Celebrating more than four decades of biodiversity conservation, members of environmental group Haribon Foundation convened in its 44th annual General Assembly on June 3 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Training Center.
Yearly, Haribon gathers its members to give an update on the previous year’s program accomplishments and collect inputs for future projects and strategies. Hosted by new Haribon members Apples Jalandoni and Chester Lobramonte, this year’s assembly was also extra special as members had the privilege to elect five of their peers to the Board of Trustees.
Among the newly elected trustees are Noel Resurreccion and Conrado de Jesus while Jose Mario C. Francisco S.J., Ma. Regina Jimenez-Lopez, and Paul Andrew Tan were re-elected to the board.
In his welcoming address, Vice-Chairperson Dante Francis Ang 2nd recalled the humble beginnings of Haribon as a small bird watching club before it became the pioneer environmental organization in the Philippines.
Moving forward, he challenged everyone in the room to make the organization bigger and louder in its advocacies as it celebrates its 45th year.
“I think that people do not really appreciate the wealth that we have as Filipinos. We need to build a bigger base of volunteers because what we do here is important work,” Ang said.
Treasurer Alejandro Flores presented the financial report discussing a minor decline in funding as compared to year 2015. Funders focusing more on less developed nations and the rise of likeminded groups in the environmental arena were pointed as reasons for the slight downturn.
In the assembly, members have the opportunity not only to connect with other members but also to share their eco-experiences and join in an open discussion about future Haribon activities.
Member April Enriquez told Haribon that she gets to join activities that she would not have otherwise, if it not for her active membership in the environmental group. “I learned how to do birdwatching and tree identification,” said Enriquez.
Central to the incoming projects are programs to expand membership including a huge festival on its anniversary month in November.
“Every general assembly, we make it a point to hear out what our members have to say about what it means to be a Haribon member and to share their inspiring and oftentimes challenging journey in caring for the environment and biodiversity,” shared Arlie Endonila, constituency development manager for Haribon Foundation.
Environmental advocate mom, Sherry Gocheco, shared her expertise in practicing household composting during the assembly. In addition to the three Rs of conservation—Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle—Gocheco advocated a fourth one to the list: Refuse.
She refuses the use plastic bags in groceries, printed electric bills, and even the purchase of commercially produced shampoos. Instead, she brings her own e-co bag when shopping, has her bills e-mailed, and makes her own shampoo with water and baking soda. “Refusing stops the demand,” Gocheco said emphasizing that this way of life can end the cycle of waste proliferation.
On the other hand, David Quimpo, a member and wildlife researcher invited his fellow members to take part in the monitoring of urban birds on June 24 and 25. Quimpo remarked that the simple act of observing the birds in the city, taking pictures, and sharing them to Haribon are already an important contribution to the scientific endeavor that is essential to conservation.
Toward the end, the newly elected officers of the board thanked the assembly for their participation and trust. “As members of the board, we expect that you are also on board in all our common pursuits for conservation,” Resurreccion addressed the members in his acceptance speech.
MARYJO BERNADETTE EVORA AND DANIELLE G. QUILALAN/HARIBON FOUNDATION