[7 December 2017] Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University–North La Union Campus (DMMMSU-NLUC) recently bagged top honors at the recently concluded 2017 Search for the Most Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Schools in the Philippines.
The contest was organized by the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-EMB), the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) in partnership with PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications Inc., One Meralco Foundation and other partners.
The competition recognizes academic institutions with the best eco-friendly programs and activities and seeks to encourage schools to become more actively involved in environmental issues. It is open to all levels from public and private schools and universities.
The search was organized to enable the education sector to respond to climate change and disasters, said DENR climate change service chief Elenida Basug. “Through education and programs like this, we help deepen the students’ understanding of the environment, so that they may contribute to finding solutions for environmental problems.”
DMMMSU-NLUC was recognized together with the other school awardees during a ceremony at SM North Annex in Quezon City last Nov. 21. Divisoria High School in Santiago, Isabela, won the grand prize in the high school category while Payao Elementary School in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, received the honors in the grade school category. Prizes include P50,000 for each level champion, and P40,000 and P30,000 for the second and third runners up, respectively, plus plaques of recognition.
Their comprehensive environmental program that is deeply embedded in the school curriculum has helped them win the award, according to DMMMSU-NLUC chancellor Jaime I. Manuel Jr. The 925-hectare heavily forested campus has benefited from continuous tree planting, proper waste handling, and landscaping efforts.
Representatives of DMMMSU-NLUC led by Chancellor Jaime I. Manuel Jr. (center, holding plaque of recognition) receive the grand prize in the college category of the 2017 Search for the Most Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Schools in the Philippines. Joining them are contest organizers and sponsors led by DepEd External Services Director Margarita Ballesteros (fifth from left), DENR Climate Change Service Chief Elenida Basug (right), and Smart community partnerships senior manager Nova Concepcion (sixth from right).
“Continuous tree planting has provided us with fresh air and a source of potable water not only for the campus but also the nearby barangays. We have also set a good example to the people within our community in the proper handling of waste. Our students are also maintaining areas to showcase their landscaping efforts,” said Manuel.
The competition’s sponsors also presented special awards to other participating schools. The Meralco Energy Leadership Award, which promotes innovations in energy conservation, was handed out by One Meralco Foundation to the following schools: Sta. Rosa Elementary School in Santiago, Isabela; Luzong National High School in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; and Universidad de Zamboanga in Tetuan, Zamboanga City.
“We are not only part of the environmental problem; we are the problem. But since we are the problem, we are also the solution. We’re glad that this effort is being started with schools, because it’s where future leaders will come from,” said Smart community partnerships head Darwin Flores, adding that the company will continue supporting the competition.
“We’re glad that Smart has been with us since the beginning of the search,” Basug said of the competition, which was launched in 2009. The contest, which is held every two years, is on its 5th edition this year.
The event was part of the activities for the National Environmental Awareness Month and Clean Air Month last November. The nationwide search is part of the Philippine initiative to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Environmental Education Action Plan 2014-2018 and Asean’s 50th anniversary, with the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”
As part of initiatives toward national development, Smart has been working with the government and other partners to help address gaps in the areas of environment and education, as well as disaster preparedness, health and livelihood.