It was a night of celebration as WWF-Philippines celebrated 20 years of environmental solutions in the Philippines with its Partners’ Night. I am a supporter of environment care, ecotourism, renewable energy and the like. My good friend from decades back, Vince Perez, was WWF-Philippines’ Chairman for several years and is currently Chair of the WWF-Philippines National Advisory Council.
This extra special Partners’ Night, being WWF-Philippines’ 20th year, was hosted by WWF national ambassadors Marc Nelson and Iza Calzado. It was a time of thanksgiving for all the WWF partners, from the public and private sectors, who had supported and sustained its projects involving the conservation of the country’s natural resources, protecting endangered species, and alleviating poverty.
Some of these WWF projects include partnership efforts to conserve the Philippines’ most significant coral reefs and forests, such as the Tubbataha Reefs of Palawan and the Sierra Madre mountain range covering 10 provinces in Luzon. Also, every last Saturday of March, WWF sponsors the nationwide observance of Earth Hour, the world’s largest mass-action to fight climate change.
A photo exhibit, calendar, newspaper supplement and video series showcasing people whose lives were touched by conservation were unveiled.
One touching highlight for me was the recognition by WWF-Philippines of the heroes of the environment, such as WWF-Philippines founder Dr. Celso Roque, Tubbataha Reefs guardian Angelique Songco, plus slain whale shark guide Joel Briones.
Whale shark guide Joel Briones from Sorsogon was able to send two of his children to college because of the influx of tourists who want to swim with the world’s biggest fish. He passed away in October 2016 and was recognized by WWF as a Hero of the Environment.\
Boat-builder Benjamin Pedrero from Leyte lost 30 members of his family to super-typhoon Haiyan in 2013. “I lost everything. My house. My wife and two children. Even my banca.” Through WWF’s Bancas for the Philippines program, Benjamin and hundreds of fishermen in Palawan and the Visayas were able to build their own fiberglass boats and start anew. Benjamin is among the people featured in a new Primex and WWF 2017 calendar launched this November.
Upland farmer Arsenio Cacliong from Isabela now has 180 mango and 200 citrus trees, which augments his income. He and many farmers have benefited from WWF’s agroforestry program to reforest the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Videos featuring beneficiaries whose lives have been transformed were unveiled at the event.
WWF seeks new partners to help it realize its vision for the Philippines. For those interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations, WWF-Philippines! May your tribe increase and your endeavors always be blessed.