First Gen employees undertake hi-tech tree planting activity for fund-raising

Published September 27, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the employee-volunteers of First Gen Corporation had not passed up on a virtuous chance to raise thousands of pesos for a charity drive to help indigents in Batangas, part of the community hosting the company’s power projects.

The platform they employed was a hi-tech and innovative tree planting activity enabled through the aid of Facebook and Zoom apps – and it is considered a pioneering approach under the ‘new normal’ paradigm of living weaved in a health crisis.

Members of two community organizations in Lobo, Batangas (left photo), wave their hands to Lopez Group employees (right photo) who joined the tree planting in Lobo as virtual participants from Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The employees of First Gen had gotten much-needed support from volunteer-peers, mainly coming from its parent firm First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH).

They planted over a thousand mangrove saplings in Lobo, Batangas – but the difference was, they have done it virtually or from afar – meaning, they were inside their homes in Metro Manila and other parts of the country (some are as far as Mindanao) while pursing that tree planting activity.

“The Lopez group volunteers belonging to the Employee POWER (EmPOWER) Program accomplished the long-distance activity on September 19 by joining what they called e-planting,” the company said. EmPOWER is the Lopez Group employees’ arm on implementing civic and community programs.

The virtual tree planting drive works in a way that is akin to a ‘theater seat’ booking process, according to Adrian Balicuatro, a volunteer of EmPOWER.

 To join, he explained that “a volunteer or donor logs in to the EmPOWER program’s e-planting website and picks the preferred planting hole in almost the same way one would book for a cinema seat online.”

Following that, he said “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.”

Then as a donor, Balicuatro noted, “the volunteer’s name is imprinted on a bamboo slat, placed beside the adopted mangrove as its plant marker.”

“The e-planting highlights the spirit of Bayanihan through volunteerism,” First Gen Vice President Ramon Araneta said, and it was a worthy cause to help lift the lives of families in Lobo “whose means of livelihood from eco-tourism activities have been largely affected by the pandemic.”

He highlighted that the recent virtual tree planting activity, “allows us to express and reaffirm the Lopez Group’s commitment to a decarbonized and regenerative future.”

First Gen said 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” – namely, the Olo-Olo Seaside Workers Association and Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan sa Barangay Lagadlarin.

The company cited that “apart from benefitting 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.”

Several groups also lent support to the activity, including pro-environment groups Project Center of Center and Create for the Climate initiatives, the local government of Lobo, the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and the Lobo Marine Environment Conservation Federation.

Pre-pandemic, Lobo has been a flourishing tourist destination, with the white sand beaches becoming the enthralling feature to visitors.

The e-virtual planting activity is just one of the many programs being advanced by the Lopez group on this sphere. Aside from the conglomerate’s commitment to invest only in clean and renewable energy sources, it also upholds that noble commitment “to protect and enhance the environment.”