BFF Virlin Rose Mahinay, BS Biology, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan
Take a step back.
Look around and ask yourself – what is happening?
As I look into the information concerning the environmental issues in our society, I get frustrated. I did not know where and how to start. I paused and reflected yet I got more scared and I came across a post “if it scares you, chase it even more”. Upon seeing this, it then became my biggest motivation. The reason why I still chose to stay as a member of this fellowship. Hearing the resource speakers share their experiences throughout the webinars fanned the fire that I already had. As a result of this, I became inspired to learn more about forest protection.
The frustration lingered with me each day. The Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental landscape is a wide range for someone who does not know where to start. One can be overwhelmed by the situation and funding. For days, I felt despondent because our group was unable to identify an issue in our first week in the BFF Movement Fellowship Program. Due to the extreme coronavirus pandemic, it seemed impossible to estimate the project’s place of interest, but that did not deter us from reaching out. We emailed a lot of people including researchers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources working on a project with regards to the Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park Watershed and the head of the Mangrove of Macajalar project of Xavier University Ateneo de Cagayan. A few days later, we received a reply from the Macajalar project head researcher. We had a virtual meeting with Sir Jefferson Vallente, and we were able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We had a slim shot of receiving a response, but we sent the letters out anyway. Getting out of your comfort zone is one thing, but to think outside the box is another. Take a leap and believe in yourself that you are capable of completing the deliverables and that you are a steward of creation. You can use this to be the community’s voice and encourage them to get more involved in the solution.
With that being said, our group opted to focus on Barangay Bonbon, Misamis Oriental, which is one of the barangays that share a coastline located in one of Macajalar Bay’s deep-water harbors. It is not just the fact that the barangay’s potential mangrove site is 7.74 ha and located in the lower intertidal zone that piqued the group’s attention, but also the community’s involvement. None of the group members have visited the site, but as Kagay-anons, we were genuinely concerned about their commitment to mangrove preservation in their community. Citizens must be prepared for floods and other natural phenomena, but this can be mitigated if everyone contributes to the preservation of our natural resources. As a result, the group has launched the “Pag-Asa Movement: Restoring Endemic Mangroves in Barangay Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City by Empowering Youth and Engaging Community Members to be Forest Advocates.” When translated into English, Pag-Asa means hope, and our project goal is to urge the community to join the movement with a single act of kindness that has a ripple effect.
Forest Foundation Philippines, in partnership with Edukasyon.ph, its grantee, implemented the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (#BFFMovement) Online Fellowship Program to support young forest advocates in the country’s most critical forest landscapes – Sierra Madre, Palawan, Samar and Leyte, and Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. Through the program, students were given access to learning resources, mentorship opportunities, and platforms to showcase their passion projects. This published material is a passion project of our Best Friend of the Forest. The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of our Best Friend, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Forest Foundation Philippines and Edukasyon.ph. Furthermore, both Forest Foundation Philippines and Edukasyon.ph assume no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate or incomplete information presented in this material.