In an effort to strengthen environmental awareness and collaboration among schools, the highly anticipated “(Re)Launch of the UPOU Earth Ambassador: Reimagining Earth Ambassador Through One Health Approach” organized by the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS)  in partnership with the UPOU Office of Gender Concerns (UPOU OGC), Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners – Laguna Chapter (PIEP), and the Worldwide Teach-in Philippines took place on 08 June 2023 at the Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL) Auditorium, UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna.

The event witnessed the participation of the three former partner schools, namely, Dayap Elementary School (DES) in Calauan, Laguna; Sto. Domingo Elementary School (SDES) in Bay, Laguna, and The Learning Place (TLP) International in Los Banos, Laguna along with one new partner school, Paciano Rizal Elementary School (PRES) also in Los Banos, Laguna.

The UPOU Earth Ambassadors (UPOU EA) are composed of youth who will help raise awareness and conduct activities in their local schools and communities in line with sustainable development, environmental and natural resource management. The UPOU EA aims to educate and empower young minds to become advocates for environmental preservation and sustainable practices and facilitate understanding among communities and K-12 students in Los Banos and nearby communities on how humans, animals, wildlife, and their shared environment affect one another in achieving holistic health. In addition, the Department of Education (DepEd) has established the Youth for Environment in Schools Organization (YES-O), which aims to promote environmental conservation for future generations among students and its communities. The UPOU EA can complement and support the vision of DepEd’s YES-O program. By engaging students in various activities, the event encourages them to develop a deep sense of responsibility towards the planet. 

The event was formally opened by Dr. Joane V. Serrano, Dean of the FMDS by welcoming the former school partners that are now composed of new faces, and the PRES as its new school partner. This was followed by the ceremonial (re)launching with two (2) representatives per school putting their handprints on the ceremonial wall to signify a commitment not only to reimagine but also to reach out and consistently act to achieve a more just and sustainable future. 

Throughout the morning, the participating schools actively engaged in a series of interactive sessions, workshops, and discussions. Experts and environmentalists were invited to deliver inspiring talks, shedding light on critical environmental topics such as climate change, interconnectedness of humans and animals and its connection to gender.

Asst. Prof. Villegas interacting with students during his talk on One Health approach

Asst. Prof. Karl Abelard L. Villegas discussed the One Health approach, which is a holistic framework that recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. It emphasizes collaboration and integration across disciplines to address health issues, considering the shared risks and solutions among these interconnected systems. Asst. Prof.Villegas reiterated that promoting interdisciplinary cooperation may improve health outcomes for both humans and animals while preserving the environment. On the other hand, Ms. Rasmiah M. Malixi discussed the solutions to plastic pollution and ended her presentation by challenging the students to not dispose of any wastes for the whole day. Dr. Maria Lourdes T. Jarabe integrated gender and One Health approach. Dr. Jarabe pointed out that gender roles and dynamics influence the ability of different genders to care for their health and the health of animals, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing gender in the context of One Health for equitable and healthy communities. Lastly, Mr. Alvern Tesorero tackled Climate Change and Plastics and explained that climate change is a long-term shift in global weather patterns from negative human activities like burning fossil fuels. It leads to rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and disruptions in ecosystems, impacting various aspects of life on Earth. Mr. Tesorero also explained plastics and their contribution to environmental pollution, including marine pollution, which can harm ecosystems, wildlife, and human health. He then encouraged and empowered the students that they can demand the leaders of the nation to implement the existing laws properly to reduce this.

One of the highlights of the event was the creative needs analysis (CNA) activity, specially designed to help analyze what activities the students want to do in the future UPOU EA events. The students were grouped into eight, composed of students from different schools for them to be able to collaborate and create new friends during the event. A walking focus group discussion (FGD) with the teachers from each school headed by Dean Serrano was conducted simultaneously with the CNA. 

The event was officially closed by Mr. Larry N. Cruz, a member of the FMDS Public Service Committee. The relaunch of the Earth Ambassador event signifies a renewed commitment towards raising environmental consciousness among the youth. By empowering the future leaders with knowledge and skills, the organizers hope to create a greener and more sustainable world.

As the day came close to an end, all the students were then invited to have their handprints on the ceremonial wall to lock in their commitment into being more responsible stewards of the earth. 

With the success of this year’s event, it is anticipated that the UPOU Earth Ambassador initiative will continue to grow in scope and impact, inspiring more schools and communities to actively participate in creating a sustainable future for generations to come.

Written by: Sydney Rovin Macahiya • Edited by: Larry N. Cruz

March 2024
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