Environmental Coalition Green Convergence held the 369th session of the monthly Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan Forum entitled “Entrepreneurs for the Environment” last March 19, 2021 through Zoom.
“We have entrepreneurs who are either into business reviving nature, regenerating nature, or curing nature,and those who are into businesses who make sure they are sustainable- meaning they are taking care of the environment, otherwise their business will be affected” shared Dr. Angelina Galang, President of Green Convergence.
Among these eco-conscious entrepreneurs is Erwin Po, President of ReconX- a company that converts plastic waste into fuel and other upcycled products.
Po shared that the company was born out of the need to address the issue of the overwhelming amount of plastics. “Our goal is to effectively minimize plastic waste, reprocess plastics, and offer a less environmentally damaging product,” he explained.
The ReconX President listed the products they are able to produce from plastics. “Aside from producing fuel, mostly diesel, kerosene, and low octane gasoline, we also upcycle products and convert them into pellets that can be molded into something else” he said.
“There are many good uses of plastics, it’s simply a matter of disposal and management, and this is where we come in as we constantly work on ways on how to renew them, thus completing the entire circular economy cycle.” he concluded.
Pie Cabigas, Manager of Better Than Ice Cream, shared how her family’s company adapted to using more natural substitutes for their products.
“When we started in 1990, our products were all sugar-based,” said Cabigas.
“In 1995, we came out with our first no-sugar added product, not knowing there is a big market for this in the Philippines that is clamoring for this type of product” said Cabigas.
The manager shared the difficulties they faced in switching to natural sweeteners. “In 2010, stevia was introduced to the market, but not in the Philippines.” she said.
“Since we couldn’t get the imported products here, we just decided to work with a local supplier,” she explained.
“It took a while before we were able to switch from sugar to artificial, then from artificial, to the natural-sweetener, stevia” she added.
When asked regarding further developments on their products, Cabigas replied, “We plan to expand this more, not just with using stevia. People have also told us to explore an alternative plant-based frozen dessert.”
The final speaker, Angelo Tan, Green Building Country Lead of the International Finance Corporation, shared his insights on the importance of including infrastructures and buildings in the climate change narrative.
“In the Philippines, the level of urbanization surpassed the 50% mark in 2015” he said.
“What’s very worrying is that with climate change and this rapid urbanization, there is this phenomenon called double exposure where we become more vulnerable to the effects of climate change” he added.
“We believe that climate change is also climate business, and we recognize the critical role of the private sector in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Entrepreneurs and businessmen and women have a critical role to play” said Tan.
Tan shared that even in the Philippines, green building can be a viable option for climate change mitigation. “Many Filipinos think green buildings are very expensive, but they are not especially when green measures are incorporated in the design of the house”, he explained.
“The first EDGE or Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies certified Zero Carbon building in the world is actually in the Philippines, which is the Arthaland Century pacific tower in BGC”, he proudly shared.
“It just shows that developments in the Philippines can be a pioneer in the world in terms of Zero Carbon developments”, he concluded.
The 369th session also marked the 31st Anniversary of Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan. A commemoration was held for its founders- journalists Vic Milan and Ed Aurelio “Ding” Reyes, and restaurateur Vic Vic Villavicencio.
Longtime participant of the Kamayan forum Roy Cabonegro shared about the impact of the forum and its founders. “We started to form a political green party (MAKAKALIKASAN) from the Kamayan Forum. In my experience, [the forum] is really a story of the three founders,” he shared.
“I thank the three of them and the forum. To me, I see no difference between the 3 founders and this forum” he said after lauding the founders.
Esther Pacheco, President of Concerned Citizens Against Pollution also gave testimony of the influence of the Kamayan forum. “[It] is a landmark in Philippine communication to last so many decades and pioneering ahead of its time an advocacy for nature.”
Poet, publicist, and activist Greg Bituin Jr. also paid homage to the longevity of the forum in his poem as he read, “dahil sa nangasiwa’t bagong pamunuan, tatlong dekada’y nagdaan, forum pa ri’y nariyan”.
Since March 1990, Kamayan Para Sa Kalikasan Forum has become an institutionalized platform that enables NGO and government representatives, the media, students, teachers, church groups, and concerned citizens to discuss pressing environmental issues in the country. This month’s forum is organized by Green Convergence and is supported by Kamayan Restaurant EDSA.
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