“Just imagine the impact Jessica Sanchez would have on the country’s marine conservation efforts if she were with us today painting this mural?”

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje posed this question before some 700 volunteers who trooped to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City Friday (May 25) to stress the immense contribution of environmental advocacy to the conservation efforts mounted by government and the civil society.

The volunteers, mostly children with their parents, were to take part in the painting of “Biodiversity Wall of Nature,” a kilometer-long fence mural showcasing the richness of Philippine marine life and the threats it faces from human activities. The project hopes to result in creating the longest wildlife mural wall in the country.

“Time and again, I have been saying that the DENR has no monopoly of protecting the environment and, as an example, it would take the help of everyone here to accomplish this feat,” Paje explained, stressing that the mural fence forms part of the overall activities laid out by the DENR and its partners in the civil society for the celebration of May as Month of Ocean with the theme “Buhay Dagat, Buhay Natin.”

The theme rides on the observance of International Day of Biological Diversity last May 22, focusing of the world’s marine biodiversity as declared by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Paje cited the efforts of wildlife photographer and environmental artist Amado Guerrero or A.G. Saño for spearheading the mural project with the Coastal and Marine Management Office (CMMO) of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).

“Even the simplest act of putting that candy wrapper in your pocket is in itself a strong form of environmental advocacy,” Paje added, imploring the help of the parents to take the lead as advocates for Philippine environmentalism for their children “who, after all, are the ones who will reap all the efforts we are pursuing now.”

Paje likewise bared his plan to request Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Francisco Tolentino to make available for the mural undertaking the concrete fences of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) traversing the 17-kilometer Pasay-to-Quezon City route to sustain the effort in the succeeding years.

“Baka high-school na ang ilan sa mga bata rito, hindi pa tayo tapos,” Paje quipped.

Presidential Proclamation No. 57 issued in 1999 provides that May be declared as “Month of the Ocean” every year and its observance to be spearheaded by the DENR with the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).