Meet the Pinay who teaches Philippine biodiversity one video at a time

April 18, 2024 - 6:52 PM
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Composite shows content creator and Balai-lamok flower. (Celine Murillo/Facebook)

Environmentalist Celine Murillo is dedicated to educating people on the Philippine biodiversity.

With her videos featuring trees, fruits and animals found in the country, Murillo has captured an audience online who tune in to her adventures.

Her top liked video, an explainer on Philippine native berries on TikTok, amassed over 240,000 likes and 4.1 million views.

@celinemurillo_ Meet #Sampinit, isang Philippine Native Berry! #PhilippineNativeShrubs #learnontiktok #learnontiktokph #philippinebiodiversity #philippines🇵🇭tiktok #philippineplants #philippinefruits ♬ original sound – Celine Murillo

The comments in the video vary from curious questions and astonishment from Filipino social media users.

“Nakakain pala ‘yan? Ang dami sa sementeryo sa’min haha”, commented one Pinoy TikTok user on the native berries.

Murillo’s content varies in range but centers in making accessible and digestible information on the lexicon of “saribuhay” or biodiversity in Tagalog.

She packs them with research and arresting visuals and delivers them in a light and engaging manner. 

Murillo is an effective content creator not by accident. A writer and photographer, she is well-versed in telling the colorful story of nature in various formats. 

In 2022, she was chosen as one of the Young ASEAN Storytellers by the Asean Center for Biodiversity.

Under the grant, the content creator was given stipend for production, training in science communication, and a fully-paid trip to Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Bukidnon.

She then weaved together the story of the natural park and its people, to show how humans and nature can mesh together in harmony, as well as to promote the park as a destination.

In a recent interview, Murillo told Howie Severino that the knowledge on Philippine biodiversity should be disseminated more widely to the masses until it becomes commonplace.

She mentioned that as an example, some Filipinos are very fond of cherry blossoms, but indifferent to local species of trees.

In direct response to this gap, Murillo produces content on Philippine native trees, among others.

One of these videos is about Narra, which is the country’s national tree. Like all her other videos, she prompted viewers to share their own stories.

Some Filipinos under the comment section then shared childhood stories marked by the majestic presence of tall Narra trees, whether in the playground, backyard, or at school.

“Heto ang kuwentong Narra ko. Sa pathway ng school namin noong elementary ay maraming nakahelerang Narra. Every graduation, habang nag-mamartsa ay nag-lalagas yung mga bulaklak. The best moment yun!,” one user commented.

Meanwhile, another TikTok user wrote, “Narra is definitely the cherry blossom of the Philippines. So pretty pag flowering season nila.”

Murillo’s newest series of videos is called “Saribuhay sa Salapi” which features the plants and animals illustrated in Philippine coins and banknotes.

Alongside her husband Dennis Murillo, she lives in a camper van to take on a non-stop road trip around the country, in a continuous bid to capture the richness of life.

They share their journey on their YouTube channel @CelineAndDennisMurillo.