Sillimanians joined the city of Dumaguete and the rest of the world in the People’s Climate March (PCM), a movement against climate change, last Sept. 22. People in other places around the globe conducted this march prior to Sept. 23, when Pres. Benigno Aquino III and other world leaders converged in New York City “to mobilize international, national, and local actions toward a new international climate agreement in 2015.”
Around 2,800 protests in 166 countries were held in an effort to put a stop to climate change, the term used to refer to global warming which is caused by human activities. PCM lived up to its billing as the “largest climate protest in global history.” In Dumaguete, one of the campaigns during the march was to save Mt. Talinis where one of the world’s vanishing old-growth forests is found. A couple of months ago, a private corporation building a geothermal plant in Mt. Talinis, cut down over 500 trees from one of the only few natural forests in Negros Oriental.
Sillimanians protested against the company just as they protested when the Philippine Ports Authority started a reclamation project at the Dumaguete port area back in 2007. The project was abandoned after protests from Silliman alumni who wanted to protect the façade of the university and as well as Rizal Boulevard, and from groups which complained about violations of environmental laws. The deforestation of Mt. Talinis will also affect the university in the long run since trees are needed to prevent floods.
For those who were unable to join the PCM, there are numerous simple ways of getting involved in the protection of the environment. One of these is using alternative transportation. In 2012, SU launched the tartanilla project with the aim of reviving eco-friendly transportation. A group of SU students this year are also taking the initiative to create an environmental campaign that encourages people to shift to non-fueled transportation such as bikes, long boards, skate boards, or just merely walking—if travelling just a short distance. This “What Moves You?” campaign of the students of Environmental Journalism 53 encourages clean, sustainable, and green transportation.
Another way for a student to help protect the environment is to use recyclable containers instead of plastic bags when buying groceries. The city ordinance banning the use of plastic has been implemented by the city government repeatedly, but unfortunately, its implementation has been short-lived. It would also be helpful if the university enforced a strict system for proper trash disposal that would be obeyed dutifully by the students.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Sillimanians are known to be active environment protectors. We can start protecting the environment first, within ourselves and in the university.