Last year, Vanessa Vergara made a bold move: she left promising career in public relations to pursue her passion — the ocean. These days, she travels around the world in the name of the sea, advocating sustainable ocean tourism and safe diving.
- What is the nature of your job? How long have you been in the industry? Why do you need to travel? I am a consultant & scuba instructor for a lifestyle company called, Squires Bingham Sports and at the same time, I head the organization & the conservation efforts of Reef Check Philippines. Though I have been diving and volunteering for years now, I only fully joined the industry about one year ago. I left my corporate job in 2017 to finally answer the call of the sea and pursue conservation. Later did I know that I will find my dream career from by following my passion. My team travels to inspire people, we give everyone a chance to fall in love with the ocean and see with their own eyes why it’s important to preserve it. We do not only plan charters to pristine and remote locations but we come home with strong images and videos that have the power to open people’s eyes and see the urgency of why change is needed. A famous oceanographer said that, “People only protect what they love”, we hope the awareness and communication efforts from the work of Squires sparks curiosity and a change of perspective.
- How many times do you travel in a year? In the past year, I’ve traveled to 9 different countries and countless dive sites in the Philippines. It is rare for me to be able to spend an entire week in the city. My passion and career requires me to spend as much time in the ocean as possible whether it be a local destination in the Philippines or join a charter in an exotic place.
- What are your most memorable destinations/assignments? I was very fortunate to visit Costa Rica, Ecuador & Mexico just recently and I have fallen hopelessly in love with Latin America. The culture of these places have affected their way of life in such a beautiful way that I am not only curious to learn more but I crave to immerse myself more. An example would be my experience in Costa Rica, I was hearing the phrase “Pura Vida” everywhere. They use the phrase to welcome me to a place or even a reply when I say thank you. After spending more than 10 days there I came to realize that the term “Pura Vida” is more than just a phrase, it’s their way of life. They are as happy as us Filipinos, though life is very challenging at times, everything is dealt with a smile and a sweet disposition.
- What do you do for work when you travel? When I am on location with the Squires Bingham Sports team, we do a range of things from marketing initiatives, photoshoots to conservation efforts and majority of my work is done underwater. The owner of the company, Scott Gutsy Tuason (@gustytuason) is an international multi-award winning photographer and my role is to support the projects by field testing the gear, stepping in as the image model and keeping everyone safe as a scuba instructor.
- What is the best way to get to know a city? When I find myself miles and miles away from home, I like to walk into the heart of the city and take a day to get lost. With no plans and just google maps in my hand, I like to see and appreciate the culture by listening to the language and seeing how the locals live their everyday lives.
- What does it take to do what you do? This job requires more than hard work and perseverance, it takes a lot of passion and a deep love for the ocean. Imagine traveling for 2 days with 4 flights straight then jumping on a ship for another 36 hours on rough seas to reach an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that is untouched by man. I can say that it definitely is not as easy as it looks on Instagram haha but it is all worth it when you reach a place that feels out of this world where conservation has flourished. I am very challenged by this career especially when we hit hard conditions and we are at the mercy of the sea, but I keep pushing myself to get better and stronger because I am coming home from these experiences with a story to tell that even after all the bad news of global warming and pollution, there is hope.