Bohol’s ‘mermaid’ fights for plastic-free province

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Bohol’s ‘mermaid’ fights for plastic-free province

Topic |  


Scene: Lutgardo “Gardy” Labad for being recognized and awarded by the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ “SineSandaan” as one of its Luminaries in the field of Music Score. His contribution and excellence in film scoring include Ganito Kami Ngayon, Paano Kayo Ngayon; Magnifico, Ang Tatay kong Nanay, Tinimbang ka Ngunit Kulang, etc.

Scene:  Andrew Braker from SHS Department and  Carl Joellie Tentativa  from College of Nursing were crowned  Mister and Miss UB Personality 2019.



What do young people and plastic have in common? They will both be around longer, especially the plastic.

Plastic waste that we are inheriting as it accumulates everyday on land, in the oceans, in their food chain and in their bodies.

But there is a “mermaid” in Bohol fighting for tighter regulations on the use of plastics and better waste management in Bohol province.

Because of Jammy Ungab’s “Plastic Free Bohol” campaign, some local governments started banning the use of plastic bags.

Jammy, 34, earned the moniker “The Mermaid of Bohol” because of her advocacy-and she spends most of her time in the seas.

In 2018, Jammy was included in Inquirer’s “33 people and projects that moved PH communities.”


As an ambassador of Save The Mermaids and 5 Gyres , Jammy joins other young people to fight plastic pollution through science, education, research, and adventure.


“We are fighting to save the sea from human pollution,” she said. “I have to start it here in our home province.”

“I love to travel, surf, hike, and take pictures of landscapes. My love for adventure has brought me to off the beaten spots and made my eyes open to the reality our environment, especially our oceans, are facing,” she said.

She has been to beautiful remote spots around the country and she said those beautiful spots have something we don’t usually see on the internet before….plastics.


“I love the ocean. It is my home, my church, and my best friend. The ocean is so dear to my heart not only because it provides us most of the oxygen we breathe, and provides us food and livelihood, but the ocean also helped me beat depression,” she said.

From the moment she found genuine happiness and herself again, she vowed to help protect our oceans in her own little ways.

French-Filipino celebrity Erwan Huessaff invites Jammy Ungab and Atty. Alma Aparece and the team of Plastic-Free Bohol at Donatela Hotel, Panglao for an interview on sustainable eco-centric tourism and plastic pollution in the province. | Contributed Photo

Spending so much time in the sea, Jammy also created and designed her own “eco-friendly” bikini line “Marikit.” It is a handmade crochet swimwear which a portion of the sale goes for ocean conservation and end starvation of children in the Philippines.

“I moved back to Bohol three years ago to start my small sustainable business that gives back to the ocean. That was also when I noticed how bad littering and the solid waste management is in our province. I went home upset one day after seeing all the trash that were left by beach goers and next thing I knew, I published a social media page called Plastic Free Bohol,” she said.

Plastic Free Bohol is a grassroots movement Jammy started to raise awareness on plastic pollution in Bohol Island since there were no groups or organizations in Bohol that are actively campaigning against single use plastics.

“I started sharing articles and my journey to a less waste lifestyle (not zero waste yet),” said Jammy who realized it’s not an enough effort, so she started organizing beach cleanups to get the community involved.

“Cleaning beaches is not the solution, but it helps make the animals safer and it is also a great venue to raise awareness and meet likeminded people,” she said.

When she has time and opportunity, she also talks to politicians and business owners to encourage them to ban single use plastics. The journey, according to her, is not a walk in the park. She said it is actually very hard and challenging.

“Being an ambivert, but more of an introvert, it is a big challenge for me to talk with a lot people I don’t know and even more challenging if you’re trying to change their mindset, convincing them to change some of their habits,” she said.

Jammy said she is not good in public speaking, but she does everything to get the word out there.

“It’s about time that we should stop ignoring plastic pollution. We might not feel the effects here in our province now, but we will in the next few years when we are already swimming in a sea of plastic,” she said.

When Panglao Island was haunted by environmental problems and woes, Jammy and her group conducted regular clean-up drive in the touristic island.

The movement’s “Bohol’s Baktas” clean-up on Alona beach stretch last June yielded about 8.7 lbs (approx. 4 kilos) of cigarette butts alone.

There is a need to continue educating both locals and visitors.

“Teach them on how to be more responsible with their trash,” she said.

She said 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year and it will only get worse if people are still not going to do something about it.

She said scientists agreed that by year 2050, there will be more plastics in our oceans than fish.  She urged people to be part of the solution.

“You don’t have to be a marine biologist nor a scientist nor a policy maker to help fight plastic pollution. You just need to have love and compassion,” she explained.

“Love for your health, for our Mother Earth, and for the generations to come. There’s so much you can do. How? You can start by saying NO to single use plastics, by choosing reusables over disposables, by buying less, by picking up at least 5 pieces of rubbish every day, and stop littering,” she added.

And the mermaid is watching!

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