Inspiring Filipinos to become advocates for the environment

Published December 10, 2020, 2:41 AM

by Johannes Chua

The devastation caused by successive typhoons last month once again highlighted issues on climate change. With damage wrought upon property and livelihood, we could not neglect the environment any further.

Even with the dire news, it is not yet too late. We can contribute something, even in our own little ways, to fight climate change and to help heal the planet. For inspiration, there are Filipinos among us, such as fisherman Teodoro Canda and former actor Illac Diaz, who could encourage us to take that “green journey.”

Canda, who lives in the coastal barangay of Tigao in Surigao del Sur, formed the group Nagpakabanang Mananagat sa Tigao (NAMATI) or Concerned Fishers of Tigao. Through the years, he has seen how fishermen harm their very source of livelihood. Hence, Canda and his organization educate people on the importance of marine life, the dangers of illegal fishing activities like dynamite fishing, and how these affect their main source of income.

In 2018, Teodoro Canda was awarded for his marine protection efforts in Surigao del Sur through his group Nagpakabanang Mananagat sa Tigao (NAMATI) or Concerned Fishers of Tigao.

For Canda, caring for the environment is not only the responsibility of one or two organizations. According to him, every effort counts. “Ang pangangalaga ng ating kalikasan ay hindi lang responsibilidad ng mga organisasyon. Tayong lahat na mga Pilipino ay dapat pangalagaan ang ating kalikasan kasi ‘yan ang yaman ng susunod na henerasyon (Taking care of the environment is not only the responsibility of organizations. All of us Filipinos must take care of the environment because that is the wealth of the next generation),” said Canda. His goal for the future is to create more projects that will help in the protection and preservation of the environment. 

NAMATI initially guarded a marine protected area and its efforts paid off when the marine sanctuaries and fishing grounds began to grow.

On the other hand, Diaz brought light to so many lives through his “Liter of Light” project. The project provides a sustainable light source in poor areas without access to electricity through solar-powered lights made out of recycled water bottles.

In 2019, Illac Diaz was recognized for providing a sustainable light source to poor areas without access to electricity through his Liter of Light project. Ramon and Silvana Diaz, parents of Diaz, received the award on his behalf 

“More than 1.5 million households have already benefitted. Every year, the number becomes bigger. Those who were given light experienced a big positive change in their lives, benefitting their family as well,” said Diaz. 

Though they are from different backgrounds and from different parts of the country, their contributions to uplift our fellowmen and to save the environment are commendable. Both of them were recognized by Ginebra San Miguel, with its “Ginebra Ako Awards.”

Canda was cited with the “Ginebra Ako Award Para sa Kalikasan” in 2018, while Diaz was the recipient in 2019. The award-giving body, now on its third year, honors the heroic deeds of Filipinos who are serving and making a difference in their communities.

This year’s awards will also pay tribute to Covid-19 heroes in three categories. Winners will receive a cash prize, certificate, and trophy. The “Ginebra Ako Awards Year 3: Pagkakaisa sa Gitna ng Pandemya” virtual awarding ceremony will air on Dec. 19.