Earth Day award for 'Ondoy' hero
- Michael Punongbayan () - April 22, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A construction worker who perished after saving 30 people from certain death during the onslaught of tropical storm “Ondoy” is among this year’s recipients of the Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism.

Muelmar Magallanes, who was also named one of TIME magazine’s Top 10 Heroes of 2009, was posthumously honored for his selflessness and bravery.

The award will be given to his family at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts today to be witnessed by President Arroyo.

Said to be a strong swimmer, Magallanes, after relocating his own family to higher ground, repeatedly returned to the flooded streets of his neighborhood in Quezon City to help his neighbors trapped by rising waters.

Among those Magallanes saved were a mother and her six-month-old baby who survived the tragedy because of the heroic efforts of the 18-year-old construction worker.

Award organizer Secretary Heherson Alvarez, vice chairman of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), said Magallanes is among the nine recipients of the Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism for 2010.

Also to receive the award is Architect Felino Palafox Jr. for Eco-Urban Planning; Lutgardo Labad and Illac Diaz for Eco-Cultural Communications through Art and Cultural Leadership; Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP) led by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma for Leadership in Climate Change Initiatives; and Silliman University (Dr. Ben S. Malayang III) for its Academic Center for Marine and Coastal Conservation.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer will likewise be cited for being an Eco-Friendly Business (Publcation); as well as the ‘Born to Be Wild’ program of GMA-7 and Miss Earth Philippines of Carousel Productions for ABS-CBN 2 under the category of Eco-Cultural Communications through Broadcast.

The Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism, a program of the CCC, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), UNESCO-ITI, and the EarthSavers Movement, is named in honor of the late priest-environmentalist and deputized forest ranger killed by suspected illegal loggers in the forests of Bukidnon in 1991.

In her Earth Day message, President Arroyo recognized the seriousness of the environmental problem that the world is facing today.

Mrs. Arroyo stressed the significance of Earth Day celebrations to inspire people’s awareness and appreciation for the environment.

She encouraged the people to change “harmful and wasteful ways” to help save the environment by practicing proper solid waste management and recycling.

“After 40 years of celebrating Earth Day, industrial and human activities continue to pollute the air we breathe causing global warming, contaminate the water we drink, and reduce the fertility of our soil and the diversity and richness of our marine life,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will lead this year’s Earth Day activities at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) today.

A caravan of Miss Earth beauties on board clean air vehicles will start at Visayas Avenue in Quezon City all the way to MOA in Pasay City.

The celebration will start at 9 a.m. and will be held at the Music Hall of the MOA where DENR Secretary Horacio Ramos will present a report on the Green Philippines Agenda.

This will be followed by the presentation of the ‘10 Million Movement Commitments’ by former DENR secretary and EDNP executive director Elisea Gozun and the launching of the recognition award for eco-friendly government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations. 

Recognition awards will be given to private companies for their exemplary practices on solid waste management.

The celebration would be highlighted by an arts contest for children to enhance their creativity and skills while making them aware of the different environmental issues facing the country and the world.

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