The mental filters of biases
By YASHIKA TORIB
Manila Bureau Correspondent
Some weeks ago, I wrote an article about how a group of divers has accidentally discovered a coral garden in what was believed to be a barren area of Manila Bay.
Manila Bay, by the way, is not just the immediate cove fronting Roxas Boulevard. It is situated in the western part of Luzon and is bounded by Cavite and Metro Manila on the east, Bulacan, and Pampanga on the north, and Bataan on the west and northwest. This discovery of coral reefs was found in Ternate, Cavite.
The dive was originally intended to install four marker buoys for the boundaries of the Core Zone of Ternate Marine Park (TMP) and two artificial reefs in celebration of the Month of the Ocean 2021. It was done in collaboration between the Coastal and Marine Management of Cavite Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), Coast Guard Station Cavite, Ternate’s Local Government Unit (LGU), and the Caylabne Bay Resort Management.
Professional and volunteer divers discovered 160.132 square meters of a coral garden within the Core Zone of TMP, 20 meters away from the seashore and 26 feet deep. It is composed of soft and hard corals with indicator species within.
The chance discovery elated marine scientists and environmentalists as it is an indication of healthy marine life in an area of the sea people believed to be dead. It was a happy, jubilant day for us in the maritime industry.
The news quickly piqued the attention and opinions of the masses. In hours, the thread of conversation following the news was already teeming with comments that I couldn’t help but check out how people took it. I was excited.
Then I saw all statements tinged in yellow and red. People siding with the Duterte Administration are fighting against the opposition over a coral reef! One comment reads that the discovery was a sham and was simply planted by the DDS to justify that Manila Bay is doing alright all along especially after the white-sand fiasco along Roxas Boulevard. Another comment doubted the authenticity of photos released along with the article. Some say the article serves as a “pabango” to DENR.
Simply put, the exchange of ideas eventually led to online bickering amongst keyboard warriors, the majority of whom probably did not manage to read beyond the headline: “Divers discover coral garden in Manila Bay”.
It did not offend me that some called me Nemo (the adorable clownfish of Pixar) or a DDS. The last time I checked, I am apolitical. I am not even a fish. What saddened me, though, was the depth of biases that cloud reasoning, logic, and comprehension. Of how opinions can easily discount facts. Such is the mental filter that alters biases.