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“Life changing” is how Atom Araullo describes his experience filming his first documentary with GMA News and Public Affairs.

Atom returned to the Kapuso Network last September, and immediately began filming for his new documentary Philippine Seas, a special that hopes to uncover the wonders and threats surrounding the Philippines’ marine gems. To really get to know the Philippine seas, Atom went on a rigorous ten-day expedition across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao where he experienced many firsts in his career as a documentary-maker.

In Moalboal, Cebu’s world-famous dive site, Atom witnesses hundreds of thousands of sardines gather in a single ball in a moment that he can only describe as “impressive”. While in nearby Bais, Negros Oriental, he looks into the current situation of dolphins once being caught and slaughtered before becoming the province’s leading tourist attraction. Here, Atom encounters a group of “bow-riders”, dolphins that ride alongside passenger boats.

But not all encounters are so easy. Off the coast of Sarangani, Atom experiences what life is like for tuna fishermen who wait days for a single catch. Under the harsh elements, Atom and his team witness the daily struggles of those who rely on the seas for a living. The most heartbreaking moment is discovering a group of fishermen detained in Indonesia for fishing in foreign waters. Atom talks to Samuel, a fisherman who has not seen his newborn child since being detained in Indonesia. Through the Philippine Seas team, Samuel gets a chance to look at his newborn daughter for the first time.

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The dwindling sea catch has forced many small fishermen to cross international boundaries in hopes of feeding their families. Yet international poaching remains a huge problem in the Philippines too. In Palawan, Atom and his team visit the site where sharks were recently confiscated from Vietnamese poachers.

Yet all hope is not lost. In the same seas of Palawan, Atom comes face to face with the biggest sea turtle he has ever seen, proof that there is still something worth saving here. And finally, the team behind Philippine Seas also get the surprise of their lives when a rare and beautiful creature makes an appearance. Once thought to be a mermaid in the olden times, the dugong or sea cow has an almost mythical status in the world of divers and fishermen.

In this special documentary, GMA Public Affairs will also feature the exploration and expedition on the 13-million hectare Philippine Rise. On top of the teeming corals and marine species, it is said that this undersea plateau is potentially a rich source of natural gas and other resources. Is it true that the Philippine Rise can deliver the country from poverty?

Join Atom Araullo and the team behind GMA Public Affairs’ award-winning documentaries for an unforgettable look at the current state of the country’s oceans.

Catch Philippine Seas on November 5, 3:30 p.m. on GMA 7.

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