FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2018 - 12:00am

As the days march on toward the end of the year, we are constantly reminded that we should be taking care of our bodies and environment, and preventing the total annihilation of our planet. A “guru” in environment preservation is Sen. Loren Legarda. In her speech at the Top Leaders Forum 2018, she spoke on the topic “Changing the Game: Building a Culture of Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships.”

I will quote parts of her message.

The senator said that according to the 2017 World Bank report, Philippines Urbanization Review: Fostering Competitive, Sustainable and Inclusive Cities, the country’s urban population will increase by approximately 20 million over the next 20 years. It estimates that 102 million Filipinos will be living in cities by the year 2050. This means, almost the whole Filipino population at present will be crowding our already congested cities a generation from now. This would certainly pose a great challenge to governance, especially in building healthy, liveable, resilient and sustainable communities.”

“We must take seriously our country’s climate leadership among the vulnerable nations, we must embrace innovation and new technology, and we must enable the policies in order to rapidly transform our societal systems and practices for a safer and more sustainable world. We can draw inspiration from India, which in 2017, generated 40 percent of all its new electricity capacity from solar; from Germany, with its grid running on renewable energy about 53 percent, and from the Marshall Islands, which recently released their national Tile Til  Eo Climate strategy, meaning “Lighting the Way” in Marshallese – to be carbon neutral by 2019.

Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Intel, are already at or close to 100 percent renewable energy, with Apple also promising to adopt a 100 percent circular business model. Google’s data center in Finland runs on 100 percent wind power, the senator said.

She asked, How can the Philippines innovate, how do we prepare for a scenario of a hundred million population? What would a green Philippine city look like? How can we reduce disaster risks and promote sustainability?

She posed this challenge: “We build a culture of resilience by making it a way of life. We do not only act when natural hazards are about to strike, but all our actions are already geared toward resilience. It means that we segregate our waste at source and reduce, reuse, recycle so that we minimize waste production. It means, growing more trees and mangroves because these are natural barriers to flooding and storm surge. It means constructing buildings and structures to be safe and habitable based on multihazard maps.”

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Another reminder is taking care of the health and wellness of our overseas Filipino workers. The  party-list group ACTS-OFW is calling for “’heightened vigilance’ against an  epidemic that has infected nearly 60,000 Filipinos and killed almost 3,000.”

ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III is quoted as saying that fighting AIDS through greater awareness and prevention “is a top priority for us because one in 10 Filipinos living with HIV is a migrant worker.”

Below are figures released by Representative Bertiz:

There are 6,135 OFWs found infected with HIV since the government began passive surveillance in 1984.

OFWs with HIV now account for 10 percent of the 59,135 confirmed cases in the National HIV/AIDS Registry as of September this year.

Of the 6,135 OFWS in the registry, 5,280 or 86 percent are male with the median age of 32 years.

Majority of the male cases, or 71 percent, were infected through sexual contact among MSM, or men who have sex with men (2,176 from male-to-male sex and 1,586 from sex with both males and females).

The median age of female OFWs in the registry is 34 years.

Bertiz urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration “to devote more resources to preventive education among OFWs and their families.”

Bertiz said HIV causes AIDs, or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which destroys the human body’s natural ability to fight off all kinds of infections. The condition still does not have any known cure.”

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Last Sunday, the first day of Advent,  Dr. Mariano Apilado’s homily at the Church of the Risen Lord in UP Diliman of which he is the resident pastor, related that the Prophet Jeremiah spoke of the restoration by the Lord, of Judah and Jerusalem that had been conquered by foreign rulers.

Jeremiah promised people that God “will do what is just and right – whatever the problems are. God will find a way and insure that what is just and right will prevail among the people of God.”

Dr. Apilado addressed the congregation composed of students, academicians and illustrious men and women: “What is the relevance today among the people of God of this promise of advent? The record today among God’s people in the Philippines is not very encouraging. There are reports that the drug problem is far from a solution. Sure, the police killers of helpless Kian have been sentenced to prison perpetua. But the drug problem is far from being under control. In fact, Presidential adviser Jess Dureza has resigned reportedly because he could not control the corruption in the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process). Basic honesty is lamentably absent from public offices and private business. And so, shall we raise our hands in surrender? Shall we jump ship and abandon our country? Or shall we seek other places to live and seek refuge in more safe and pleasant circumstances in other countries?

“From the scriptures, especially from the prophet Jeremiah, the advent message for 2018 is a resounding, No. No, let us not give up on our country. No, let us not give up because the problems are difficult. Instead, Yes, Yes, let us remember Jeremiah’s message. ‘The days are coming, declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfil the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.’ The Lord is faithful and just. The Lord, our God, is trustworthy. ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,’ says the Lord.”

And so, Dr. Apilado reminded the congregation,  “There are similarities between the Roman world when Jesus was born and contemporary Philippines. For one, while the Philippines today is not politically under the control of foreign powers, yet our internal politics is not entirely free from the influence of foreign powers, most notably the US of A and China. For another we are nationally struggling to stay above water economically. For still another, there are internal conflicts affecting good governance. Nevertheless, I repeat, nevertheless, the advent promise for 2018 is that God is with us. If God is for us, who can be against us? No one can stand against God! This is God’s promise for us today for Advent 2018.”


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