First Gen employees hold hi-tech tree-planting, fund-raising activity

Sep 24, 2020

Employee volunteers from First Gen Corporation held a hi-tech and innovative tree-planting activity in the midst of the pandemic, and raised in the process thousands of pesos in donations for indigents in a Batangas town whose means of livelihood have been affected by the coronavirus.

The employees from the Lopez-led power company, along with other volunteers from parent firm First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH), planted over a thousand mangrove saplings in Lobo, Batangas, from afar – meaning, while they were inside their homes in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Lopez Group volunteers belonging to the Employee POWER (EmPOWER) Program accomplished the long-distance activity on Sept. 19 by joining what they called “e-Planting,” a virtual tree-planting project that the employees – some as far as Mindanao -- implemented in coordination with community partners in Lobo.

“The e-Planting project works like the ‘theater seat’ booking process. To join, a volunteer or donor logs in to the EmPOWER Program’s e-Planting website and picks a preferred planting hole in almost the same way one would book for a cinema seat online,” said Adrian Balicuatro, a volunteer of EmPOWER, which is the Lopez Group employees’ own arm to implement civic and community projects.

“The employee then fills out a Google form or information sheet, clicks on his or her preferred mode of payment and ‘adopts’ a mangrove seedling costing P150 apiece. As a donor, the volunteer’s name is imprinted on a bamboo slat, placed beside the adopted mangrove as its plant marker,” Balicuatro added.

For their initial e-Planting, the volunteers raised funds for   1,204 seedlings, which were planted not by the employees but by other volunteers from two recipient community organizations in Lobo -- the Olo-Olo Seaside Workers Association and Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan sa Brgy. Lagadlarin. Through Facebook and the Zoom app, the donors joined the activity virtually.

Apart from benefiting the environment, this project also augmented the income of 55 members from these two partner people’s organizations in Lobo that received the proceeds from the fund-raising portion of the e-Planting project. 

Lobo with its white-sand beaches was a popular tourist destination, but that was before the pandemic. Since the onset of Covid-19, the flow of tourists to this town located 140 kilometers to the south of Manila has all but stopped.

Employees of FPH and subsidiary First Gen, which is the country’s leading clean and renewable company, regularly conduct tree-planting activities in support of the Lopez Group’s commitment to protect and enhance the environment. Covid-19, however, has disrupted their conventional tree-planting and other community activities.

With help from pro-environment groups Project Center of Center and Create for the Climate initiatives, the innovative e-Planting platform took shape. The e-Planting platform provided a link between the FPH and First Gen volunteers and several organizations helping the indigents. These helpful groups included the local government of Lobo, the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, and the Lobo Marine Environment Conservation Federation.

“The e-Planting highlights the spirit of Bayanihan through volunteerism. It has raised funds for families in Lobo whose means of livelihood from eco-tourism activities have been largely affected by the pandemic. At the same time, e-Planting allows us to express and reaffirm the Lopez Group’s commitment to a decarbonized and regenerative future,” explained Ramon Araneta, First Gen vice president.

Members of two community organizations in Lobo, Batangas (first photo), wave their hands to Lopez Group employees (second photo) who joined the tree planting in Lobo as virtual participants from Metro Manila and other parts of the country. Through an innovative e-Planting platform, the Lopez Group employees “booked” their participation by donating P150 for each tree sapling they adopted in the tree-planting activity. During the actual tree planting the employees joined virtually through the Facebook and the Zoom software applications.