“IF YOU DON’T care about the environment, it’s as good as you don’t care about yourself,” Silliman University (SU) president Ben S. Malayang III said in his opening speech at the Youth Environmental Fair and Congress last Aug. 6 at the SU Gymnasium.
More than 800 students from different high schools from Amlan to Zamboanguita attended the lecture and workshop that was sponsored by the Silliman University High School (SUHS) batch of 1976 in cooperation with the HS-Centennial Committee and SUHS.
The Youth Environmental Fair and Congress was the first event of “An August Rush,” a series of events geared to commemorate the SUHS centennial that will be celebrated this month. The main theme of “An August Rush” is the environmental advocacy which features running and tree planting activities.
The speakers of the event were selected SU faculties: Dr. Enrique G. Oracion, dean of Graduate School, on Climate Change and Human Impact; Dr. Robert S. Guinoo, chairman of SU Biology Department, on the State of Environment: Global and Regional Perspective; Dr. Theresa A. Guinoo, faculty of SU Nursing, on Climate Change and Health; and Prof. Michael Lawton R. Alcala, coordinator/chairman of the Center for Tropical Studies (CENTROP), on SU CENTROP Initiatives.
For the workshop proper of the event, students (divided into six groups), created their own environmental advocacies based on the topics given to them: environmental policies, biodiversity, aquatic, terrestrial, culture and health, and pollution.
According to Atty. Jose Riodill D. Montebon, the event manager of “An August Rush,” the purpose of the event was to reach the generation of tomorrow and the future addressing that we are now in a time of urgency. “We live in the age of an August rush. There is no time to lose. We must pause, we must consider and we must act,” he added.
Montebon urged the youth to consider the important things, accept responsibilities, and look at challenges and opportunities to ensure “a collective future that is enjoyable and sustainable for all of us” and to be able “not just to change the world but to ensure that we have a world that we can change into.”
“Hopefully, they will pass it on to their peers and it will become part of their own thinking and their lifestyle and maybe will have a better plan to look forward to,” Montebon said.
In lieu of celebrating their 40th reunion, Marietta U. Montebon, class SUHS Ruby ’76 Convenor, said that their batch thought of celebrating their Ruby anniversary by doing something more meaningful than the previous reunions.
“It’s about time to look into an advocacy like the environment, which is one of the best advocacies of the university and to do something meaningful with our high school students,” she said.
At the end of the program, Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, vice president for Academic Affairs stated that the event was “a manifestation of team spirit.”
“We are here for a common purpose, it’s because we love to protect our environment,” Tan said. “I hope this activity will not only be a beginning, but there will be more activities like this to sustain what you [the youth] have started.”
“Ang among natun-an diri sa karon kay daghan sya kay it’s all about environment then about sa mga dapat himuon to preserve it,” Jenelyn Deguit from Boloc-Boloc High School, said. “We should plant more trees kay ngano, what if mawala ang atong mga trees, naa’y posibilidad nga ato nga palibot magka landslide [ug] flash flood.”
“Mas chada man siya nga activities karon kay ang mga student makabalo sila sa unsa ilang buhaton,” Deguit added.