Youth urged to be proactive in protecting the environment

By Roi Lomotan



Environment advocates encourage Dumaguete youth to be proactive in protecting the environment during the Geoskwela event held on June 24, 2019 at Luce Auditorium, Silliman University (SU). Seated (l-r) are: SU Foreign Affairs Student and Project Balod Co-Founder Rhyn Esolana, SU Professor and DOST “Balik Scientist” Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, Energy Development Corporation SILRO Head Miguel Lorenzo De Vera, and Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell. (PIA7-NegOr)


“The lesser you use your trash whether it’s one plastic bag (or) one sachet, you lessen the 60 billion sachets. You lessen the 16 billion plastic bags and that makes a big impact.”

This how Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell encouraged young people in this city to protect the environment during her presentation at the recently held Geoskwela event at the Luce Auditorium, Silliman University (SU).

The Filipino-American beauty queen was referring to a report from environmental group GAIA which noted that there are 60 billion plastic sachets and 16.5 billion transparent plastic bags or commonly known as plastic labo used and disposed in the Philippines annually.

“You have to remember it’s a ripple effect. When you started everyone else will follow. Never think that you are student and you cannot be taken seriously – No! Because the children, the students are not only the people of tomorrow but they are also the people of today. Everything you do right now can make an impact to the world,” Herrell advised the Dumaguete youths.

Hundreds of students from Silliman University and other academic institutions attended the activity.

Joining Herrell in tackling the relevant issues concerning the environment during the Geoskwela are SU student and co-founder of student – lead Project Balod marine conservation workshop Rhyn Escolana, SU Professor and “Balik Scientist” of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, and Energy Development Corporation (EDC) Strategic Initiatives, Legal and Regulatory Office (SILRO) Head Miguel Lorenzo De Vera.

The Miss Earth title-holder also discussed her personal advocacy: “Think Twice” Campaign which teaches the public to think twice and find alternative ways of protecting the environment even through practical means of disposing of trash properly and in conserving energy and water resources.

She also urged the youth to be proactive and not reactive in terms of protecting the environment particularly in addressing the garbage and plastic problem of the country.

In a similar note, student leader Rhyn Esolana also encouraged young people to be re-thinkers in using plastics.

“I want you to be re-thinkers. Re-think if you want to use plastic. When you go to a store, do you really need to put that ballpen, put that notebook inside a plastic when you can put it in your back or you can just walk away with it?” Esolana said.

Esolana also gave a talk on his advocacy in protecting the seas noting his concern on the going trend of increased plastic production and decreased fish production in the country which could result to more plastics than fishes in the ocean in the year 2050.

The student leader emphasized that it is important to take care of the environment, especially the seas, to ensure food security, livelihood, and human health.

“We all have to think about the now. We have to take care of ourselves. Save ourselves. Love the environment. If we look after the sea, it will look back after us,” Esolana said.

Esolana also told his fellow youths to participate in local movements that advocate for environmental protection.

In relation also to the threats posed by plastic pollution in the marine life, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel shared that micro-plastics are now seen in seafood.

Dr. Emmanuel explained that micro-plastics come from the large pieces of plastics that people throw away in the ocean which eventually broke down to tiny pieces which can be consumed by marine animals unintentionally. These will remain plastics until 100 years.

Dr. Emmanuel disclosed Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) made a study on the seafood caught in southern Negros which showed that a large percentage of seafood have micro-plastics.

He also noted that micro-plastics have the capability to attract toxic chemicals.

“Just like the loss of biodiversity, the massive amount of plastic wastes, wastes in general, and the chemical contaminants also spread on our earth is also an existential threat to us,” Dr. Emmanuel told his audience.

Apart from discussing the potential threat of plastic wastes to humans, Dr. Emmanuel also talked about the existential threat of climate change.

Dr. Emmanuel also highlighted the need to go to renewable energy to bring down the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

EDC’s SILRO Head Miguel De Vera agreed to this saying “The best we can do now is to transition to renewable energy slowly and adopt low carbon technology practices as they become available.”

De Vera also imparted some information on the benefits of utilizing renewable energy resources like geothermal energy which he described as a clean and stable energy source.

Moreover, he also shared the company’s commitment to preserving the forest covers as part of its thrusts on environmental sustainability.

Geoskwela is an initiative of the renewable firm Energy Development Corporation (EDC) which aims to bring the young people closer to experts, academicians, and inspirational figures who share the advocacy of environmental sustainability and utilization of clean energy.

“With initiatives such as Geoskwela, sustainability and environmental advocacy are more effectively entrenched in the grassroots level of academic communities and student bodies – ensuring that a greener and more stable energy future is a brighter prospect today more than ever,” said Norreen Bautista, head of EDC’s Corporate Social Responsibility Group in Negros Island.


Free public wifi in off-grid NegOr barangay soon

By Jennifer C. Tilos

A mountainous barangay, Puhagan, Valencia will soon be the first village in Negros Island to have free wireless internet access in public areas through a public-private partnership led by geothermal leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

This privilege will be given to Puhagan residents once the facility is put up this May through the public-private partnership of EDC, the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and (NOCCI), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Municipality of Valencia, and Barangay Puhagan.

EDC donated materials and equipment necessary to construct the public wifi facility worth P735, 000 to the barangay, while DICT will provide for bandwidth, the local government of Valencia will allocate of 5mpbs of their 20mbps bandwidth which in turn, will provide the site of its operationability and the maintain of the facility.

NOCCI will provide technical support to barangay Puhagan.

In the recent signing of the Deed of Donation, Brgy Puhagan Chairman Leonarda Sarita expressed, “my gratitude cannot be measured as this will be a big help to the community, most especially to the students who don’t need to travel to Dumaguete City to do online research.”

DICT Provincial Director Engr. Aurelio Tinapay revealed that no telecommunications company was willing to provide this service because doing so in a mountainous area was expensive.

“Thankfully we have proactive partners like Valencia Mayor Edgar Teves who was willing to allocate 5mbps for Puhagan, NOCCI for their technical support and EDC for the infrastructure,” added Tinapay.

Norreen Bautista, head of EDC’s Corporate Social Responsibility team in Negros Island, emphasized the importance of this project because it is the company’s way of empowering its community by being globally connected through the internet.

As confirmed by DICT, EDC’s donation is historic because Brgy. Puhagan is the first “off-grid” disaster-prone Barangay in the country to be connected to the internet for free.

EDC is the country’s premier renewable energy company and one of the world’s largest geothermal producers.

Its geothermal facilities in Valencia, Negros Oriental has been providing clean, renewable, reliable power 24/7 to Negros Island and other parts of the Visayas region for over 36 years.

NegOr marks Renewable Energy Day

By Jennifer C. Tilos and France Ariola


Ms. Earth 2015 Angela Ong (in green) joins NegOr Gov. Roel Degamo and other guests in the celebration of Negros Oriental’s Renewable Energy Day at Lamberto Macias Sports Center in Dumaguete City. (NGB/PIA Negros Oriental)


Negros Oriental has marked its first Renewable Energy Day following Gov. Roel Degamo’s Executive Order No. 22-18 establishing the event every March 5 annually.

The declaration has made Negros Oriental the first province in the Philippines to legislate unequivocal support and commitment to renewable energy sources through an annual commemorative local government event.

On March 2018, Degamo also signed an executive order declaring the province as environment-friendly and clean energy province committed to utilizing only clean and renewable energy sources such as geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar, as well as shunning the use of fossil fuels and coal operations in power generation.

“Renewable Energy Day is an important occasion for the people of Negros Oriental to come together and celebrate our common interest and goal of caring for our rich natural resources,” said Degamo.

“We achieve this through daily activities as well as business practices that do not harm our environment, and this primarily includes going for renewable and sustainable sources of energy to power the progress of our communities,” he added.

The first Renewable Energy Day in Negros Oriental was held at the Lamberto Macias Sports and Cultural Complex in Dumaguete City.

A highlight of the event was an exhibit of renewable energy players, along with other organizations and proponents of green and sustainable business practices such as organic farming.

Guest speakers gave talks on renewable energy sources and inspirational stories on sustainable living.

Special guest Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong, a native of Lapuz, Iloilo City, shared her experiences as an advocate of environmental causes.

Other guests were representatives from the academe such as Silliman University and Foundation University and Engr. Edwin H. Alcober, Head of geothermal leader Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) Geothermal Resource, Sub-Surface Group who talked about energizing the future.

“We hope that with celebrations such as Renewable Energy Day, our humble province serves as a beacon of hope and a shining example to other communities as well as to the entire Philippines that a renewable energy future is possible and extremely beneficial not just for the environment but for us humans,” said Degamo.