A Culture of Care for Nature: An Open Letter to Present and Future PH Leaders

300 scientists and conservationists urge leaders to make nature a priority following COVID crisis

April 21, 2020


We, the undersigned, call on the country’s present and future leaders to reflect on our responsibility to nature and humanity.

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversion of natural ecosystems such as forests, mangrove forests, wetlands, seagrass beds, and coral reefs have resulted in many calamities. These have heavily impacted the lives of Filipinos through widespread flooding, landslides, destruction of farmlands and fishing grounds, and loss of property and lives. We have experienced water shortages and droughts due to extreme weather events as a result of the changing climate. Destroying wild habitats and wildlife trade also increase “virus spillover risk” from wildlife to humans, giving rise to deadly diseases such as COVID-19 .

This COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to grinding halt. It knows no borders, economic status or political and religious beliefs, and has exacerbated the suffering of the most vulnerable members of our society. It has and will forever change the way we think, work, and live as a species.

The survival of humans depends on nature. When we create an imbalance in natural systems, the ability of nature to repair itself and take care of us is compromised.

To prevent future pandemics and other threats to our survival, we urge present and future leaders of Philippine society to join us in addressing three emergencies underpinning the current crisis: biodiversity loss, climate change and ecological amnesia.

We suggest the following:

1. LEADERSHIP THAT NURTURES NATURE – Present and future leaders of national and local governments must adopt a long-term and holistic perspective of progress: one that looks at a total quality of life through safeguarding the integrity of ecosystems while providing for the needs of the Filipino people. They must aggressively support the protection of remaining natural ecosystems and the restoration of destroyed ones, relentlessly enforce environmental laws and prosecute violators, empower and protect environmental defenders and frontliners, champion the effective management and sufficient funding of our protected, conserved and key biodiversity areas, and harmonize economic development with the sustainable management of our natural resources. In these efforts, leaders of key actors such as the DENR, CCC, and the Environment Committees of Congress must promote innovation and collaboration with different sectors of society to collectively address poverty, avert a water crisis, mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure food security for all.

2. BUSINESS FOR PEOPLE AND PLANET: Businesses big and small can no longer operate on a business-as-usual scenario. Business leaders must consistently endeavor to make their company’s operations and supply chains greener and more socially equitable, and genuinely embrace a circular economy. They must give special attention to and invest in the use of renewable energy, more efficient technologies, reusable packaging, responsible waste disposal, sustainable agriculture and ethical trade and integrate them in corporate and enterprise blueprints, not just in Corporate Social Responsibility projects. Businesses must develop a deep understanding of the spaces and communities they operate in, strictly comply with and go beyond the requirements of environmental laws, and enjoin the government in addressing climate change and biodiversity loss within their business operations and spheres of influence.

3. EDUCATION AND MEDIA TOWARDS A CULTURE OF CARE – In building a culture of care for nature, education leaders will need to create a radical new approach to produce a new generation of environmental stewards guided by science and conscience. Modern society and technology have made us detached from nature and led us to develop an “ecological amnesia.” It is time to put nature conservation education at the forefront of our education system. Media, journalists and storytellers of all kinds must also take a leading role in inspiring and educating Filipino society towards a culture of care for nature.

We, ordinary citizens, can also do our part by reflecting on our daily habits and consumption of food, water, energy and commodities, realizing that each individual choice can have compound effects on nature and our community. It is also our responsibility to choose our next set of leaders wisely based on the work they put into people and the planet, and not based on personality or popularity.

The current crisis has created a personal longing and a national imperative to repair our primal relationship with nature, while reminding us of the glaring gap between those who have more and less in life.

Our Earth is our collective home. She provides for our needs and keeps us safe and healthy. But for the Earth to continue taking care of us, we need to take care of her first.

Wishing you a happy and meaningful Earth Day!

*Reference: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-08/want-to-stop-the-next-pandemic-start-protecting-wildlife-habitats

THE UNDERSIGNED (330 Signatories)

Joseph Ascalon – Executive Director, SEA Institute – Verde Island Passage
Dave Albao – Executive Director, Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation (Convenor) Mark Amor – Founder, Amor LAW & Social Justice Advocate
Porfirio “Perry” Alino – Coordinator, Marine Protected Area [MPA] Support Network [MSN]
Anna Cabrera – Executive Director, The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
Sef Carandang – Trustee, Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation (Convenor)
Arnel Caranto – President, LIFE, Inc.
Roy Cabonegro – Chairperson and President, Aksyon Kalikasan (Eco Actions Ph), Inc.
Boboi Costas – Founder, Grassroots Travel
Vince Cinches – Co-Convenor, Save Sharks Network Philippines (Convenor)
Maria Luisa Daya-Garcia – Chairperson, Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines
Nielsen Donato – Wildlife Host of Born to Be Wild, Wildlife Veterinarian
Arvin Diesmos – President, HerpWatch Pilipinas Inc.
Grace Diamante – Executive Director, Mindoro Biodiversitty Conservation Foundation Inc. (MBCFI)
Ann Dumaliang – Trustee, Masungi Georeserve Foundation (Convenor)
Billie Dumaliang – Trustee, Masungi Georeserve Foundation (Convenor)
Celia Elumba – Director, Philippine Textile Research Institute
Jean Enriquez – Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Asia-Pacific
Manuela Angelika Esguerra – President, UST Biology Society
Roberta Feliciano – Chairperson, SEA Institute – Verde Island Passage
Ludwig Federigan – Executive Director, Young Environmental Forum
Jessa Belle Garibay-Yayen – Co-Executive Director/Co-Founder, Centre for Sustainability PH (Convenor)
Bebet Gozun – Co-chair of Earth Day Network Philippines, Former DENR Secretary
Venus Guadalope – President, Western Visayas Caving Association, Naturalist
Lea Guerrero – Country Director, Greenpeace Philippines
Antonio Gabriel La Viña – Environmental Law Professor, Ateneo Law School
Nella Lomotan – Founder, Eco Explorations and Trustee, Philippine Parks and Biodiversity (Convenor)
Micheal Lu – President, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
Neil Aldrin Mallari, Phd – President, Center for Conservation Innovations PH, Inc. (Convenor)
Jappy Lim – Zoologist and former Executive Director, Reef Check Philippines
Jean Lindo, MD – Co-Chair, PANALIPDAN! Mindanao
Gab Mejia – Conservation Photographer and Journalist
Gianna Montinola – Co-Founder, Hands on Manila Foundation, Inc.
Ricky Nuñez – Country Executive Director, Conservation International Philippines
Pia Ocampo – Founder & CEO, Pure Oceans
Anna Oposa – Executive Director, Save the Philippine Seas (Convenor)
Tony Oposa – Concerned Filipino
Rey Donne Papa – Dean and Professor, UST College of Science
Joel Palma – Executive Director, WWF-Philippines
Alessandro Ponzo – Director, Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines [LAMAVE]
Lilian Rodriguez – Assistant Professor, UP Diliman Institute of Biology and National Geographic Explorer Jen Santos – Program Director, Bantay Kalikasan AFI
Emerson Sy – Executive Director of Philippine Center for Terrestrial & Aquatic Research
Dennis Joseph Salvador – Executive Director, Philippine Eagle Foundation
Lylet Soliven – Creative Communicator (Convenor)
Cherry Sun – President, UP Mountaineers, Inc.
Josefa Isabel Tauli – Coordinator, Global Youth Biodiversity Network – Philippines Chapter
Arceli Tungol – Founder, Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts
Dinna Umengan – Executive Director, Tambuyog Development Center Inc and Coordinator for PaNagaT, Sustainable Fisheries Network
Carlyn Villanueva – President, UP Marine Biological Society
Val Amiel Vestil – Executive Director, Association of Young Environmental Journalists
Indira Widmann – COO, Katala Foundation Inc.
AA Yaptinchay – Executive Director, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines
Zak Yuson – Secretary General, COVID-19 Action Network Philippines
Cathrina Dumancas – Consultant and Advocate, Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc.
Kit Neil Alcantara – Graduate Student
Ellie de Castro – National Geographic Explorer/Archaeologist
Erina Pauline Molina – Environmental Scientist/National Geographic Explorer
Annalee Hadsall – Assistant Professor
Rica Dungog – Marine Science Researcher
Ted Villanueva – President, Youth Empowering Youth Initiative
Kevin Gaitan – Executive Director, Negrosanon Young Leaders
Coleen Awit – Chairperson, Youth Empowering Youth Initiative
Mark Cervantes – DRR and Humanitarian Professional
James Albert Mendoza – Leadership that Nurtures Nature
Tanya Conlu – Conservationist
Sarah Queblatin – Green Releaf Initiative
Asia Wy – Law Student
Andy Coscolluela – Strategic Projects Department, Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, Inc.
Karla Espinosa – Lawyer and sustainability advocate
Phillip Mallari – Associate Professor
Ramon Quebral – Geologist
Adrian Paul Lim – Climate Change and Sustainability Professional
Paulo Burro – Environmental Consultant
Alen Clyde Canlas – Geologist
Russel Corcino – Biologist
Edward Lorenzo – Environmental Lawyer
John Leo Algo – Program Manager, Climate Action for Sustainability Initiative
Michelle Maglasang – Strategic Fundraising Manager
Pol Carino – Biologist
Remil Diez – Environmental protection advocate
Leonila Bron – Hydrogeologist
Caela Tanjangco – Head of Entrepreneur Selection and Growth, Endeavor Philippines
Robert Suntay – Conservation Educator
Reynante Ramilo – National Geographic Explorer
Tom Graham – Cofounder, MAD Travel
Albert Balbutin – Graphic artist & illustrator
LenbI Laborte – OIC-Regional Coordinator, Cenvisnet
Shanna Alonzo – Chemist/ Environmental Science Student
Erin Larissa Canto – Timpuyog Innovation Lab, Cofounder
Carlo Delantar – Social Entrepreneur
AL P – Conscious Businessperson
Gela Petines – Conservationist
Jessa Marie Caabay – Faculty/Researcher , Palawan State University
Arman Pili – HerpWatch Pilipinas, Inc.
Robin Barlis – Engineer
Anthony Arbias – Native plants conservationist
Llana Domingo – NTFP-EP Asia
Gaby Alegre – Filipina
Leonard Matias – Student
Czarina Constantino – National Lead of World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines – No Plastics in Nature initiative
Jay Fidelino – Early-career Biodiversity Conservationist
Elaine Tacubanza – Procurement Officer
Andrea Singson – Volunteer
Angelie Gustilo – Naturalist
Kaila Trebol – Trustee of PRRCFI
Angelie Gustilo – Angelie Gustilo
Eileen Choy – Economist
Macy Anonuevo – Sustainability Consultant
Jamie Dichaves – Destination Sustainability Practitioner
Jea Louise Robelo – Environmental Scientist
Mary Jane Lamoste – Founder of Tagpi-Tagpi
Isabelle Marie Marzo – Advocacy Officer, ABConservation Palawan
Ronald Edilberto Ona – Environmental Scientist
Aubrey Jayne Padilla – Conservationist
Jamila Audrey Palomar – Forest Carbon Specialist
Ethel Wagas – Marine Scientist
Adryon Javier – Biologist
Edmund Leo Rico – Wildlife Conservationist
Pamela Bianca Luber – Integrated Communications Manager of WWF-Philippines Joshua Miguel Lopez – Program Lead, REBOOT Philippines
Mark Anthony Cantil – President Nature
John lester Bibar – Center for conservation innovations
Lawrence Empillo – Environmentalist
Jingky Dayaganon – Forester
Mark Anthony Cantil – Forester
Joan Mariel Catolico – Sales Manager
Mark Dayaganon – Forest Carbon Research Assistant
Mark Anthony Cantil – Forest Carbon Research Assistant
Minjel Mae Zaragosa – Forester
Maricar Delima – Forester
Vincent Monte – FORESTER
Julie Ann Gelbolingo – Forest Carbon Research Assistant
Ramil Incorporado – Forest Carbon Research Assistant
Rubelyn Batistin – Forester
Adelle Villena – Lawyer
Joni Miranda – Marine Biologist
Andresito Geasin Sr. – Agriculturist
Prince Jomarch Sandoval – Forester
Kakay Rico – Development Worker
Desirey Grace Olita – Biologist
Cynthia S. Del Rosario – Environmental Activist, Palawan
John Neil Catarman – Forest Carbon Research Assistant
Erika Pineda – Doctor
Wilfredo Licuanan – Marine biologist
Rubie Causaren – Biologist
Jelaine Gan – Biologist
Elizabeth Freeman Oropesa – Artist,Alternative Med Doctor, Nature Foundation
Chen Mencias – Tourism Planning Consultant
Rochelle May Tabi – Environmental Lawyer
Joni Acay – Conservation Biologist, Buhay-ilang Research, Education and Conservation Inc
Romar Lintag – Educator
Nikka Aligaen – Teacher
Othniel Cammagay – Biologist
Levy Necesito – Biologist
Abdel-aziz Ballon – Conservationist
Joseph Brown – Curator/Biologist, Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation
Cristina Cinco – nature advocate
Pauline de Guia – Wildlife Biologist
Jasmin Meren – Biologist
Mariah Jose Dichoso – Biology Undergraduate
Louise Abigail De Layola-Rizo – Field Biologist
Paul Cedric Bernardo – Biology Student
Maverick Asio – Independent Photographer / Biologist
Hilary Hao – Global Shaper Community, Manila Hub member
Genea Nichole Cortez – Biologist Sol Pedregosa – Biologist
Cristian Lucañas – Entomologist
Russel Atienza – Biologist
Krisza Mae Saccuan – B.S. Biology Undergraduate
Yñigo Luis del Prado – Biologist
Justine de Leon – MS Biology Student
Jessica Barbecho – Researcher
Marivic Quisti – Biologist
Jero Christ Manulat – Biologist
Krishna Ariola – Climate Activist
Pia Ronquillo – Environmental Scientist
Leonalyn Tumaliuan – Communicator
James Jimenez – Research Assistant, Biodiversity Conservation NGO
Renz Alfred Fernando – Biologist
Arvin Jet Marcaida – Biologist
Noville Jay Ebina – Biologist
Henry Calilung – Coordinator, Tungtong River Conservation Projectect
Kier Mitchel Pitogo – Wildlife Biologist
Jeffrey Mancera – Conservation Botanist
Maverick Tamayo – Biologist
Acielle Garcera – Eco Warrior
Mark Alcantara – PhD student / Ecologist
Mc Andrew Pranada – Botanist
Robby Cereno – Training Director
Tricia Mae Pasahol – Biologist
Aubrey Rosalin – Travel Experience Officer
Adriane Tobias – Forester
Arlene Talaña – Biologist
Michael Joshua Chua – Birdwatcher and Naturelover
Essex Vladimer Samaniego – Biologiat
Camille Chua – Biologist
Sweepea Veluz – Biologist
Angelo Joshua Luciano – Ecologist
Lystra Zyrill Dayapera – Research Associate, Biodiversity Research Laboratory Institute of Biology University of the Philippines Diliman
Erianne Macaraeg – Biology Student
Mads Bajarias – Author
Rejiel Gonzales – Founder/CEO,Bridge360
Allan Gil Fernando – Associate Professor, UP Diliman
Lorelie Tan – Former Vice President Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
Pamela Palma – Forester
Daniel Ocampo – Environmentalist
Ophelia Bello – Director, Academic Services
Kimberly Casipe – Biologist
Julie Barcelon – Botanist
Karen Judan – High School Math Teacher
Rufino Almodal II – Teacher/Football Coach
Anton Lapez – Environmentalist
Ester Batangan – Member, Rainforest Restoration Initiative
Carmelyn Jaime – Teacher
Chai Apale – Conservationist/Marine Biologist
Maria Belinda de la Paz – Conservationist
Mia Manosa – Naturalist
Anna Domingo – Artist
Neil Edsel Ramirez – Special Science Teacher, Philippine Science High School – Main Campus Miguel Terrado – Miguel Terrado, Student of HEDCen
Tarik Thami – Conservationist
Alexander Gequillana – Barangay Kagawad
Sweet Cerilles – Local Chief Executive
Maria Rowena Eguia – Scientist, SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department
Juan Paulo Salino – Environmental Specialist
DeAnne Rochelle Abdao – Biodiversity Research Assistant- Center for Conservation Innovations Ph; Environment Programs Officer -Project BiyaHero
Alieth Bontuyan – Co-owner Cebu Eco Fix
Stacie Evanne Cayanong – President, Carolinian Environmental Society Christine Jane Tabasa – Biology Student
Raf Dionisio – President, Make A Difference Travel – Environmentalist
Jonela Valencia – Educator
Isabella Tanjutco – Country Representative of Bye Bye Plastic Bags Philippines
Frances Mae Tenorio – Wildlife Biologist
Ken Abante – Research Faculty, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, School of Humanities, Ateneo de Manila University
Erickson Tabayag – Wildlife Specialist and Photographer
Marissa Cos Alcantara – Ph.D.
Natasha Tanjutco – Co-Founder of Kids for Kids, Country Representative of Bye Bye Plastic Bags Philippines
Zyrell Reyes – SK Official
Jesse Acebes – Environmentalist /Owner, Paseo Del Mar and Hacienda Gervasio Forest Park, Bohol
Devi Paez – Instructor, Ateneo de Manila University
Celina Rotea – ILOVE Project Lead, Bantay Kalikasan, ABS-CBN Foundation
Gerrard Paez – Founding Member, F4 (Fabulous Ferndale Friends Forever)
Mae Diesmos – Asst. Prof, Biology Dept, Univ. of Santo Tomas
Rainier Manalo – Program Director, Crocodylus Porosus Philippines, Inc.
Ryan Gersava – Founder and President, Virtualahan
Russell Evan Venturina – Biologist
Fructuoso Sabug – Professor
Elineth Elizabeth Suarez – Faculty, Ateneo De Manila University
Ma Christina Pabale – Environmentalist
Propa Joy Santor – Biologist
Michael Liberatore – Faculty, Ateneo de Manila University
Oda Beltran – Advisor, Bukidnon Resources Management Foundation, Inc.
Tatiana Cziomer – Vice-President, Head of Lazada Seller Tools and Services
Dennis Warguez – Biology Teacher
Evan Marie Palapar – Biologist and Academic Instructor
Bryan Benitez McClelland – Founder, Bambike
Hao Wei Hsu – Biology instructor
Hector Guballa – Asst Professor
Niña Kathryn Alfeche – Instructor, UST College of Science
Josalline Dominguez – Medical Doctor
Veniz Maja Guzman – Instructor, Ateneo de Manila University
Niño Andree Louis Caguimbal, MSc – Microbiologist
Perry Buenavente – Museum Researcher
Patrick Valentin – Instructor, John Gokongwei School of Management
Phillip Miguel Manzana – Lawyer
Christan Wilfred Ypil – Biologist
Federico Macaranas – Co-convenor, Earthday2019@AIM
Wynne Paolo Ugang – President, Cebu Association of Biology Students
Jomelle Wong – President (SY 17-18), Loyola Mountaineers
Ashley Marie Bautista – Vice President External, Biological Sciences Association; School Rep, Cebu Association of Biology Students
Kristel Tan – Managing Director, Tanlines Philippines
Kevin Henson – Former President of the Loyola Mountaineers
Paul Vincent Cabansag – Assistant PRO external, Carolinian Environmental Society
Jeshannah Trishah Rea Masincap – Member, STEP Philippines
Marlene De Leon – Associate Professor, Ateneo de Manila University
Trina Tolentino – Board Sec, Ateneo School of Govt. Alumni Ass.
Christian Supsup – Asst. Prof. Lec, Biology Dept., DLSU
Kisha Erah Muaña – Program Director, STEP Philippines
Samuel Wilson – Co-Founder, Bayatakan Farm Experience, Siargao
Dariel Renz Naguit – Research Associate
Ruth Martinez – Forester/Environmental Planner
Jaton Zulueta – Executive Director/Founder, AHA Learning Center
Carly Jean Salgado – Biologist
Ces Rondario – Entrepreneur
Chloe Alexie Mabasa – Overall Coordinator, Institute of Skin Divers of Ateneo
Lorraine Aplasca – Project Coordinator, Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE)
David D’Angelo – International Secretary General, Brotherhood of Destiny (BROOD) – http://www.brotherhoodofdestiny.com
Rachel Baldonado – Aksyon Kalikasan and Green Party of the Philippines
Carmela Española – Biologist, UP Diliman
Br. Ritche Salgado, O.Carm. – Order of Carmelites
Sally Snow – Executive Director, Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE)
Cookie Lugue – Housewife
Joana Cinco – Manager
Mr. Juan Paolo Angelo Loyola
Kathryn Olegario – Student
kenjhie sioto – Jeweler
Kelvin Ting – Businessman
Hazela Chua – Entrepreneur
Eia Cabase – Student
Ms. Trish Trienne
Mijon Tangye – Student
Mr. Vincent Soliven
Marie Joy Ann Chua – Sales and Marketing, CustomMade Crafts Center, Inc.
Jonas Francis Sabaybay – Student
Mrs. Katrina Abenojar
Rina Rosales – Citizen
Mario See – Software Engineer
Ms. Rochelle Romero
Narod Eco – Marine Science Institute, UP Diliman
Nimfa Pagsisihan – Homemaker
Mr. Gonzalo Jr. Servano
Ms. Sujata DeHart
Isabella Eslava – Production Manager, Design Pickle
Gia Isabelle De Vera – APM at Design Pickle
Susan Reyes – Diver and Ocean Advocate
Marietta Sorongon – Human Resources Professional
Isis Huang – Unit Manager, Philam Life
Medilen Singh – Managing Partner
kankan ramos – Managing Partner
Heide Banday – BPO Employee
Katrin Maria Escay – VP Creative Production – Ninjadog Studios Inc.
Mr. Earl Paulo Diaz
Mark Cruz – Human Being
Ms. Julie Ann Gelbolingo
David Choy – Cruise Organizer
Theresa Harris – Restauranteur
Reynier Tasico – Founder, CEO

Contact us at carefornatureph@gmail.com

When we create an imbalance in natural systems, the ability of nature to repair itself and take care of us is compromised.