MANILA, PHILIPPINES — To welcome the new year, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation held its flagship event, Explorer Encounters, on January 14. First held in 2018, this second run is supported by the Government of Canada through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. It gathers explorers and conservationists to share transformational ideas with each other and to connect with inspiring people.
SHE’S ON FIRE: A CONVERSATION ON WOMEN AND THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY
This year, Explorer Encounters held a side event called “She’s On Fire: A Conversation on Women and the Climate Emergency” early in the afternoon. The event raised awareness on the impacts of the climate crisis on women and the critical role of women environment defenders in shepherding a brighter future for all. An intimate gathering of 50 women environment defenders and high-powered women leaders from various sectors, the activity began with a keynote message from Senator Loren Legarda.
“Nothing of great value has ever come easily. We can be ‘on fire,’ without emissions, that is, for the strategic interventions necessary to survive and thrive in a climate emergency. Women will do it with passion and compassion,” said Senator Legarda.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte gave a presentation on Quezon City’s gender-responsive climate initiatives, which included an Urban Agriculture program that generated green livelihoods for more than 13,000 women and the Cycle against VAW (Violence Against Women) program that trained female bike patrollers and provided 600 bicycles to women workers.
Atty. Alaya De Leon of Parabukas gave an international and national situationer on women and the climate crisis, which was followed by a panel discussion with women environment defenders from the grassroots, Dumagat Chieftain Ka Ningning Astoveza, Masungi Forest Ranger Jolina Dela Cruz, and Project Officer for LILAK Cheryl Polutan.
“Para sa akin, hindi talaga hadlang ang pagiging babae kung talaga ikaw ay may malasakit sa kalikasan at sa kung ano mang bagay nakapaloob sa ating kabundukan. Ang katwiran ko pa ay kung kaya ng lalaki, kaya din ng babae. (For me, being a woman is not really an obstacle if you really have compassion for nature and every living being that dwells in our mountains. My reasoning is that if a man can do it, so can a woman,)” said Chieftain Astoveza.
For the closing message, Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay gave words of encouragement to women environment defenders. The programming was in partnership with SPARK! Philippines.
MOVEMENTS CREATING TOMORROW
The main activity, called “Explorer Encounters: Movements Creating Tomorrow,” gathered 150 guests from the conservation, media, governance, and travel sectors. Five presenters shared updates on their inspiring campaigns in each of their communities. They were Josefa Tauli of the Global Youth for Biodiversity Network, Joshua Villalobos of the Youth for Climate Hope, Ann Dumaliang of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, Frances Yap of Oceans 6, and Camille Rivera of Oceanus Conservation.
“Our call to action is simple. We ask you to stay vigilant and stand by us. Big challenges like this give us the opportunity to make monumental changes for our country. So for this, we must be grateful and not bitter. We have to be more determined than ever and not hopeless,” said Ann.
”From a bunch of 14-18-year-olds protesting outside the capitol, we are now here working with adults and experts to stir the energy scenario of an island with five million residents in the right direction,” said Joshua.
In Josefa’s presentation, she emphasized, “In all our actions, we must welcome diverse voices and diverse visions because only then can we stop business as usual and learn from the voices of youth, from indigenous peoples, local communities, of women, of PWDs, to enrich the actions that we do on the ground no matter what field we are in.”
Atty. Garreth Tungol delivered the keynote address on behalf of Senator Raffy Tulfo, who is an ally of environmental movements in the Senate and Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy. The event ended with an inspirational closing message penned by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen and read by Masungi Trustee Billie Dumaliang.