Before taking over as site manager for PepSea, I worked on an initiative with the Philippine government and felt that whatever I gained from that experience should be brought straight to the field where I can be present and be part of the force that pushes things forward. I want direct involvement. People and the Sea gave me the opportunity to be part of a cause that moves our community towards positive change.


I came to the conclusion that one good way of getting to that elusive feeling of fulfillment is to be in a place where I can directly influence something. Working with people allows me to build connections. These connections then create a sense of belongingness. Working at the community level allows for the opportunity to work together to achieve changes that will truly make a positive impact. Compared to spending most of my time at a desk, being in the field has allowed me to directly witness improvements brought by the success of a well-implemented program. It always feels rewarding to get the chance to get my hands dirty and take in that sweet smell of hard work at the end of the day. Something that makes me feel content having that tangible manifestation of fulfilling my purpose.


This is just a handful of reasons why it is important to work at the community level and continue to find ways to improve it. Like this list, the possibilities are limitless on what we can do to create a better world. No act is too small. 

Teamwork and local level empowerment leads to strong, community-led initiatives for meaningful marine conservation

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