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who we are

A group of people from different backgrounds were brought together in 2000 to first explore a previously undocumented cetacean species in the country, the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). This modest research expedition spurred further interest in other species found within Philippines waters. Every year since the establishment of the Humpback Whale Research and Conservation Project (which began under the auspices of WWF-Philippines or Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas), more and more people became interested not only in the work on humpback whales, but also in efforts to study other cetacean species. Beginning with just seven volunteers, there are now over 100 volunteers from different parts of the country and the world who have taken part in the fourteen years of this worthwhile endeavour.

We are a group of friends and colleagues who are biologists, veterinarians, engineers, geographers, communicators, educators, artists and more, working together using our various knowledge, skills, and experiences.

Jo Marie Acebes
BSc Bio (Ateneo), DVM (UP- Los Baños), MSc Biodiversity Conservation & Management (Oxford), Phd Marine Environmental History (Murdoch)
Jom started as a volunteer for the Species Unit of WWF-Philippines. Her first close encounter with cetaceans off Negros and training at Silliman University prepared her for the first humpback whale research expedition in the Babuyan Islands in 2000 - an experience that turned out to be life-changing. Volunteer work led to a job which almost instantaneously turned into a passion and a career. Since then she has led many cetacean surveys around the country, responded to marine mammal strandings, conducted seminars/workshops on marine mammal biology, research and conservation. Jom worked for WWF-Philippines and Conservation International-Philippines and initiated independent research and conservation projects. She has partnered with other NGOs such as the Centre for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE), Bohol Foundation for Environmental Restoration, Preservation & Protection (BFERPP) and Physalus. She is a biologist and a veterinarian who is primarily interested in wildlife research and medicine. Her other research interests are marine environmental history, marine protected area management, whaling and fisheries for other large marine vertebrates. She is the Founder and Principal Investigator of BALYENA.ORG.

Jose Mari Daclan
BA Pub Adm (Kalayaan), MA candidate (Ateneo)
Jom D had his first taste of cetacean research as a volunteer for WWF-Philippines’ Humpback Whale Research and Conservation Project in 2001. That experience sparked his passion for the conservation of whales and dolphins, an interest that has led him to join numerous cetacean surveys and brought him to many remote corners of the Philippines. Jom D has worked for several organizations focused on the environment, such as WWF-Philippines, Conservation International-Philippines, and the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, mainly on issues related to marine biodiversity and coastal resources management.

Elson Aca
BSc Comp Sci (UP-Los Baños), MApplSc Geographic Information System (UNSW), MSc Environmental Management (NUS)
Elson's interest on cetaceans began in 2002 as a volunteer for WWF-Philippines’ Humpback Whale Research and Conservation Project. Since then, he has volunteered and participated in several marine surveys conducted by WWF-Phil’s project sites. Aside from research, he is also focusing on environmental education regarding marine resources and conservation. He also advocates the linkage of science and management in creating policies for conservation. To date, he has been spearheading whale shark conservation throughout the Philippines through public awareness and centralized data gathering by means of a website called Butanding Network (www.butandingnetwork.net).

AG Saño
B Land Arch (UP-Diliman)
AG volunteered for WWF-Philippines and became a member of the first expedition of the Humpback Whale Research and Conservation Project in the summer of year 2000 as team photographer. He has been documenting the migrating humpback whales in the Babuyan Islands and other cetaceans around the country for the past ten years. He is a professional free-lance photographer and artist. AG is a strong advocate against cetaceans in captivity.

Cynthia Layusa
BSc Environmental Planning & Development (Miriam), MSc (UP-Diliman, Cambridge)
Cynthia volunteered for the Humpback Whale survey in the Babuyan Islands in 2006 and has not stopped participating in cetacean research work since. Currently the Program Manager of ISLA Biodiversity Conservation Inc., she also coordinates and conducts environmental education youth camps, as well as bird and crocodile surveys in Northern Luzon, Philippines.

AA Yaptinchay
DVM (UP- Los Baños), MSc Aquatic Tropical Ecology (Uni Bremen)
AA has a Master of Science Degree in Aquatic Tropical Ecology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. He was trained on marine mammal research, conservation and management by the National Marine Fisheries Service in the U.S.A and Silliman University in Dumaguete. He developed the first marine mammal stranding protocol for the Philippines when he was with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and pioneered the country’s marine mammal stranding network while with WWF-Philippines as the Director for their Species Conservation Programme. His worked focused on marine wildlife species and marine resource protection where he developed and implemented projects on the conservation of dugongs, cetaceans, elasmobranchs and activities such as whale watching and whale shark interaction. He later became a fellow at the Convention on Migratory Species of the UNEP in Bonn, Germany working on international agreements for the conservation of marine wildlife. He is on the Board of Reef Check Philippines, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines and Responsible Tourism Philippines. He now runs his own travel business and remains a strong advocate of marine wildlife conservation and responsible tourism in the Philippines.

Andrea Bautista-Barcelona
BSc Zoology and DVM (UP-Los Baños)
Ari is both a marine zoologist and a wildlife veterinarian. After finishing her zoology degree, she pursued veterinary medicine to specifically go into marine mammal work. The opportunity for such work presented itself as WWF-Philippines offered preliminary work on the then little known Irrawaddy dolphins of Malampaya Sound as a thesis for vet students. This soon led her to work with WWF as the project manager of the Cetacean Research and Conservation Project in 2002 and later on leading the Tañon Strait Initiative Project. She conducted several cetacean exploration surveys around the country and coordinated the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network. She was a consultant for the Asian Development Bank, Conservation International - Philippines and GTZ-Phils. She continues to work on marine mammal research and conservation as well as other biodiversity conservation initiatives from her home-base in Negros. She is currently an Independent Consultant for environment and natural resource governance projects. She is also assisting the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) of the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental; the University of St. La Salle (USLS) in Bacolod; and the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI).

Pierre Palallos
BSc Physics (De La Salle University)
Pierre’s work at WWF-Philippines as Communications Manager allowed him to travel around the country and experience the wild first-hand. These experiences furthered his love for the environment. He is now a freelance graphic artist and still works closely with various environmental NGOs. Pierre is also interested in environmental education having previously worked at the Museo Pambata ng Maynila.

Hussein Macarambon
BA International Politics (Kyoto Uni), MA Env Policy (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific Uni)
Hussein is currently working with UNESCO Jakarta as Liaison Officer and has been involved in the technical working group of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework of the Philippine Country Team. He has previously worked as a consultant to the Asian Development Bank, the Work Bank Manila Office and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok. He also served as a researcher at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman and was a Lecturer at the Political Science departments of the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University Taft. He has an MA in Environmental Policy from the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and a BA in International Politics from Kyoto University, Japan. His research interests include community-based forest management, urban water politics, clean development mechanism and environmental policy advocacy.