Sabado, Agosto 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Tree project: a call for unified action to give back to the environment

“There are three things that make one immortal: writing a book, siring a son, and planting a tree.”

These were the words from Philippine Information Agency-NCR Regional Director Riza Baldoria spoken to hundreds of eager participants of the “Happy Birthday Tree” project held on August 30 at the La Mesa Watershed and Ecopark in Quezon City.

While the above adage does not necessarily hold true in terms of bestowing physical immortality to a human being, it would definitely leave a legacy to the world that would impact other people’s lives one way or another.

The “Happy Birthday Tree” project aims to do exactly that: to perpetuate life by providing a conducive living space for the next generation to enjoy.

A project of the Pilipinas Natin, the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s (PCOO) volunteerism arm mandated to connect government with the people through volunteerism, the Happy Birthday Tree is an act of commitment by the people to care for the environment through a sustained tree-planting activity. The initiative would ultimately build healthy, humane, and nurturing communities in an empowered nation.

In the midst of countless tree-planting activities being undertaken all throughout the country following the massive greening campaign of the government through Executive Order 26 or the National Greening Program (NGP), the Happy Birthday Tree is unique in its own right.

For one, it encourages “volunteers” to plant tree saplings, the number of which is equal to their age. The task goes on thereafter, as each year on their birthday, volunteers would continue planting at least one tree. And just as one would take care of himself or herself to sustain life, the project encourages the tree-planters to monitor their own trees until such time that these have grown fully.

Director Baldoria said that the activity is a way of giving back to the environment, which because of our excessive and mindless use, has deteriorated greatly over the years.

“And now, all our collective human activities has reached a point where a bigger problem has arisen--- climate change that threatens the world today,” Baldoria added.

She also explained that the Happy Birthday Tree is among the climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that we need to undertake to at least curb the ill effects of the said global phenomenon.

Meanwhile, PIA Director General Jose Mari Oquinena challenges every Filipino to go back to man’s natural ways for the redemption of the environment.

"What is the natural thing that we should be doing? And what should die in us Filipinos every day to be angels of the environment, the Filipino people, and of the country so that in the future, Filipinos would be known as heroes – a race that gave their all for the environment and offered their lives for their country?”

The Happy Birthday Tree, which was launched in 2013, saw supporters and advocates not only from different government agencies, but also from the private sector and different academic institutions all over the country.

The activity signals the beginning of an extensive tree-planting project in NCR, with another one set in October in Muntinlupa City.

The project is also supportive of the NGP’s target of planting some 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5-million hectares nationwide to promote resource conservation and protection, productivity enhancement, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and poverty reduction.

The Happy Birthday Tree is organized by the Pilipinas Natin, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and PIA. The Quezon City leg of the project was in participation of Canon Philippines, LBC Foundation, JCI, AFP-CRS, Phil.Navy, Phil.Army, Phil.Air Force, La Consolacion Manila, Ateneo de Manila, Adamson University, and Rescue 926. #

Linggo, Agosto 3, 2014

Positive action sought during Metro Manila-wide launch of climate change advocacy campaign

 “Awareness and understanding of climate change and its effects will develop concern among Filipinos, which later on would lead us towards acting on this global phenomenon.”

This cuts across the different sectors of the society namely government, media, the academe, the private sector, and the youth as all should unite in taking care of the environment, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio during the August 1 launch of climate change advocacy campaign in Metro Manila.

Ignacio said that the country, which was once rich in natural resources, currently has the smallest forest coverage in southeast Asia, covering only one-fourth of its total land area.  

“With this, the Philippines is one of the countries most at risk due to climate change. According to studies, at the end of the 21st century, water level in the country will rise to three (3) feet, and many of our towns will then become coral reefs,” he explained particularly to the students of the Mines Elementary School who were in attendance during the said affair.

Held at the PIA Auditorium of the PIA Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City, the launch of the Climate Change Advocacy Campaign in the National Capital Region (NCR) is the beginning of a massive information and education drive on climate change for Metro Manila residents that will help raise their consciousness on the said phenomenon.

The project, spearheaded by DENR-NCR and PIA-NCR, will make use of various media to cater to the information needs of the different information consumers in NCR. Among the activities to be carried out throughout the year are puppet shows in public schools, video features, social media campaign, print and broadcast media, social mobilization for tree-planting and youth camps, e-comics posting, etc.

PIA-NCR Regional Director Riza Baldoria said that everyone should be concerned and should take the responsibility to act to curb the effects of climate change.

Using the five Ks (Kaalaman (Awareness), Kamalayan (Consciousness), Kahandaan (Preparedness), Kakayahan (Capability), and Kaisahan/Korrdinasyon (Unity) explained by PCOO Secretary Sonny Coloma during the July 18 nationwide launch of climate change campaign, she said that the fight against climate change would lead to more positive results.

“The activities to be implemented in NCR are vital in providing relevant information to the people on climate change, its impacts, and adaptation and mitigation measures,” Baldoria said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Jess Anthony Yu said that at the wake of devastating calamities such as typhoon Ondoy and Habagat that hit Metro Manila in the past years, a significant number of people need to know what climate change really is.

“Filipinos should change their perspective on how to deal with climate change. Everyone in government should not only do his or her job in information dissemination, we should all be advocates of a well-informed citizenry ready with the effects of climate change. It is our duty to provide information for the safety and benefit of our fellow men,” Yu urged the members of the government’s communication arm who would also play a key role in the climate change advocacy campaign.

Meanwhile Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Director General Jose Mari Oquiñena reminded the stakeholders in the country’s battle with climate change to “have the passion and make it a personal decision to take care of the environment.”

He said that we have to go back to what is natural to us, and that is “taking care of the home we are in—a decision to make for the greater good.”

He also challenged the younger generation to remind the old that being a hero is an opportunity and a calling for everybody.

“We should bear in mind to try our best so that when our time ends, we can say to our children how much love we have given for the environment, and how we changed the things we have to change for them to enjoy the environment we have now… We didn’t have to compromise our values, something the next generation should also do in order to see the beauty there is here,” Oquiñena added.