Ever since Kaila Ledesma-Trebol was a little girl, she has been fascinated by the environment. She would marvel at its beauty and find art in the smallest things around her. “I’ve always loved nature, as far as I can remember,” she shares. “I’m happiest when I am by the beach, snorkeling, exploring, and discovering new wildlife. Even as a little kid, I would look at nature’s beautiful designs in leaves, flowers, stones.” She shares a funny story brought about by this very love. “My sister remembers that my school bag was so heavy one day, and inside was a perfectly round huge rock! Really nature is the best designer,” she reminisces.
Today, Ledesma-Trebol has combined both her passions. For one, she is a biologist and a trustee of the Board of Directors of Danjugan Island, a marine sanctuary in Negros Occidental. “We make sure to keep the vision of the island intact,” she explains. “Our vision is Marine and Wildlife Conservation through Education, Nature Tourism, and Poverty Alleviation. We stay true to keeping Danjugan off grid. We make sure that we are there to protect it the best way we can. So my work ranges from being a speaker for camps, developing educational materials and merchandise for fundraising, documenting wildlife and nature, working on sustainable nature and eco-tourism, and so on.”
Secondly, she paints and makes jewelry out of sea glass. “My art will always be inspired by nature,” she says. “I’m fascinated by its beauty.” She goes on to explain how she began creating jewelry out of sea glass. “The idea came about because we stopped picking up shells from the beach—since these would best be left for crabs or whatever nature would want them to be used for. So we pick up trash and man-made things. Sea glass is considered part of this, but so beautiful. Nature makes them beautiful through a lot of battering from waves and stones. I used sea glass and sea pottery for my bridesmaids’ necklaces and they turned out so nice that we decided to keep doing it. At that time, my friend Cat and I were making jewelry for divers, but just in silver. After my wedding, we decided to continue using sea glass. That was almost six years ago.” Both passions merge when Ledesma-Trebol creates art to raise funds for Danjugan Island.
Her love for nature extends to the way she lives her life. “I try to practice reducing and reusing, changing my habits, and not being so wasteful,” she shares. “We get lost in convenience. But in the end, we all need to change our habits and help any way we can.”
She also makes the effort to expose her two daughters to nature so they too will develop a love for it. She regularly takes her daughters to Danjugan Island to surround them with its beauty. “I make sure my kids grow up the same way I did, with a lot of nature immersion. My eldest can snorkel with me already; she’s only six,” she says proudly. “My youngest one is a natural with animals. They both appreciate the beauty of nature. They really do say ‘wow’ when looking at beautiful sunsets, skies, rainbows…even rock formations and leaves. They’re really like me when I was little.”
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Though it is a conscious effort to care for the environment, Ledesma-Trebol says you can start small. “Stop using plastic straws, bring your own cup and shopping bags, use reusables rather than one-time use plastics. To the women out there, try using the sinaya cup or washable cloth pads. Seriously. It’s so easy and it feels great to know you won’t be contributing to the landfill with nasty pads. Start changing habits. I struggle, too, but I’m trying.” She also says to remember to teach your children to love the environment at an early age. “Teach your kids to be kind to animals and they’ll be kind—period. I believe that. Get them to love the environment and everything will follow after that.”
When you follow your passion, just like Ledesma-Trebol, you can make the world, and in her case, the environment, a better place.
All photos courtesy of Kaila Ledesma-Trebol.