The Philippines, touted as the Pearl of the Orient, with more than 111 dialects spoken, is one of the world’s largest archipelago nations, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-PH).
Philippine islands are classified into three main geographical areas – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Because of its archipelagic nature, the Philippines is a culturally diverse country with unique cultures and ethnicities. With its topography consisting of mountainous terrains, dense forests, plains, and coastal areas, the Philippines is rich in biodiversity. It is considered as one of the mega biodiversity countries in the world with a high percentage of flora and fauna endemism.
The Philippines’ coastline has a length of more than 18,000 km. with its coastal waters spanning 266,000 sq. km. More than a thousand are coastal municipalities inhabited by millions of people.
Thus, as way to protect our maritime territories and to spread awareness on its current situation, the observance of Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA MO) was implemented in the Philippines by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 316, issued on Sept. 14, 2017. The decree declares the month of September as the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo), amending Proclamation no. 176 (S. 1963) to transfer the observance of the Fish Conservation Week from the third week of October to the third week of September of every year. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared that International Coastal Clean-up, Fish Observation Week and MANA MO be celebrated together in the month of September.
This year’s theme: “Our Seas, Our Livelihood, Our Heritage: Connecting Lives and Nations”, does not only highlight the nation’s rich maritime history but also recognizes the "importance of fish and other aquatic products to the people's well-being and the country's economy." As we all know, Philippines is surrounded by bodies of water which means people’s livelihood is mostly depends on water resources.
MANA Mo is also a way for the Department to introduce clean water, enhanced biodiversity conservation and scaling up of coastal and marine ecosystem program which are part of the 10 priority programs of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.