Loren and Brillante again
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2017 - 4:00pm

I don’t know when Sen. Loren Legarda will ever stop thinking, and putting in motion ideas on climate change, sharks, barracuda, cultural stuff, things indigenous, preserving corals and forests and episodes on tribal people weaving and carving and building infinitely wondrous structures. She will never stop, for sure. And we are all the better for it.

The senator has now launched a new project with the internationally acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza. Together they  put up the successful film Taklub, and now, they are producing the first ever Protected Areas documentary series to air on Philippine television.

The documentary series titledOur Fragile Earth: Protected Areas of the Philippines, according to Loren, aims “to educate citizens on our protected areas, which are critical in conserving our biodiversity that is essential to our existence and survival. Through this documentary series, Filipinos will learn more about our protected areas – the richness of these areas and the challenges in conservation. We want Filipinos to appreciate the unique natural heritage that we have and enjoin everyone to protect them.” 

The series, conceptualized by Loren and produced  by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), consists of 12 short documentaries that were shot by Mendoza on location and took two years to finish.

Loren and Mendoza have produced  several documentaries (Buhos, Ligtas, Philippine Marine Biodiversity, and Antique: Coral Restoration Program) and a full-length filmTaklub (which was part of the 68th Cannes International Film Festival and earned a special commendation from the Festival’s Ecumenical Jury). 

Protected areas are identified portions of land and water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploitation, says Loren. There are 240 identified protected areas in the country.

The first episode of the documentary series will be about the Apo Reef Natural Park in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. 

“Beneath the waters of Apo Reef Natural Park is a world that many of us have not seen. A wide array of marine species – from moray eels and turtles, to sharks, jacks, tuna, barracudas and dolphins – live there. To protect the biodiversity of the world’s second largest connecting coral reef, a no take zone policy, which is considered as one of the best practices in the country, is being strictly implemented,” says Loren.

Other protected areas that will be featured in the series are: Camotes Island Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve, El Nido Managed Resource Protected Area, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Sagay Marine Reserve, Mt. Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape, Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Coron Island, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Lake Sebu, which is part of the Allah Valley Protected Landscape.

The series will also feature the Ifugao Rice Terraces, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Verde Island, which is considered the center of the center of the world’s marine biodiversity.

The Protected Areas documentary series will air every Saturday starting Dec. 9, at 7:45 a.m., on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), with replays every Sunday, 1:45 p.m.

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Only the other night, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines presented at center stage 15 personalities – whom IABC called the “Champions of Disruptive Innovation.” The Philippine chapter of this global organization does this every year.

One of the awardees is a friend of mine, Creative Point International chairman Dr. Dante M. Velasco, who was cited by the CEO Excel jurors as one who “has led a highly respected career in various fields and positions where he consistently promoted communication excellence.”

Dante is also chair of the Foundation of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he also serves as professorial lecturer for masteral and doctoral classes. 

The CEO Excel jurors cited him for his role in government when he served as head of Road Transport and official spokesman of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to iconic Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus. 

“In government,” the citation reads, “his ability and the importance of communication was recognized when he was appointed undersecretary – handling various tasks as official spokesman, top public information official, leader in public hearings engaging DOTC’s stakeholders in road transport, rail transit and aviation concerns.”

The jurors cited Dante’s role as “an articulate and resolute advocate for communication as a management and leadership function, bringing the communication element to the policy-making moves of corporate boards and strategy formulation of top decision-making management.”

This is the third award in a row received by Dante, and he thankfully said: “My cup runneth over.” In 2016, the UP Alumni Association named him Distinguished Alumnus in Communication, the first official recognition of the media-related field. Last month, the UP College of Mass Communication gave him the “Glory Medal Distinction” for his exemplar role in the field of mass communication.

Finally, IABC pointed out Dante’s commitment to his profession: “His pursuit of his PhD (which he earned in 2011), the highest academic level for a communication professional, proves his lifelong advocacy to explore the highest limits of communication.”

Dante and I became friends in Cairo, Egypt, as early as 1994, at the United Nations International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) as early as 1994. He had the dual role of being representative of the Press Secretary Jesus C. Sison in Malacanang and of being consultant of the Commission on Population, led then by Popcom executive director Cecile Joaquin Yasay.

CEO Excel stands for “Communication Excellence in Organizations” – and this year, aside from Dante, IABC also recognized such notable public figures as Public Works Secretary Mark Villar,  and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Danny Lim. 

*          *          *

December 3 came and went but not too many realized it was  International Day of Disabled Persons. 

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.  It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The theme for this year’s International Day is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies for all”, with a focus on enabling conditions for the transformative changes envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Cecilia Guidote-Alvarez, UNESCO Artist for Peace,  president of the Philippine Center of the International Theater Institute, and lead person of Earth Savers Philippines, says in  2002 Earth Savers was honored as Unesco  Artist for Peace for its socially integrated performing group of  persons with disabilities  or handicapables.  “It was a great honor bestowed on our country given in Paris and witnessed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and several other officials.”

In 2013, disabled artists performed in Paris to great acclaim after Unesco selected Earthsavers’ training program as a Unesco Dream Center of Excellence.

This December, handicapped artists hope to present to President Duterte a braille Pilipino version of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and  serenade him with a brief repertoire that promotes a culture of peace, social justice and sustainable development. They also are to thank  him for allowing paintings by handicapable artists to be exhibited at the Malacanang museum last July.

Email:  dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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