Alameda Youth to Travel to the Philippines for Coral Reef Surveys

Alameda Youth to Travel to the Philippines for Coral Reef Surveys

Youth scuba divers from Alameda and Alameda’s Sister City, Dumaguete, a city on Negros Island in the Philippines, will be conducting reef surveys and coral restoration in Dumaguete later this month. Leading this 10-day, first-time expedition of young citizen-scientists involving Sister Cities is Alameda Sister City Association (ASCA) partner, Blue Endeavors.

The goal of this partnership is to engage international youth in the advocacy and leadership of becoming better stewards of the world’s oceans. Interested high-school and college-aged students recruited through sister city relationships are trained and supervised by Blue Endeavors to conduct annual hands-on reef survey and reconstruction projects.

Following the completion of this July’s expedition, the partnership will connect with all school levels in Alameda to prepare for a much larger expedition of student divers to return to Dumaguete in the summer of 2023. The support for such participation will come in part from scholarships and grants through fund-raising efforts. The ASCA and Blue Endeavors are hoping that following the 2023 Dumaguete expedition, they will be able to invite other sister cities to sponsor youth divers for similar projects at other well-known diving “Hubs” scattered throughout the world.

Native Alamedan Mila Robles-Wong, a graduate of Encinal High, NEA Community Learning Center and Earhart Elementary School, will be part of the diving team representing Alameda. Robles-Wong was a part of the then Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer’s delegation that visited Dumaguete in 2015.

Alameda's partner in Dumaguete is Silliman University, from which student divers have been recruited. Further, this program has been a project of the ASCA Dumaguete Sister City Committee, Flor Ventanilla, Chairperson; and Cynthia Bonta, former ASCA President.

Alameda youth scuba divers were supposed to travel to Dumaguete to train together and perform reef checks and other scientific surveys in 2020, but the trip was postponed (“Youth Leader Speaks Out Along with Sister Cities from Around the World” August 22, 2019).

Dumaguete is a world-renowned scuba-diving destination. Alameda and Dumaguete became sister cities in 2015. The Sister City program is a partnership between the City of Alameda and ASCA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It was established in 2009.