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Journalists Revive Kids’ Environment Awareness Program

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Journalists Revive Kids’ Environment Awareness Program

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Journalists based here are strengthening their 32-year-old children’s environmental awareness and values formation program by volunteering as facilitators and tour guides in the program that was later on adopted by the local government here.

The local government adopted the local journalists’ annual program called Lucky Summer Visitor (LSV), held during the Holy Week since 1992, and called it Eco Walk as part of its Climate Change Adaptation program.

The local government program, which was chosen as Galing Pook awardee in 1995 and among the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) “Global 500” awardee in 2002, took a back seat during the previous local government administration.

Thomas Picaña, Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBCI) president and publisher-editor of the local weekly newspaper “Amianan Balita Ngayon” said he is thankful that local journalists remain committed to the program instituted by their colleagues some three decades ago

“Sana ay magpatuloy ang suporta niyong mga kasama sa trabaho sa pangangalaga natin ng watersheds dito sa syudad ng Baguio (I am hopeful that you, our media practitioners, will continue to care for our watersheds in the city),” he said in a speech during the relaunch of the program at the Busol Watershed this Wednesday.

Picaña said the bid to revive the program was because of a dream.

“Nanaginip ako nagkakape kami nila MonDacs (former journalists and former Baguio City Public Information Office head Ramon Dacawi) sa Luisa’s (a media water hole). Pina-interpret ko sa misis ko. Sabi nya baka may gusto syang iparating, baka may pinapa-alala (I dreamed of having a coffee with MonDacs at Luisa’s. I asked by wife to interpret it. She said MonDac’s might be telling me something, might be wanting me to remember something),” he said.

Arthur Joel Tibaldo, also known as “Artibal”, a retired government worker who was among those who joined the group that started the environment protection program, said he and Dacawi were members of the Baguio Regreening Movement, then led by Bishop Ernesto Salgado.

“We were asked by the Bishop to come up with an environmental advocacy and values formation (program) for children to inculcate in them the value of protecting the environment. As a group, the old media practitioners met and discussed and there came the Eco Walk,” he said.

He later on led a group of Grades 5 and 6 students from Rizal Elementary School here to the Busol Watershed, one of the biggest water sources of the city.

“We asked where their water was coming from and they said it was from the faucet. When asked where the water is coming from, they said it is from the trees. We asked if they wanted to go to the forest and see a lot of trees, they said yes and everything was history,” he said.

Schools then started to adopt an area in Busol, which was called “muyong”, to help protect the forest and the water system in Ifugao, where Mondacs is a native.

Companies also adopted muyongs, which were planted with trees during the rainy season and were cared for during off-planting season.

Aileen Refuerzo, who succeeded Dacawi as Baguio City PIO chief and whose husband is also among the conceptualizers of the Eco-Walk said, “It (the program) was not just (about) planting.”

“The children will first be given a mini-lecture at the “forest classroom”, a shed established in an area where activities and lectures are conducted. The participants will also have games like finding the longest pine, biggest pine cone and later the web of life which connects living things to each other,” she said during the event.

With Tibaldo now serving as the program’s lead tour guide and facilitator, Refuerzo said the group is recruiting other media practitioners who will be trained to join the team of facilitators and tour guides.

“We are reviving the Eco Walk. Interested groups or schools who want to do the Eco-walk can contact us at the PIO-Baguio office and we will organize it with the BCBCI,” she said.

 

Community for Climate Change Adaptation

Tam Jewel Tibaldo, 34, grew up joining Eco Walk activities and other media programs like the LSV with her parents.

“Growing up, I saw the value of my participation in the Eco Walk program, the Lucky Summer Visitor program of the media. Those small experiences, put together, molded me as a person,” she said in Filipino during the relaunching event.

Now based in Manila, Tam said the environment-related activities inculcated in her not just the love for the environment but also the sense of community.”

“I would always tell anyone, because I am Manila-based now, (the importance of) the sense of community. We are a small community in Baguio but our tightness as a community (is strong). Everyone is a “manong” (older brother), “manang” (older sister), “tito” (uncle), and “tita” (auntie), and a family, not just friends,” she said.

 

Importance of Busol

Busol Watershed is one of the several watersheds being maintained by the city government and the Baguio Water District (BWD) as source of potable water for the residents.

“Busol is very important because this supplies nine to 10 percent of the city’s water connections in 16 of the 128 barangays (villages) in the Aurora Hill and Pacdal sides of the city,” Keith Andrei Cacas, BWD water utilities management officer, said.

It has an area of 336 hectares, with about two-thirds or 227 hectares on the side of La Trinidad, Benguet and 112 hectares in Baguio City. The Baguio side is 80 percent forested while the La Trinidad side is still being reforested.

“We do regular patrolling to monitor illegal structures and encroachments as a protection of our water,” said Hugh Palangdao Jr., BWD watershed management officer. (PNA)