MPIC shores up PH marine ecosystem

THE Philippines is an idyllic archipelago with an extensive coastline of 36,289 kilometers spread over more than 7,100 islands, boasting some of the world’s richest and most diverse marine life.

So when Metro Pacific Investment Corp. cooked up its corporate social responsibility program, the preservation and protection of the underwater world is the logical choice

For six years now, its CSR arm, Metro Pacific Investment Foundation(MPIF), has been scouring the entire breadth of the archipelago to help rescue, restore and revive its coastaland marine ecosystems. Dubbed “Shore it Up” the program was first incepted in 2009 in the famed diving mecca of Anilao in Mabini, Batangas after typhoon Ondoy struck Luzon. Since then, MPIC has shored up the coastal areas of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro; Subic Bay Freeport Zone; Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan; and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte. The Manny V Pangilinan conglomerate has also touched base with communities and local authorities in the setting up of longterm livelihood activities, environmental protection endeavors and sustainable tourism. “Our continuous quest and common purpose to heighten awareness and promote stewardship of our ecosystem has brought us together. Much has yet to be done and issues such as marine debris, overfishing and alternative livelihood need to be resolved. We hope that our partnership, through Shore it Up, may continue to leave a meaningful imprint in our lives for the benefit of children,” said MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Padayon Bohol

Over the weekend, Shore It Up made its presence felt in the beguiling province of Bohol to mark the event’s sixth edition. Over a hundred volunteers from Smart Communications, PLDT, Philex, Maynilad, One Meralco, TV5 and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp trooped together with MPIC to carry out their environmental stewardship mission. MPIC vice president for communications Melody Del Rosario said it was chosen as venue of this year’s SIU to help it fully recover from the destructive earthquake which struck in October 2013. Christened “Padayon Bohol”, the two-day event hopes to boost the province in reclaiming its status as one of the country’s main tourist drawers. Del Rosario said, “This year’s event marks a new milestone as a nationwide undertaking having been held in Luzon, Mindanao and Visayas. Simultaneous Shore It Up activities were held last June 20 in Alaminos City, Pangasinan and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.” The charming island of Balicasag saw volunteer divers from MPIC firms do appreciation dives to admire a most sought-after international dive spot, which is teeming with lush marine life and almost unequalled in the Visayas region. After an exhilarating underwater interlude, the divers were serenaded by the angelic voices of the worldrenowned Loboc Children’s Choir directed by musical director Alma Taldo, whose home parish church, was almost in rubble after the tremblor. Charmed by its heavenly music, the choir was given a P 100,000.00 grant by the MPIC to help the group in its pursuit of artistic excellence both here and abroad.

Shared Livelihood Program On Day Two

On Day Two, the group shared the program’s blessings in Pamilacan by turning over livelihood programs to support the locals’ entrepreneurial skills so they can get their fair share of the island’s booming tourism industry

A total of 137 families received livestock and poultry livelihood showcase from MPIC, business MPIC Chairman Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan (third from left) and Governor Edgardo M. Chatto (second from left) seal the partnership for Shore It Up Padayon Bohol with a handshake. With them (from left) are Ms. Melody del Rosario, VP for PR and Corporate Communications, MPIC, Mr. Ramon R. Isberto, Head, Public Affairs, PLDT-SMART and Ms. Evelyn del Rosario, Head, Community Relations, Public Affairs, PLDT. Maynilad donated three micro-filtration units to Pamilacan Island. Each microfiltration unit can service 20 families to produce potable water and to prevent water-borne diseases. MPIC Foundation’s initiative to provide livelihood opportunities entailed the donation of farm animals. During MPI Foundation’s visit to Pamilacan Island, Bohol, 7 goats, 7 pigs and 42 chickens were turned over as alternative livelihood for former fisher folk. The peaceful island of Pamilacan is yet to be fully-electrified but to ensure that they will never be in the dark, One Meralco Foundation donated solar lamps to a number of families in the island. Simultaneous clean ups and learning sessions aligned with the MPIF and MVP Group’s Shore It Up program were held in Alaminos City, Pangasinan and Del Carmen, Siargao Island. starter kits from Smart, solar lamps from One Meralco Foundation and water micro-filters from Maynilad. Volunteers also conducted the Junior Environmental Scouts (JES) seminar to inculcate concern for Mother Earth among school children through creative art. MPIC also donated school bags and school supplies to 160 school children. For the past six years, JES have sowed the seeds of environmental awareness and have enlisted more than 1,000 elementary schoolers across the country.

Bohol governor Edgardo Chatto expressed his appreciation to MPIC’s initiatives and pledged support to collaborative efforts to protect and preserve the province’s natural allure. “As the father of the province known for her rich history, culture and nature’s beauty, I would like to express my genuine elation and sincere gratitude for choosing our beautiful island-province particularly Pamilacan Island, Baclayon as one of the project sites of Shore It Up in the Visayas Region this year,” he said.

“As a province greatly devastated by the great earthquake, we are earnestly hoping for the complete restoration and rebuilding of our beloved province with the support and assistance of MPIC thru the SIU, in line with its commitment to Rescue, Restore and Revive,” The the governor added. A key program instituted under the SIU is the Mangrove Propagation and Information Center (MPIC), which seeks to enrich existing mangrove forests and the coastal ecosystem.

Growth in Partnerships

This year’s Shore It Up also saw government agency partnerships through Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with its Sustainable Coral Reef Environment Management Program (SCREMP).

The tie-up shall help 34 marine protected areas nationwide and assist SCREMP projects, namely habitat and vulnerability assessment, coral reef rehabilitation and protection, and social mobilization and development. Other cooperating agencies are the Provincial Government of Bohol and the Department of Tourism-Central Visayas Region, which underscore the vital eco-tourism component of SIU.

For a deeper appreciation of the marine ecosystems, a learning session on the “Impact of Shore It Up to coastal communities as its environmental stewards for sustainability” was led by Commodore Geronimo Reyes of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Marine Environmental Protection support group and a pioneer diver in Balicasag.

The Bellevue Resort Bohol in Panglao became home to the volunteer divers in the two-day activity-packed event, and a partner establishment for this year’s SIU. The posh resort hotel was chosen partner by Metro Pacific because of its green technologies and environmental programs for a sustainable tourism industry in the province.

Six-Year Achievement

Since its inception, SIU has tapped 70,000 volunteers, and has partnered with 292 local and national government agencies, community organizations, companies, and private entities who share the same passion for Mother Nature

In 2013 alone, it was able to clean a coastline totaling to 328 kilometers and was able to protect some 5,000 hectares of mangroves through its CO2DC project at the Bakhaw Mangrove Forest in Del Carmen town, Siargao Island. Shore It Up is recipient of the Public Relations Society of the Philippines’ Anvil Award of Merit for sustained environmental program for the environment from 2011 to 2014, as well as the Best CSR in the Corporate Governance Asia Award in the same period.