The calming splash of the sea that carries the whisper of a seashell, have you listened to the earthly sound coming from it?  If yes, have you thought that it may be a sound of a whistling whale crying for help? Imaginably the sound perceived by our ears is a sign of emptiness and vulnerability. But seriously, what’s that sound? And where is it coming from?

From the island of Mindanao, someone voiced out, “Every trash needs a hand.” Making noise through her environmental campaign at Don Manuel A. Javellana Memorial National High School and amplifying it all over the City of Panabo, her name has created echoes that you would never forget: Nova Villacorteza Matutina.

Advocacy and leadership— the two words that matter to Nova as she values the significance of education. Even after serving as an officer of the Supreme Student Government of their school in her 7th grade, she remained passionate in serving her fellow youth, leading her to be the President of the Division’s Supreme Student Government (SSG) Federation. She took this as an opportunity to aim for greater leadership and long-lasting service by inclining her initiatives toward environmental action.

Nova’s journey in achieving her goal is not a piece of cake. Being a new student in high school did not stop her. Rather, it became a stepping stone for her. She saw this as a chance to start her environmental initiatives and the realization of her advocacy.

With her passion and ungrudging dedication to earth sustainability, along with the organization’s advocacy, they started the “Best SWMP (Solid Waste Management Program) Implementer” that aims to educate every student on proper waste segregation and disposal to achieve the 4R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Restore.

Student duty goes beyond the campus. This is how the young advocate expands her influence from the school setting to the entire locality. She is on the frontline, together with their Local Government Unit (LGU), actively participating in environmental action. For the local officials, the Best SWMP Implementer is a wise contribution as it becomes a more convenient way for the collectors to bag in the waste since it is properly segregated, thus making the task of the collectors easier and able to provide them ample time to collect the remaining waste coming from the households within the community. With that, they finish their task on time.

Despite her creative campaigns for the environment, Nova still worries that most people have an inadequate sense of responsibility for the practice of solid waste management. This calls for a change across the globe. Unity and solidarity may still be far from the reality since most individuals still turn a blind eye to the problems of nature. Despite the situation, the urgency of her battle cry has never been a question. Focusing on a Zero-Waste future through responsible disposal will be beneficial for her society, and eventually, the world.

Nova said with her fearless voice, “We must call for a change now. We must start with ourselves. We must start now!” Did you hear her? Until when will you choose to ignore? When her voice dissolves?

As everyone continues to live every day, the chances of ignorance about the issue have been neglectable, alongside the changes that may occur. Hoping for us to acknowledge that this battle is not only for her but for each and everyone who lives here on Earth—you and me.

Sea levels are rising, so is the voice for climate action. In a country prone to natural hazards, any small initiatives will be beneficial and valuable for the attainment of Climate Justice.

What if, after all, you were right? The sound you heard from a seashell was a calm and deep ocean but dying. What if you really did hear a crying whale because fishes underwater are killed by pollution? What if the sound you heard was the voice of Nova?  Would you answer the call?


This article was written and prepared by Luis Miguel Odilio C. Nazareno (Student-Journalist), Jorge Miguel R. Virrey (Student-Journalist), and Ms. Maria Ria Calub (School Paper Adviser) from Biñan Integrated National High School, Division of Biñan City, who are graduates of DepEd-DRRMS and’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.