Last Sunday, thousands came to celebrate Earth Day along Manila Bay in style. Some came dressed up as fish, while others came as Philippine mythical creatures believed to cause sickness to those who’ll destroy their homes. A cultural group under CCP even donned Filipino traditional dresses made of tinalak.
The whole time, I made sure that I was next to the coast guard brass band, so I’d be able to participate and document the festivities around me. This became more of a challenge, though, as the crowd jumped into the dance swirl when the band started playing the famous “Gangnam Style.”

What most would expect to be a dreary demonstration turned out to be a fun Sunday activity for everybody--families came with their children in tow alongside bikers on their pimped bikes, while boat clubs rowed untiringly along the bay. Although people were high strung about losing the bay to business greed, they still managed to choose a creative and celebratory approach. Rather than telling sad stories of loss, these artists, cultural workers and citizens linked arms and turned the Manila Bay seawall into a setting for artistic performances.

Save Manila BayShowing that environmental advocacy transcends social divides, individuals from the Manila Yacht club walked the stretch of Roxas Boulevard and held hands with activists, fisherfolk, vendors, conservationists, business people, and fashionistas to form a human chain. Indeed, social boundaries disappear when it comes to protecting what is dear to us from further degradation or in this case, the atrocities of reclamation.

Save Manila Bay

This somehow reminded me of what we did in EDSA decades ago, except that now it’s not just about our connection with each other, but also our affinity with nature.

Photos are taken by Portia Luzande

Vince Cinches is Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia based in the Philippines. Follow his Twitter updates via @vincecinches.