From the reefs up to the ridges, Lopez Group of Companies conducted several online and on-site activities in celebration of the Philippine Environment Month this June 2021, with the theme, “Pathways to Uniting Ecosystems and Society”. The month-long celebration primarily aimed to increase the environmental awareness of the stakeholders and grow with communities as we forward our conservation efforts towards a decarbonized and regenerative future. First Gen Corporation through its Corporate Social Responsibility group (First Gen - CSR) collaborated with ABS-CBN’s Bantay Kalikasan, Energy Development Corporation, and Oscar M. Lopez Center for this environment month marking.
First Gen - CSR hosted three events that tackles: ocean, life, and livelihoods; mangrove tourism and conservation; and climate change.
SEAtizen Story: The Ocean and the Community
In celebration of World Oceans Day, June 8, First Gen - CSR spotlighted the stories of Lobo, Batangas’ local community -- the importance of the ocean in sustaining their lives and their livelihoods.
First Gen’s Vice President for External Affairs, Mr. Ramon Araneta, commenced the webinar by emphasizing the importance of celebrating the environment to raise awareness and more calls of participation in conservation efforts. He then pointed out that protecting the planet starts with self -- where one may grow their own food, volunteer in environmental activities, conserve water and electricity, to name a few. Mr. Araneta ended that beyond sustainability, First Gen together with its SEAtizens and communities are now on its way to achieving its mission of a regenerative future.
Through the SEAtizen Story videos, attendees heard first hand the narratives of the local communities of Lobo, Batangas. The story featured people’s organizations, sea patrolers, and the local government of Lobo. They shared the beauty beneath the waves and how valuable the ocean is for them.
For the Lobo community, the ocean is their life and in return, they value and protect it. Threats such as waste, illegal fishing, and strong typhoons come by to their municipality, but they are now proudly implementing practices together with private groups and the national government. These acts of environmentalism resulted in awards and a richer marine biodiversity.
More than the inspiration that the videos showcased, various interactive learning activities were held to heighten the marine conservation awareness of the attendees. Throughout the program, there were polling questions, a fun quiz, and a community fishing game.
Ms. Shirley Cruz, Vice President of First Gen Corporation, ended the storytelling by acknowledging the importance of local communities in managing ecosystems and how cross-sectoral collaborations are able to maintain marine ecosystem balance -- that everything and everyone is interconnected from reef to ridges.
SEAtizen Travels: A Virtual Mangrove Tour
From the ocean now to the coast, the second installment of SEAtizen webinar is a virtual mangrove tour. Over a hundred joiners spent their afternoon for a close-up mangrove forest exploration at the comfort of their homes and right at their fingertips. The tour was led by Mavic Macatangay of Lagadlarin Mangrove Forest in Lobo, Batangas; followed by a mangrove conversation with Dr. Laura David, Director of UP Marine Science Institute.
Attendees traveled through a virtual First Gen bus to Lobo, Batangas; and the pack was welcomed by Vanessa Mae Castillo, Tourism Head of Lobo. Castillo looks forward to welcoming tourists onsite soon.
On the virtual tour proper, Mavic Macatangay, Tour Guide of Lagadlarin Mangrove Forest walked us through the one kilometer boardwalk. The ecopark is being managed by a people’s organization -- Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan sa Barangay Lagadlarin (SMMPKBL).
Over 30 species of mangroves are housed across the ecopark and each has an interesting indigenous knowledge. Mavic Macatangay shared that the mangroves are very important because of its several ecosystem services offered such as a nesting ground for fishes that contributes to food security, protection of coastlines from natural disasters, and natural solution to climate crisis.
Mangroves also help the community Mavic Macatangay belongs to because it sustains their lives through eco-tourism among others. Pandemic may have postponed tourism activities but they are able to cope with by offering e-planting activities to individuals and groups -- which was pioneered by First Gen Employee Volunteers in 20201.
After virtually traversing the long stretch of mangroves in Lagadlarin, Dr. Laura David, one of the leading physical oceanographers in the Philippines and Director of UP Marine Science Institute comprehensively shared her perspective as a scientist. Dr. David affirmed the practices of SMMPKBL for planting the correct mangrove species and for properly managing the ecopark. She also impressed in her talk that even though mangroves are misunderstood and underprotected, we need to put mangroves in the limelight of conservation as these play a big role in balancing ecosystems.
Capping off the event is Ms. Janice Dugan, Manager of First Gen - CSR. One of the highlights is that Ms. Dugan said that every joiner’s attendance is converted into an entrance fee shouldered by First Gen. Contributions will go to families and individuals of Barangay Lagadlarin whose livelihoods on ecotourism have been greatly affected by the pandemic.
1Velasco, M. M. (2020, September 27). First Gen employees undertake hi-tech tree planting activity for fund-raising. Manila Bulletin. https://mb.com.ph/2020/09/27/first-gen-employees-undertakes-hi-tech-tree-planting-activity-for-fund-raising/.
What’s Heating Up? A Webinar on Climate Change 101
More on the celebration of the environment month is First Balfour teaming up with First Gen - CSR to conduct a webinar about climate change. Strategic Business Planning Head of First Balfour, Macky De Lima expressed his intention to bring in his colleagues in a worthy cause to fight climate change.
First of the many steps is the webinar that aimed to involve their management trainees on climate change narratives and arm them with knowledge and understanding of the global environment crisis, resulting in more responsible actions for the environment. During the webinar, employees proudly shared their current household practices that includes eating plant-based meals, thrift shopping, being a certified plantitos and plantitas, and turning plastic waste into exercise equipment.