TOFARM Finalists Named for Farming Inspired Music and Film Creativity

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After Levi Celerio’s classic “Magtanim Ay Di Biro” (Planting is No Joke), the time has come to find a present-day take on uplifing music that celebrates the life of a farmer. Not just in music, but in film as well. The search for a moving story about the farm life has wrapped up as well for 2017 with six finalists selected in a variety of genres. This, together with the ten finalists for the TOFARM Songwriting Competition was presented last February 8 at Novotel Hotel in Cubao.
The event allowed media to interact with the finalists and ask more about how they came up with their works and what was their inspiration. Clearly the music presented by the 10 finalists were rich in melody and thought-provoking in lyrics, and at this point all of them were winners already. Whoever will be announced as the final winnner in April 9 will just be a formality. The same goes for the six finalists of the film category. They are already winners as they were selected from the numerous entries. The theme for 2017 centered on “Planting the seeds of Change”.

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Ipo Watershed Rangers Get Needed Support Against Illegal Loggers

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Ipo Watershed by Gregg Yan & WWF

They don’t pack high-tech gear nor high-caliber weapons, but the Dumagat rangers of Ipo Watershed patrol Bulacan’s forests like it were their home. Because it is.

“Sometimes we spend up to three days patrolling these mountains,” gestures veteran ranger Bayani Cruz to the distant mountains east of Ipo Dam, already scarred by kaingin or slash-and burn farmers. “Conditions are rough, especially during the monsoon season, when rivers swell and trails turn to streams – but we always do our duty. We earn only one hundred Pesos per day – but we don’t do this just for money. We are Dumagat. We were born in the forest and we are just protecting our homes.”

Sporting simple tools and gear donated by mountaineers, the rangers work day and night to protect the Sierra Madre mountain range against illegal loggers, slash-and-burn farmers and charcoal collectors. With little gear and basic pay, they’ve had a tough run, but they finally got help.

Last 10 January, the watershed’s rangers received solar lamps and mobile chargers from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) and AVolution, a digital signage solutions company whose core business is to supply and install LED screens across the Philippines. A total of 52 lamps were made available to the rangers to augment their capacity to patrol at night, while allowing them to charge their mobile phones and other communications gear, increasing the range of foot patrols.

“Our LED There be Light initiative illuminates distant communities and helps locals do their jobs without relying on dangerous, dirty and expensive kerosene or carbide lamps,” explains AVolution’s President and General Manager Lani Kimber Campos. AVolution also gave 200 solar lamps to farmers in Brgy. Tiniguiban, Gumaca, Quezon Province last year.

Ipo Watershed, together with the Angat and Umiray watersheds, supply 98% of the water consumed by Metro Manila. Situated northeast of the sprawling Metropolis, it covers 7161 hectares in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan, plus Rodriguez in Rizal.

Sadly, the watershed’s forests are in full retreat. Though protected by several proclamations including a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title for the Indigenous Dumagat tribes of the watershed, the area is pockmarked by patches of bare soil. From 85%, forest cover plummeted to 40% in recent years. The government and groups like the UP Mountaineers have been helping locals protect the watershed.

WWF and its allies, which include Banco de Oro, Samsung and the Sunlife Foundation, recently joined the fray. “The deployment of solar lamps is just part of a larger initiative to protect the entire watershed,” explains WWF-Philippines Project Manager Paolo Pagaduan, who formerly oversaw a watershed conservation project in Rizal.

“We’re now working to develop a sustainable watershed management plan, form an effective management body for all micro-watersheds, aid groundwater recharge, minimize erosion and siltation, mitigate pollution through waste management, conduct regular monitoring and the evaluation of interventions and replant denuded areas to provide livelihood opportunities and maximize forest recovery. Simply put, we’re going beyond tree-planting,” he explains.
Through the efforts of the aptly-named Bayani, plus the rest of the rangers protecting the Ipo Watershed, Metro Manila’s 12 million residents can rest easy, knowing there will always be water to drink.

Renewable Energy is key to Ph Development

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Clean and renewable energy sources like geothermal, hydro, wind, biomass and solar energy are among the country’s few competitive advantages – especially since it has no significant deposits of fossil-fuels. Its continued dependence on imported fuel has made Philippine electricity rates among the highest in Asia.

Relying more on RE has brought down the cost of electricity with fuel diversity, shielding Filipinos from price fluctuations as no fuel cost is incurred. This shows the care or Malasakit of the government, particularly coupled with increased energy access with distributed RE reaching off-grid communities.

“With the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017 until 2022 now being finalized, we challenge the government to increase the share of RE to 50% by 2030,” explains WWF-Philippines climate and energy programme head Atty. Gia Ibay. “Green and sustainable development fits perfectly with the administration’s mantra of Malasakit, Pagbabago at Kaunlaran because RE provides affordable, sustainable and accessible electricity – especially for remote communities.”   More