Flying on the wings of hope


I LOVE my schedule now. It’s fluid and I have no administrative functions. I do what I like to do, and right now two projects are taking up all my interest and attention.

I am really excited about the TV show, “G Diaries.” It was on the pipeline even before I became environment secretary, but it got shelved because of my appointment to a government position. Now that that’s gone, I am picking it up again.

I get a big kick out of communication. It’s sharing what I believe in. It is my way of giving by touching people’s hearts. It is an energy exchange. “G Diaries” allows me to do that.

My other big thing is ILOVE, or Investments in Loving Organizations for village economies.

The goal: Communities living high-quality lives in love, peace and harmony.

The plan: Each area of the Philippines is developed with a non-negotiable commitment to certain principles:

Commitment to integrity
Without integrity, we have nothing. This includes transparency, honest communication, genuineness. Nothing plastic, everything true. Duplicity will never bring on a high-quality life. It doesn’t ring true with our inner selves.

Ecological harmony
If we kill our air, our water, our land, no matter how much money is involved we will never live high-quality lives. The impact of the environment we live in extends far beyond the physical, into the emotional and, yes, even the spiritual. A year after I started cleaning the estero of the Pasig River, two gentlemen with doctorate degrees in social economics did a survey. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 97 percent of the residents said they had more fulfillment in life, 97 percent had more pride. According to the blotter incidents, there was a 40 percent drop in crime. More than 80 percent said that the economy improved. And all I did was clean! And make the place look more beautiful. There is an integratedness in life. If we kill the environment, we kill everything.

The Philippines, 7,000-plus islands with the highest endemicity in the entire planet. Seventy percent of our flora and fauna are exclusive to our country. We are the No. 1 country vulnerable to climate change. Experience shows us that we are clearly in a geohazard zone. When the environment is destroyed, the first to suffer are the poor. Keeping the environment beautiful unleashes economic potential.

Compassionate entrepreneurship
I come from a business family. My experience in development has given me the conviction that business is key. It’s not enough to give resources, we need to help the poor with value-added, with packaging, with access to market—all the way. We need to empower and train. Yes, they need to make money, but the attitude is not selfish. There is a sharing, a pay-it-forward attitude.

Working together in a convergent manner. It’s one plus one equals one hundred. Each one is a piece of the jigsaw puzzle, heart beating to the same pulse, with the same objective. Scientists, businessmen, the Church, civic society, everyone.

There is nothing that can stand in the way of a people united for a noble cause. Nothing. I LOVE is all about partnerships. We conduit funds, technology, work together with people. Sometimes, all a place needs is marketing. Well, “G Diaries” will do that. We work together.

I have a particular interest in biodiversity. The country with the most medicinal plants in the planet is the Philippines. Fifty-one percent of all cancer cures come from shells. The center of the center of marine biodiversity in the planet is the Philippines—in the Verde Island Passage in Batangas. Researchers from the California Academy of Arts and Sciences have been coming yearly for almost a decade and every year they discover hundreds of marine species. We need to explore this and ensure that our communities benefit.

I am even going to do this with mining companies which have passed the audit—to broaden their impact on the entire area. They have a lot of money but I feel that it can be used better. Having been in development, I know what a little money can do if it’s well-planned and well-used.

All over the world, the data shows us that a green economy creates more jobs, is better for the health of the people and has a much greater domino effect. I saw a clip by Arnold Schwarzenegger in which he expressed dismay over US President Trump taking the US out of the Paris climate change accord. He says that when California went renewable during his term, manufacturing, agriculture and industry went up. A green economy is the way to go.

I was really moved by Mark Zuckerberg’s speech in which he told millennials: “It’s not enough that we find our purpose—we want to create a world where everyone finds their purpose.” Tall order, right? But high aspirations are the stuff which leads to a bright future. And since my favorite song is “I Believe I Can Fly,” so I will fly on the wings of hope.

We dream, we hope… if you are interested in getting involved, email G Diaries is shown every Saturday at 8:30 in the morning on Channel 2.


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