Palawan is a province of 1,780 islands in the western Philippines. As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is a model and a microcosm for human relationships with the natural world. Located between the Sulu Sea and the West Philippine Sea, it lies within the Coral Triangle, the centre of global marine biodiversity.
The story of the people of Palawan is intricately connected to the life of the seas; these coral-fringed islands were among the first in South East Asia to be settled by humans around 50,000 years ago. The indigenous peoples of Palawan have always lived in keeping with the tides, moon, monsoon winds, and rains. Nature has defined every aspect of their existence, from the practical to the spiritual.
In recent years, the strains of the modern world have taken their toll. Industrial fishing and pollution are destroying ocean ecosystems. Climate change threatens coral reefs with extinction within our lifetime. Palawan is rapidly developing; with just 35,000 inhabitants at the turn of the Twentieth Century, it is now home to over a million people.
But there are movements to protect the archipelago. Palawan has become home to a growing number of environmental groups working on the conservation and rehabilitation of marine and coastal ecosystems.
Palawan Seas is a long-term photographic project to explore the inter-relationships that have long-defined life here. It is a visual story of a place and people on the verge of what may be irreversible change, but also a story of collaborations and connection that seeks to ensure a better future for Palawan and the planet.