Philippine Coral Reef Exhibit Opens At The New California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco

The staff members at the Philippine Consul General’s Office in San Francisco are very good in making sure that the Filipino American media is updated with consulate-supported events and activities. Consul General Marciano Paynor (an adopted son of Cebu) wanted to be sure I would be at one of the latest media briefings but I am so sorry, Amba, I was stuck somewhere in San Jose, wilting under the Indian Summer’s rays of the sun, yet engaged in an interesting conversation with Jasjeet Singh of World Sikh News and Amritsar Times… Surely, as a community publicist (ok, a volunteer community publicist who takes the time to promote non-profit projects that make the Filipino community proud, yehey!), I would keep hearing about really awesome undertakings that we have been waiting for in the past three years — or so.

Yesterday, I received an email from an old friend.

Hi Lorna!!

How have you been?? Hope all is well with you and your family. Im writing you from Manila. You must have heard about the soon-to-open new California Academy of Science at the Golden Gate Park featuring the Philippine Coral Reef as its permanent exhibit. Malou Babilonia heads the Filam Focus Group which supports it and Im in the Steering Committee with Tita M, Voltaire Guingab, Susan Po- Rufino, Nenuca Ortigas and others. Would you please help us spread the word about this great Philippine pride by forwarding these articles to your million and one Filam contacts and the movers and shakers from the East Coast to the West? Let me know of your great help so I can update Malou and the Focus group about your valued assistance which will surely make a lot of difference. Will forward you succeeding press releases as well. Can I count on you, my dear Lorna?
Thanks and best regards!! Celia

Celia C. Cuasay

So, Celia, here it is… Let’s start with a press release that you sent me. I can’t wait to see the wonderful photos!


SAN FRANCISCO — The world’s deepest living coral reef exhibit opens at the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park on September 27, 2008. The Philippine Coral Reef Exhibit, in a 212,000-gallon aquarium tank, will be home to a variety of soft and hard corals, black-tipped reef sharks, rays, and more than 4,000 reef fishes that are native to the Philippines. Visitors will be able to view the reef and its inhabitants from the surface as well as from five different underwater windows.

The Academy chose to feature a Philippine coral reef because the reef systems in the Philippines are among the most diverse in the world. Despite their global importance, most people on the planet have never seen a living reef. With the opening of the new Academy building, over a million visitors a year will be able to experience the splendor of a living Philippine coral reef and learn what they can do to help save coral reefs around the world.

With a 40-year history of research in the Philippines, resulting in the discovery of dozens of new animal species and publication of a comprehensive guidebook to Indo-Pacific invertebrates, the Academy is partnering with local education and conservation groups, such as Pusod, a non-governmental organization based in the Philippines and Berkeley, whose mission is to preserve and enhance the ecosystems of the Philippines and show their significance to the world.

Both organizations are committed to scientific, educational, and outreach efforts regarding the coral reefs of the Philippines. These efforts will be targeted toward the Filipino community in the Bay Area and abroad, fostering their appreciation for and personal connection to one of the world’s critical biodiversity hotspots.

According to Dr. Terry Gosliner, Senior Curator at the Academy, “Our goal to reach a broad and diverse audience is the reason we have this wonderful evolution of interaction with Pusod and the Filipino community.”

The Academy and Pusod have organized a group of San Francisco Bay Area Filipino Americans to generate interest and excitement about the exhibit, and to get the Filipino community involved. The group, Reaching out through Environmental Education to Filipinos (REEF), has a marketing team that has been aggressively promoting the exhibit to different sectors of the Filipino community. Recently, it participated in the Pistahan parade in San Francisco with a marine-themed float.

Dr. Meg Burke, the Academy’s Director of Education, comments that it is wonderful how the Filipino community has been so cooperative and excited about the Philippine Coral Reef Exhibit. She says she is overwhelmed by how much support the Academy has received from the Filipino community in making the exhibit a spectacular possibility.

“Because the Philippines has more marine biodiversity than anywhere else in the world,” says Malou Babilonia, Pusod Founder and Trustee, “the Filipino community needs to take action in any way to protect, preserve and enhance our marine environments. It is so important that Filipinos everywhere immerse themselves in the Philippine Coral Reef Exhibit at the Academy.”

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