Celebrating Earth Day: The Freedom Island coastal clean-up | Earth Island Institute – Philippines

25 Apr

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Angela Colmenares ‘s insight:

Published in the Philippine Online Chronicles
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 15:27 Angela Colmenares


More than 200 people, mostly environmentalists, celebrated the Earth Day with a whole day coastal clean-up at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) last April 20, 2013.


The coastal clean-up, led by Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM), Earth Island Institute (EII) and partner organizations, served as a kick-off for a series of activities including photo and art contests, culinary competitions, bird lecture series, nature walk, essay writing, and other activities for the youth running up to the Ocean Month and International Fishermen’s Day in June.


According to SFIM & EII, the campaign seeks to promote awareness and appreciation of the environment as well as a demonstration of protection and restoration activities. The campaign is aimed to inspire people to clean up their surroundings and to sound the alarm regarding worsening environmental depletion, the group said.



The Importance of Freedom Island


The Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), also known as Freedom Island, is a bird sanctuary in an urban setting that was recently added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. It is said to be the last mangrove area in the National Capital Region (NCR) and has recently become controversial due to a widely-opposed P14 billion reclamation plan.


Groups say this will endanger its biodiversity and will spell peril for the livelihood of local fisherfolks depending on its rich marine resources.

The mangrove ecosystem serves as a feeding, nesting and nursery grounds for commercially important fish, prawns, mollusks, crabs and shellfish. High levels of organic matter found in the mangrove ecosystem means high productivity; this means more diverse range of living species can be supported.


It also functions as a habitat area for a wide array of organisms from planktons to birds. About more than 80 species of endemic and migratory birds were documented by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) and DENR-NCR in the area. The list includes the already vulnerable Philippine Duck, Chinese Egret and the Pied Avocet.


Mangroves are said to be the Earth’s “natural filtering system,” that absorbs pollutants like heavy metals, sewage drains, and toxic substances; stabilizes coastlines by catching sediments washed downstream; and help protect coral reefs and sea grasses from being smothered by such pollutants. It also forms a natural barrier, which protects the shore from sea surges especially during typhoons, and absorbs carbon dioxide that lessens the impact of global warming.


However, mangrove forests in Metro Manila were diminished years ago by massive reclamation projects. Threats of reclamation, relentless dumping of wastes and pollution continue to remain.



A continuing battle for Freedom Island and children


The inclusion of Freedom Island to the RAMSAR list is a small victory for environmental groups and concerned citizens calling for the protection of the critical animal habitat.


“But the battle isn’t over yet. Proponents of the reclamation projects in Manila Bay are still pushing for their plan. While the government is more concerned of the profit that foreign investors would generate, thousands of families would be affected by loss of livelihood and shelter, floods, storm surges, and other environmental disasters that reclamations may cause,” says Glacy Macabale of Save Freedom Island Movement.


To demonstrate the saying “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but borrow it from our children,” a group of children from the Bulungan Market community of Paranaque wore “environmental head gears” and performed an Earth dance to jumpstart the program.


“We live in very critical times. Our actions to save the environment now will have an impact on how our children will live tomorrow. We all need to act now,” Trixie Concepcion of Earth Island Institute said.


“This action is important as choosing the next leaders in the future. Now that we are in the election period, we must choose the right leaders with good track records on protecting the environment and the people. We are doing our part, the government should also do theirs,” Concepcion added.


Among the personalities and organizations who joined and supported the coastal clean-up event are Ms. Earth Philippines 2013 candidates, actor Raymond Bagatsing, Villar Foundation, Office of Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, Akap-Bata Partylist, Kabataan Partylist, local fisherfolks from the Unified Marketing Services Cooperative, Stewards of Creation, HBC employees, Young Nacionalistas, Smart Mountaineers, UP Minggan, and volunteers from different environmental groups.



Photos by Angela Colmenares

See on www.earthislandph.org

Travel tips: How to be a responsible backpacker

27 Mar

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Philippine Online Chronicles is a weekly online publication which features a new kind of news. POC presents a multiplicity of perspectives in a single article.

Angela Colmenares ‘s insight:

(Previous: Responsible tourism: The right way to travel)

Being a responsible traveller starts with planning ahead and having the right choices regarding where and how to go based on your objectives.

Here are some easy tips to for responsible travel:



G – Go to destinations that are not only spectacular, but also educational and promoting respect to nature and cultural heritage as well.


E – Educate yourself with basic information about the place. Try to look into the site’s history, culture, advisory notices and more information as much as you can. It’s also good to learn a few simple words in the local dialect like “hello,” and “thank you.” Local people could appreciate your efforts to integrate with them.


T – Travel Guides. Travel guides could save your life! It could come handy to avoid getting lost. It contains basic geographical knowledge such as maps, transportation means, popular destinations, etc. You don’t need to buy from a bookstore. You can just Google.


P – Pack Light. It is good to pack everything you think you might need, but please don’t burden yourself with a lot of stuff. Plan what you need to bring depending on your activities and how long you would stay there. Figure out what you are going to wear every day… and please, try to be simple to avoid heavy bag problems.


You may need a medical kit, toiletries, light towel, sun block, extra bag for dirty & wet clothes, drinking tumbler, etc. Don’t forget to bring your I.D., ATM or credit cards, and, of course, enough money! Have a checklist to avoid forgetting things.


If you’re a frequent traveler, there’s a thing called the “art of packing” that might be helpful. It saves bag spaces, avoids ugly bag bulges, and organizes your things so you could easily find them. An ideal bag should have compartments and several pockets. But in case you don’t have that kind of bag, you may use smaller bags or packing cubes bags that suck out the air to compress clothing. You may also improvise by using large Ziplocs or re-used plastic shopping bags to separate your clothes from your other stuffs. Toiletries should be in a separate pouch as well as your medical kit. Put containers with liquids inside a Ziploc plastic bag especially when travelling by plane.


Secure fragile and valuable items like camera, cellular phones and wallets in a pouch or hand-carry bag that you should always bring with you.  Mirrors, sunglasses, glass bottles, and other fragile items in the luggage should be protected in cloth wraps or cases. It’s also handy to bring a small padlock to secure your luggage.


A –Avoid bringing plastics and products with wasteful packaging. Prevent yourself from being a trash generator.Don’t bring contrabands to avoid getting into trouble. Also refrain from bringing a lot of gadgets. (Come on! You’re in a vacation to enjoy, in the first place, not play with digital games.)


C – Contact persons and communications. Ensure that there are ways that certain people can contact you in cases of emergencies.Have local contact persons in your destination, especially if you are a stranger in the place.Remember that communication is very important to avoid making your life miserable.


K – Know your itinerary to maximize your stay. It will not only help you plan what to wear or bring, but could also save you from trouble of being left behind the group for knowing what time to leave and where to go. Proper scheduling could also maximize your time in able for you to reach more destinations and meet more people within a limited period of time.

E – Economics. Check the balance of your bank account. Ensure that you have enough money and resources for the travel. Keep extra money in case of emergency.


D – Drive. If you’re driving to point of destination, check if the vehicle is properly conditioned. Ensure spare tires, tools, coolant, fuel, breaks, etc. and make sure that you can operate the vehicle proficiently.



S – SENSITIVITY TO PEOPLE & THEIR CULTURE. Tourists should always remember that they are in a place that is someone else’s home. Your destination may be a community of people and other species in the biodiversity. Try your best to make your trip be less invasive and be more favorable to the community. Listening to the locals is the best way to understand and respect their culture, environment and aspirations. Do not take, destroy or vandalize archaeological or biological treasures.


E – ECONOMICS & DIRECT CONTRIBUTION TO LOCAL ECONOMY. Try to spend less. Be also smart on what and whom to buy. Buy local products and services and choose to support locally-owned businesses, community tour operators, and artisans. Through this, you will not only get stuffs for a cheaper price, your money will also go directly to the local community. Try not to be so aggressive when bargaining. Keep in mind the hard labor the producers has put on the product and that the purchases that you make could help them feed their families.


N – NATURE FRIENDLINESS. Do your part to conserve the natural beauty of the place by following designated trails, avoiding impacts on critically sensitive biodiversities, and respecting the natural environment. Remember the saying, “Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, and leave nothing but footprints.”


Also avoid buying products made from threatened natural resources and report poaching and other illegal activities to the local authorities.


S – SAFETY. Always keep safety a priority. It is best to travel with a companion and with a clear sense of direction. Familiarize yourself with the place. Tourists could also be attractive targets for thieves. Do not go alone to lonely and dark places and don’t wear expensive jewelries and accessories. Beware of scams and know where to get help.


E – ENGAGE, EXPLORE AND ENJOY. Engage in people and local culture. Every trip gives unique opportunities to explore new sceneries and culture. Enjoy eating local delicacies, shopping in the local markets, attending to festivals, and trekking the terrain. Travelling is also being in solidarity with the local people.


S – SHARE YOUR RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL.  Share responsible travel tips and the awesome experience that you had to your family and friends. Sharing photos could also say more than a thousand words.

To be a responsible tourist, always remember to GET PACKED before travelling and travel with your SENSES!


Angela Colmenares-Sabino is an environmental activist and backpacker.


Photo: Boracay Sunset. By Angela Colmenares

See on www.thepoc.net

Responsible tourism: The right way to travel

27 Mar

See on Scoop.itMakamundo (Earthly)

Philippine Online Chronicles is a weekly online publication which features a new kind of news. POC presents a multiplicity of perspectives in a single article.

See on www.thepoc.net

Green Groups Pursue Contempt Charges vs RWS & Government for Re-Export of Dolphins; Resorts World Sentosa Counters With SLAPP Suit | Earth Island Institute – Philippines

22 Mar

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Angela Colmenares ‘s insight:

In a hearing last 8 March 2013, environmental groups and animal welfare organizations pursued contempt charges against Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) as well as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for allowing the re-export of 25 dolphins last year. One dolphin died enroute to Singapore.


According to the Urgent Manifestation and Motion filed by Earth Island Institute (EII), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS),CARA Welfare Philippines and concerned individuals last 20 November 2012, “..even before and while the Honorable Court was conducting a hearing on the Motion for Reconsideration on the Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO), the respondents had already flown out 11 dolphins from the country in full defiance of the administration of justice in the Philippines.  To make matters worse, we stress again that the Respondents (RWS, DA & BFAR) did not even have the decency to inform the Honorable Court that they had already taken out the eleven dolphins before the Honorable Court last November 19, 2012.”


The motion further reads: “This makes a mockery of the proceedings in this case and is in brazen and utter contempt of this Honorable Court and the entire administration of justice in the country.”


Indirect contempt falls under Section 4 Rule 71 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure for “any improper conduct, tending directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or to degrade the administration of justice” under Section 3 of the same rule. Penalties for indirect contempt carries a fine and/or imprisonment.


Meanwhile, in a motion dated 20 November 2012, RWS filed a compulsory counterclaim against the green groups amounting to 4 Million Pesos for moral, exemplary damages and legal fees.

RWS claims that the activists put the company “in a very bad light, portraying it as a violator of environmental laws and oppressive to its animals” and that the law suit filed was “wrongful, baseless and malicious.”  For that reason, RWS requested the court to dismiss the petition filed by the activists and to burden the latter to pay for the damages and litigation costs.


EII, PAWS and CARA however, believe that it is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) case that is meant to harass and silence environmental advocates seeking the implementation of environmental laws. SLAPPs is defined by the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, promulgated by the Supreme Court in 2010 as “A legal action filed to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.”


The green groups assert that their case against RWS, DA and BFAR seek the implementation of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines or RA 9147 and international conservation laws.  Furthermore, the group believes that RWS, DA & BFAR should be held accountable for hastily transporting 25 dolphins to Singapore despite ongoing hearings in court resulting to the death of a dolphin named Wen-Wen last November 2012.


Asked about the effect of the SLAPPs case against them Earth Island Institute Philippines Regional Director Trixie Concepcion says that the best way RWS can tarnish its reputation is to file a case against the country’s leading animal welfare groups, environmental organizations and multi-awarded environmental heroes. According to Concepcion, “SLAPPs cannot deter good people with a rightful cause, rather, it will even give us the venue to clearly present the arguments for our case. Upholding RWS’ counterclaim is a true ‘SLAPP’ in the face of justice.” ####

See on www.earthislandph.org

Vote for Ric O’Barry to save more dolphins! | Earth Island Institute – Philippines

22 Mar

See on Scoop.itMakamundo (Earthly)

See on www.earthislandph.org

Party-list solon seeks probe of Tubbataha reef mishap

18 Jan

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A partylist lawmaker wants a congressional inquiry into the US Navy ship which has been stuck on a coral reef in the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu.

See on globalnation.inquirer.net

US Navy ship stuck in Tubbataha Reef

18 Jan

See on Scoop.itMakamundo (Earthly)

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – A US Navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, ran aground in the Sulu Sea off the Philippines on Thursday, and was stuck on a reef, the Navy said.

See on www.abs-cbnnews.com