Prior to becoming a public official, Deputy Speaker and Antique Lone District Representative Loren Legarda was a multi-awarded broadcast journalist. She was an anchor of the highly-regarded and award-winning news program, The World Tonight. She was also the anchor and producer of two of the country’s most popular and respected news programs — The Inside Story and PEP Talk.
But she shares that her childhood dream was to become an astronaut. That dream was formed as she would repeatedly gaze up on the beautiful clear night skies at their family compound in Malabon. She wanted to reach the moon and the stars that shone so brightly. It was also in the same Malabon compound where she would run around in the lush green scenery of their open space; she would chase butterflies and dragonflies and climb mango trees.
She never became an astronaut as life led her to journalism and public service. Instead, she advocated for legislation and programs that will preserve the liveability of our towns and cities.
In her three terms as senator, Deputy Speaker Legarda has authored and sponsored numerous laws on various concerns, but many of them on environmental protection, climate resilience, and sustainable development. Among the laws she authored are the Clean Air Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, Environmental Awareness Education Act, Renewable Energy Law, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Climate Change Law, the People’s Survival Fund Law, Green Jobs Act, and the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.
Her environmental advocacy is one that has been recognized both here and abroad. Her alma mater, the University of the Philippines, recognized her as its distinguished alumna for environmental protection and climate change adaptation. She is a global champion for resilience of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and a national adaptation plan champion of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). She is also a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) laureate and a UN Hero of Resilience.
Deputy Speaker Legarda is one who walks her talk. Her home and office are perfect examples of the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law—separate trash bins for non-biodegrable, biodegradable, recyclable, and paper that can be reused. She discourages the use of plastics and upcycles anything that can be upcycled—old wood and antique Capiz windows as cabinets, bottles as chandeliers, wood pallets as tables, and many more. She also plants what she eats, growing vegetables and fruits in her backyard garden and in her small farm using organic compost from food waste and dried leaves. She even has a rainwater catchment using recycled and indigenous materials.
While she has already authored many environmental laws, Deputy Speaker Legarda recognizes the need for more, such as the Single-Use Plastics Ban and the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System (PENCAS) Bill, which seeks to develop and implement an ecosystem and natural accounting system and which will give importance to the role, value, and impact of our country’s natural resources on the economy.
As to why she never tires of fighting for the environment, Deputy Speaker Legarda explains it in a recent privilege speech at the House Plenary:
“We should not only view our environment in terms of our needs or what it can provide to us, but also in terms of losses if we continue to exploit and extract from it mindlessly and indiscriminately. As the impacts of climate change become more prevalent, the higher is the right of the poor to social protection and the higher is the duty of us in government to reduce their disaster vulnerability and liberate them from the vicious cycle of poverty and risk.”