Once, on a trip to La Union, while waiting for the release of a hundred newly-hatched Olive Ridley turtles, we looked at the vast coastline that allowed these creatures to withstand millenias of change, returning and regenerating in the same stretch of sand that we were standing on, and we could hear nothing. Nothing but the rustle of hatchlings making their way up as they broke through their shells. Nothing but the wind passing through the coconut trees, or the lap of the ocean meeting land. Nothing but the everyday banter of artisanal fisherfolk in the middle of the sea, the place so pristinely quiet, we could hear their conversations from the shore. It’s a humbling way to listen to the elemental sounds of nature. We thought, this is how the world should sound like.
And yet its earthen sounds grow fainter as industrialization replaces the natural with perceptible drones that cut out the nuances of the wild, demanding order and pattern, predictability and easy tempos. For decades, we’ve gravitated farther and farther from what nature is saying, is trying to say, standing by as it plummets. It’s time to bring the voice of the wild back, and we can only do so once we start listening to it.
We need people who have the special hearing ability to listen to the brooks and rivers, vibrattos and vibrations of our world, with the will to listen to its complexities, really listen to it, and come out with the most staunch interpretation of its message. There are two Filipino characteristics for those that embody this type of power: matapang, brave, and may malasakit, empathic. Both are needed to cut out the noise of the artificial and systemic, and put an ear on the ground.
At Atlas, we believe journalists, nature writers, and overall storytellers have a special role to play in the fight against our planet’s silencing. If there’s any hope for a planet in peril, it’s the collective sound of those who speak on its behalf. We call them Atlas Voices. They wield the power of the pen in order to restore natural habitats, reforest hectares of land, demand accountability in governance, and follow the flow of the story to the source of the problem, and its constructive solutions.
If you are a writer, journalist, anthropologist, professor, researcher, or anywhere in between, we want to hear from you. We offer microgrants for research projects or commission stories you might want to publish on our platform. Send us a message. We’ll listen.