Six Filipino women swimmers from Dumaguete City who call themselves the “Ocean 6” were honored with the 2019 Environmental Heroes Award for Women Leaders in Environmental Conservation given by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines.
Flom Barot-Datoy, Ching Furbeyre, Monique Furbeyre, Sheila Pabalate-Omaguing, Maru Rodriguez, and Frances Hope Yap were collectively recognized with the 2019 awards “Spotlight on the Role of Women in Environmental Conservation” during the WWF Philippines Partners Night held on November 6 in Raffles Makati.
The six Filipina awardees from various backgrounds – 3 registered nurses, a doctor, a school owner, and a call center agency leader – were brought together by their love for swimming and have been promoting social awareness on women empowerment and environmental conservation.
The means they chose to promote their cause may sound like a crazy idea at first, but it’s uniqueness gets them the attention they ask for to push their advocacy forward.
In March 2018, Ocean 6 marked International Women’s Month by swimming across the 6.4 km waters of the marine protected area of Tañon Strait from Liloan, Santander, Cebu to Sibulan, Negros Oriental for a total of 3 and a half hours.
Braving the rough waters and jellyfish stings, the six women swam across the strait to become the first group of women to achieve the feat. Upon their return from the swim, the group reported the line of garbage floating along the strait. They then pledged to make their swim an annual event to call attention to the protection of the seas.
In May 2019, the Ocean 6 again took to the sea and swam across 22 km for nearly nine hours in open water from shores of Silliman Beach, Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, to Siquijor, Siquijor Island.
The women swimmers initially aimed to swim across 26 km to match the distance covered by Dumaguete’s Pinoy Aquaman Ingemar Macarine in 2017 as he swam some 25 km from Dumaguete to Siquijor. But the strong currents forced the group to reroute for safety. Upon their return to shore, Ocean 6 once again reported spotting floating plastics and food packages in the waters.
The award that Ocean 6 received from the WWF for their environmental conservation efforts not only gives them honor but provides a more intimate and personal meaning to their special achievement of having tried and succeeded in performing extraordinary feats in the name of their cause. It’s the kind that leaves a mark and will last for the rest of their lives.
Ocean 6 joins the ever-growing list of Filipinas who have made their mark as advocates of various causes around the world, among them, ICT educator Maria Beebe who was recently given the Most Influential Filipina Woman in the World award in Paris, investigative journalist Maria Ressa who received the Shorenstein Journalism Award from Stanford University, and the visionary Filipinas who were celebrated during the Filipino-American History Month.
With reports from Aurora Quadra-Balibay and Eldan Sambatyon
SEND congratulations in the comments below to Ocean 6 for receiving recognition from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
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