By Nikka Garriga
MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA—Seventeen year-olds Hazel Anne Hernandez, Julian Paolo Biyo and Paul Caesar Flores are pitching in with the efforts to preserve the country's coral reefs.
They were able to come up with a sustainable method for coral reef rehabilitation using bamboo and concrete materials for a local fishing community along the coast of Banate Bay in Iloilo.
“The findings and techniques we utilized for this research are appropriate for areas where coral reefs need treatment,” Julian explained.
“Not only do we want to benefit the environment through coral rehabilitation, but we also strive to provide economic support to communities who rely on coral reefs for livelihood,” he added.
Bamboos were chosen as an alternative because these are used by the local fishermen to grow oysters, leading the group to experiment on the possibility of corals to also grow on the plant.
Their project bagged fourth place in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2012.
It may not have won the coveted price in the competition, but their efforts are now beginning to pay off.
The students' research area is now recognized as a marine protected habitat, while the local government has continuously been promoting the same project as a model for neighboring towns.
They were also hailed “Most Promising Young Scientists” at the Search for SEAMEO's (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization) Young Scientists 8th Regional Congress.
The trio believes the initiative can also help raise awareness of coral reef conservation which is regarded as a vital component to conserve the marine ecosystem.
“The good thing about our work is that it can be applied not just here in the Philippines but all over the world. It can be used as a model for coral conservation, help bring back life into our oceans and enhance its biodiversity,” Julian said.
Hazel, Julian and Paul are now in college pursuing degrees in metallurgical engineering, psychology and geology, respectively.
With a love for science and a knack for ingenuity, these three young researchers are hoping to contribute more scientific insights in the future.
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