A 13-member team composed of researchers from the University of St. La Salle, teachers and officers from the Department of Education Silay Division, and Barangay Lantawan of Silay City recently attended a symposium sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in their convention hall in Tokyo Japan last May 21, 2016. The Symposium, entitled “Plant a Tree in Peoples Hearts” was organized by Japanese Non-Profit Organization Mori wa Umi no Koibito (Moriumi) and was graced by Japan’s First Lady Mrs. Akie Abe.
The Symposium was intended to highlight the importance of integrated approach in environmental management, as well as the importance of education in starting an environmentally-conscious culture among the people. Keynote speakers included Mr. Shigeatsu Hatakeyama, founder and president of Mori wa Umi no Koibito, and the Japanese Deputy Director-General of the Ministry for the Environment Mr. Tokutaro Nakai.
The Philippine team composed of Dr. Neri Anne Alibuyog, Dr. Lynee Penaflor, Mrs. Salvacion Senayo, Mrs. Cristina Caballero, Mrs. Carren Roa, and Mr. Rodel Abellar from DepEd Division of Silay; Dr. Marissa Quezon, Dr. Romeo Teruel, Mr. Manuel de la Paz and Ms. Kimberly Casipe from the University of St. La Salle, Mr. Roger Parillon from Lantawan Farmers Association, and Mrs. Joy Nakamura as Philippine Coordinator for Moriumi.
The Philippine team presented the collaborative environmental education project initiated by Moriumi entitled, “Symbiosis Among Forests, Humans and the Sea” which started in January 2014 and will end December this year. The project involved biological, socio-economic, and hydrological research on Silay’s Malisbog River, results of which were used to create an environmental education module to be integrated in the curricula of public elementary and high schools in Silay City. The project is being funded by JICA and is a unique collaboration between Japanese NPO Moriumi, University of St. La Salle, Tokyo Metropolitan University, DepEd Silay, Local Government of Silay City and Lantawan Farmer’s Association. The Project is managed by Mr. Eiichi Yoshinaga of Moriumi.
Dr. Neri Alibuyog, Superintendent of DepEd Silay Division, as well as Mrs. Salvacion Senayo and Mrs. Cristina Caballero presented the environmental education module they finished this year. The module will be utilized for next school year. Dr. Romeo Teruel, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research of USLS, presented the results of their collaborative research between USLS Research Center and Tokyo Metropolitan University School of Urban and Environmental Engineering.
According to Mr. Yoshinaga, results of the studies will also be presented to the Local Government of Silay. Yoshinaga and Dr. Teruel hope that the recommendations of the studies will be used in the management of environmental resources, particularly Malisbog River, especially now that the newly-elected officers will be starting a new year in office. The project also wishes to coordinate with the Silay Governement and other institutions in order for the module to take off and be sustained long after the project ends this year.
Part of the symposium was a panel discussion on the importance of environmental education and stakeholder collaboration which was participated by Japanese First Lady Mrs. Akie Abe, USLS Biologists Mr. Manuel de la Paz and Ms. Kimberly Casipe, DepEd Silay Science teacher Mrs. Daisy Lopez, Moriumi Vice President Mr. Makoto Hatakeyama, JICA Deputy Director-General Mr. Kenichi Shishido, and TMU Associate Professor Dr. Katsuhide Yokoyama.
The discussion revolved around the issue on growing apathy among people towards the environment and how it is a common problem between the Philippines and Japan. Representatives from both countries emphasized how they have learned from each other in the past years of working together in environmental education. Mrs. Abe emphasized on education as one of the strongest solutions in changing people’s consciousness in taking care of the environment. Mrs. Abe’s advocacy on environmental preservation started when Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2011.