Vani Vergara is on the pulse of everything that happens in the industry. After all, she's behind some of the metro's most exclusive events—one of the cool perks of being a PR girl. Currently, she manages the brand equity of Sunnies Studios, which means her weekdays are filled with attending meetings and managing projects. But while juggling all that, she still describes herself as an "ocean nerd." Vani tells Preview, "On the weekends, I trade my heels [for] fins as a scuba instructor. I love to chase after the most thrilling adventures with sharks or explore the deepest depths of the sea."
"I have always been drawn to the magic of the ocean. It was even my childhood dream to be a marine biologist but sometimes life points you in a different direction," shares the 26-year-old. "The next thing I knew, I found myself in the beauty and fashion industry."
Her day job, however, did not keep her from doing what she loves. The further she dove into the depths of the sea, the more she was enthralled by its clandestine world. "I just woke up one day and decided that it was time to answer the call of the sea," Vani tells us. "Suddenly, it was like an alarm went off within me." Shortly after, she made one of the best decisions of her life: to become an advocate of the ocean.
Together with her organization, Reef Check Philippines, Vani dedicates her time "to be the voice of the ones we often take for granted" and spreads public awareness. "Just in our lifetime, we already lost half of the world’s coral reefs and hardly anyone noticed or even cared. Coral reefs are basically the rainforest of the ocean and the moment we lose them, we will not only lose the other marine creatures but half a billion people around the world will go hungry and suffer as well." Vani also adds, "We are currently at a unique point in time where drastic changes can happen. We are not going to lose the coral reefs and wildlife in 100 years, we are losing them right now. The fate of the ocean and all cute little creatures we love depend on what we do today. But I am happy to learn that even if this is literally our last chance, we are not yet too late."
If you're ready to help save the ocean, you can start by doing these simple things, as listed by Vani herself:
1. Be aware of the daily products you use.
"Always remember that everything ends up in the ocean. Every glitter, every little bead in your face scrub and every straw could potentially be the straw that almost killed the turtle in that super sad viral video on Facebook."
2. Adopt a coral.
Organizations like Reef Check Philippines have Adopt a Coral programs where you can help raise funds for reef projects. Through Reef Check, you can also share a few bucks a month to sponsor the education of a fisherman’s child who can’t afford school. "It’s hard to see how sponsoring one person will change the world but you don’t realize that your sponsorship may mean the world to this person," Vani notes.
"If anyone is curious about the sea or [wants to go] scuba diving, my first advice is to get in the water immediately before it is too late! What you see on your vacation now might not be there at the end of the summer so get your dive certification and tick those dream locations off your bucket list." Through Squires Bingham Sports, you can get your diving certificate. Vani adds, "They can connect you to a scuba instructor or even personalize the gear for you."
4. Invest in good gear.
"For all the new scuba divers out there, I must tell you that buying your own gear actually comes out cheaper than renting an entire set every weekend. Also, I wish someone told me back then to invest in good brands like Hecs and Sharkskin suits, Ratio dive computers, Dive system BCDs and the like because with a small price change, you can really feel the difference! I ended up spending double after my basic scuba gear gave up on me after a few years, so invest wisely."