Press Release
February 5, 2009

Search for best campus forest park launched

Senator Loren Legarda yesterday lauded the efforts of the Department of Education in creating awareness among youth the value of tree-planting with the launching of the Nationwide Search for Best School Forest Park yesterday at Rizal High School in Pasig City.

"I am truly grateful for the support that the Department has shown for the two advocacies that are closest to my heart - education and the environment," Loren said during the launching of the DepEd's project.

DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus and Sec. Lito Atienza of the DENR attended the project lauch for which Loren was keynote speaker. The project launch was also witnessed by RHS Principal Dr. Josephine M. Cruz and DepEd's assistant secretary Jonathan E. Malaya, who introduced Sen. Legarda .

"I cannot over-emphasize the urgent and compelling need to stress upon you the importance of educating our youth on environmental protection," she said as she thanked DepEd and DENR for the project competition for which hundreds of entries from interested schools have already signified their intentions to join.

"Hindi kaila sa ating lahat na ang mga problema at trahedya na dulot ng kalikasan ay naka-ugat sa ating kapabayaan, kawalang-bahala at walang pagmamalasakit sa ating kapaligiran," she said.

Loren cited the wanton destruction of forests, irresponsible mining, garbage and other forms of pollution are caused by the people's seeming lack of concern and which are now causing harm to the population.

"Noong mga nakaraang buwan, damang-dama na natin ang epekto ng climate change na dulot din ng global warming o ang mga pagbabago sa ating mga weather patterns. Ang ating klima noong Kapaskuhan ay dumanas tayo ng matinding lamig. Ngayon naman ay tag-init ang ating tatahakin," she said.

Loren founded the Luntiang Pilipinas ten years ago primarily for the purpose of exhorting people from all walks of life to plant trees, which she said is the first step toward addressing the problem that may arise each time calamity comes.

"Trees are essential and crucial to our survival, especially during these times when inundation, flood, and drought and pollution have alternately caused harm and danger to our communities," Loren explained.

"But with this competition, we hope to help our young people gain better appreciation of trees and the environment in general," she added.

"Layunin po n gating pagtutulungan, lalo't higit sa tulong n gating mga guro at n gating mga educators, ay mahubog at malinang ang kaisipan at kakayanan ng ating mga kabataan upang sila ay mahikayat na kumilos, tumulong at makiisa tungo sa pangangalaga ng ating kapaligiran, kalikasan at mga likas na yaman," she said.

The Nationwide Search for the Best School Forest Park is a competition among all public secondary high schools where students and teachers alike are enjoined to establish and maintain their own campus forest parks.

Loren noted that as early as 1977 there was already a law which requires that environmental education to be incorporated in all levels of the curriculum, but which the same has remained unimplemented.

"I am confident that, under the able leadership of Secretary Lapus, this vision will soon be realized," Loren said, referring to the bid to raise the level of environmental awareness of our people.

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