Reigning Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong from the Philippines and Miss Earth-Air 2015 Dayanna Grageda from Australia inspired the Filipino people to take action for Mother Nature in the Earth Talk forum held yesterday, October 15, at the Ricci Hall of the Community Center of the First Companions in Ateneo de Davao University.
With the theme, “Inspiring people, saving the world,” the event aimed to escalate awareness and concern for issues on the environment and assess what the Miss Earth Foundation and its crowned winners and participants have done in their mission to address said problems.
Ong and Grageda engaged in a panel discussion with representatives from different sectors of the Davao City community, with Ecoteneo Jacinto Director and Philippine Manager of the Climate Reality Project Rodne Galicha moderating the flow of the talks.
The forum touched on several important aspects on environmental issues, including Mindanao-specific concerns, government collaboration, youth participation, empowerment, and sustainable project financing.
Ong answered a query about the Miss Earth Foundation’s collaborations with the Philippine government.
“In the years before my reign, I remember [the foundation had] projects with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); we always have projects with them. But I don’t recall any major partnerships really associated with Miss Earth and the DENR.
“But I’m very happy that slowly, government organizations are reaching out to us, and recently, the AFP’s initiative, the Race to One Million Seedlings, is still ongoing, and they soft launched it around December,” she said.
Ong also pushed for the Philippines’ ratification of the Paris Agreement, a historic global agreement on reducing climate change.
“I know that the Filipinos have played a huge part for that agreement and I think we deserve to get this ratified as soon as we can. Again, climate change is no longer a myth. It’s here, it’s happening, and we feel it every day. I believe that the Filipinos have suffered a lot already, we’ve seen it,” she said in justifying why our country’s lawmakers should take appropriate action with regards to the agreement.
When asked about how the youth could be motivated to participate in making a change for the environment, Grageda emphasized that they need to be given a voice on environmental problems through whatever means possible.
“In Australia, I’ve been collaborating with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition; they’re young university students that are already passionate about change. By helping them in any way I can, and being involved in those things, it also gets youth involved. It’s important to get them a seat on the table because we need to get our youth [to help] in making decisions now, because they’re the ones going to be making those decisions in the future.
“If our leaders are making mistakes, our youth need to be right there, understanding that this is a mistake and they need to know that what we need to do in the future has to be different. I’ve also been doing school talks and visits with our younger generations; it’s been something that I really love doing,” she said.
Grageda also touched on using social media and the Internet as a whole as a medium of empowerment for the young, tech-savvy generation.
“Creating social media engagement is something really great because our youth is always on social media. So, make [environmental problems] something that can be shared, something that can become a trend. Make it something interesting, it’s not a distant issue, it’s happening now and we need to act on it,” she added.
Both speakers also emphasized the incorporation of the 5Rs: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Respect, into projects for environmental change.
The forum was broadcasted live through the Ateneo de Davao University’s Facebook page, and enabled the two beauty queens to engage with comments coming from the audience tuning in to the live stream.