TWENTY-four-year-old Kenny Glenn Silud has always been interested in marine conservation, starting with small projects in their coastal community in Barangay Sawang Calero, Cebu City when he was still a Sangguniang Kabataan chairman there.
He started with My Little Seahouse, a mini library that he set up in their barangay hall where kids aged six to 10 years old can learn about the ocean and marine animals.
My Little Seahouse is among 19 marine conservation projects by young Filipinos that were funded by the United States Embassy. The projects were conceptualized during the Sea Camp, a summer camp activity organized by the Save the Philippine Seas, a group that promotes marine conservation, in Coron, Palawan in 2015.
Kenny, a barangay councilor in Sawang and a civil engineer, was also active in the protest against the proposed coal-fired power plant in the barangay, believing it is harmful both to the environment and public health.
His passion in helping conserve marine resources also brought him to Malapascua Island in Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu, where he volunteers as a conservation management field worker. He helps educate the community on how they can preserve marine protected areas and protect thresher sharks.
Later this month, Kenny is set to make the most of another opportunity to share his advocacy and learn more about environmental conservation.
Kenny is the only Cebuano among the 17 young Filipino leaders who were chosen as participants to the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Academic Fellowship for Fall 2017, which is funded by the United States Government. They will be hosted in various American universities to improve their skills and network in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship and environment during the month-long fellowship.
“This opportunity is a stepping stone for me to level up my advocacy work. With this, I might be able to address the local environmental issues more effectively and come up with more efficient solutions. For example, with my new work in Malapascua where we need to come up with a management plan for the marine protected areas and the protection of the thresher sharks, hopefully after the fellowship, I will be able to come up with efficient strategies in legislative work and community ground work,” Kenny shared.
He also hopes that he can contribute to enrich discussions during his study in the US by sharing the challenges he faced in promoting his advocacy and how he overcame them.
“Who knows, they might be able to learn a lesson or two from my experiences and they might just be able to apply it in their individual advocacies,” the engineering professor said.
Whether he’s abroad or in the slum areas in Sawang Calero, Kenny hopes the children can learn from his projects and do their share in protecting the environment.
He also encouraged his fellow youth to keep learning as much as they can about their advocacies, and develop the necessary skills to pursue them. (Patricia June S. Meramonte CIT-U Intern)