Honoring sustainability champions

Published November 25, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Johannes Chua


Last night, the 1st Manila Bulletin Sustainability Forum concluded with a special Recognition Event at the City of Dreams Manila. Sustainability programs or initiatives from 14 companies and one government agency were cited by Manila Bulletin as those that went “beyond green.” Appropriately, “Beyond Green” is also the theme of this first Sustainability Forum organized by the country’s leading newspaper brand.

I will list down the 15 honorees with the intention of explaining each one in detail in the upcoming days and weeks, so that more people will be aware of these sustainability initiatives.

The 15 honorees are the following: SM Prime Holdings, Inc. for its ESG +R Programs; Arthaland Corporation for its Net Zero Carbon Initiative; Megaworld Corporation for its Commitment to Building Sustainable Offices; Filinvest Alabang, Inc. for Filinvest City; City of Dreams Manila for the Elimination of Single-Use Plastic Within Its Integrated Resort; Wilcon Depot, Inc. for its Green Solutions: Greening our Branches Initiative; Watsons Personal Care Stores (Phils.) Inc. for its Sustainable Choices Program; Unilever Philippines, Inc. for its Kabisig Summit; Lixil Philippines, Inc. for Grohe Goes Zero;

DOT SECRETARY Christina G. Frasco talks about sustainable tourism.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) for its Blueprint for Sustainable Tourism in the Philippines; Bank of the Philippine Islands for its Sustainable Development Finance Program; International Container Terminal Services, Inc. for its Victoria-Anepaan Mountain Range Wildlife Conservation Project; Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. for the Rice Husk Solution; Coca-Cola Philippines for its Vision of a World Without Waste; and Toyota Motor Philippines for its Sustainable Mobility Initiative.

It would be an injustice to just list down these programs as I know the importance of making more people and more organizations aware that there is something that they can do (and adapt in their own spaces) for the planet. For example, SM is the biggest mall developer in the country and its every move will impact lives, businesses, and the country in general. Knowing that SM has a very strong disaster preparedness and resilience program is a comforting (and hopeful) assurance that they are doing their part to save this planet for future generations. Ditto with Megaworld as it is the country’s largest office developer and lessor. Whatever it does will have a long-lasting impact on businesses, communities down to office workers.

The organizer, Manila Bulletin (MB), is also doing its share to become a sustainable company. Unknown to many, the MB management has already championed environment-friendly practices even before the sustainability wave set in. According to Badette Cunanan, PR and CSR manager, the 3Rs are part of the MB DNA. “3Rs, which is ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle,’ are part of our operations and infrastructure. For example, you can see these in our main office in Intramuros. Our offices were redesigned to use the palochina woods as wall panels. This made ventilation better, reducing reliance on air-conditioning, and it was aesthetically more pleasing. We also have another kind of ornamental light fixture mounted on our ceilings. These are intricately created and repurposed printing plates. These are thin, flat sheets of metal made of aluminum. And I don’t want to miss out on our Christmas wall decor, which are made from the kraft papers used to cover the newsprint rolls. You will see these in our main office lobby. When lit-up, it will give you that wonderful holiday feeling.”

Badette also added that there are various vertical gardens and an open-air rooftop garden in the main MB office. “What’s nice here is that all materials used in these gardens are made from recycled items. Aside from promoting urban gardening, these greens help promote wellbeing among our employees, as indoor plants are shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and helps rid the air of harmful toxins and chemicals.”

“Our responsibility as a sustainability-driven company does not end in our spaces alone. We try to influence our customers, clients, and the public as well. As an example, we have continuously promoted recycling to our readers through the ‘Newspaper-Christmas Tree-Making’ contest, which challenges Filipinos to creatively come up with the best Christmas tree using only the pages of the Manila Bulletin,” Badette said. “I’m proud to announce that it is already on its 20th year this December. It is a very successful campaign that highlights the value of MB and our advocacy of Reading, Recycling, and Rekindling family bonds through an activity that they all could be involved in. Many wonderful stories have emerged from this project and we plan to continue sharing their stories in the years to come.”

It is also a positive development that a government agency, the DOT now led by Sec. Christina G. Frasco, is also calling on stakeholders to implement sustainable tourism. In the past, it was the other way around with the private sector calling on government agencies to practice sustainability. I was also impressed with Sec. Frasco’s presentation during the Sustainability Forum as she has a concrete example of a sustainable tourism project in Cebu — implemented by the municipality of Aloguinsan.

In the coming days and weeks, I will write more about the stories of each of the honorees on the pages and online platforms of MB. You have to know them and be aware that there are companies taking up the cudgels to save the environment. Their collective response is one of hope — as long as everyone is working, cooperating, and moving in one direction.

Allow me to quote one of the speakers of the forum, which I found very profound. From Viki Encarnacion, PR and Sustainability director of Watsons Personal Care Stores (Phils.) Inc.: “We understand that our responsibilities go beyond health and beauty retail. We are committed to creating a shared mission, together with our stakeholders, to inspire change, leading to a more sustainable world. With an estimated monthly average of 20 million foot traffic, we see this rare opportunity to influence our customers to live more sustainably. We are committed to make an impact on our framework under our community, our people, our customers, our planet. What you might find unique here is the distinct mention of our customers. And why not? After all, they are the heart of what we do as a retailer.”