Thursday, September 25, 2014


by Antonio C. Antonio
September 23, 2014

Environmental pollution is defined as the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse changes.  It is the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects. 

This brings to mind Barry Commoner’s Second Law of Ecology which states that: “Everything must go somewhere.”… That there are no actual “wastes” in nature and that there is no way that anything could be thrown away.  Therefore, anything that exists could only be converted to other forms of matter or energy but could not be totally discarded to render it non-existent.  There is an old Filipino adage that says: “Ang basurang itinapon, babalik at babalik sa iyo!”  (Any waste thrown away will eventually return to you!)

Pollutants can take the form of chemical substances or energy that are often classified as “point source” or “nonpoint source” pollution.  There are also natural processes in our ecosystem that cause pollution, such as:  (a) Volcanic eruptions; (b) Decomposition of biotic elements; (c) Microbial fermentation; etc.  There really isn’t much we could do about these natural causes since they are part of the system.  The more worrisome pollutants, however, are those we (ourselves) introduce into our environment such as the synthetic chemicals and materials that take a very long time to dissolve.  Human population or the meteoric increase in human population can also be considered a pollutant and a pollution scenario.  This worldview is maintained in the context of man’s dependence on the environment and his consumption/utilization of natural resources as means to survive.  Having stated these, it is not hard to imagine that the troublesome environmental pollutants are from anthropogenic or man-made sources or causes.

An interesting form of pollution is “noise”.  Noise (defined as: a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or causes disturbance and irritation) is largely considered as a pollutant because it also has harmful effects, although more psychological than physiological, to humans.

Discussing the sources of environmental pollution will allow us to understand their dire effects to the present and future generations and the environment in general… and the need to do something positive about it.  As Barry Commoner stated, pollution is here to stay.  We could only lessen the introduction of additional pollutants to lessen environmental pollution.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The IEC Approach

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 24, 2014

There are several approaches in popularizing environmental advocacies.  The most basic of which is the IEC Approach.  But what is the IEC Approach?  Is there anything more basic than the simple expediency of talking or evangelizing about the importance of a healthy environment?  I should emphasize that an environmental advocacy cannot be as simple as standing on a street corner and endlessly talking with the use of a public address system.  We would only add to noise pollution and get a lot of people irate by doing this.

Demagoguery and environmentalism cannot mix; and posers can easily be unmasked.  Although environmental information, data and statistics can be researched, the dynamics of ecosystems and environmental science in general can only be fully understood through a formal education.  The guidance of learned professionals and experts in the academe will certainly put more logic and order in the mindset of a genuine environment advocate.  The processing of traditional and new environmental information and knowledge can only be systematically done by a trained mind.  And only a trained mind can effectively gather facts, figures and evidence, analyze raw environmental information, and communicate the same to others.

An environmental advocacy must be approached in a structured way so that the processed information can be transmitted in a manner and language that is easily understood by the public.  The IEC Approach stands for the triadic approach called information-education-communication.  How does the IEC Approach work?  The accompanying image details a simple process flow.

  1. An environmental advocate, presumably trained in environmental science, manages a study and research on the environmental information and knowledge he/she intends to popularize;
  2. Such environmental knowledge are transmitted to the public using an IEC platform; and,
  3. A feedback mechanism to update, reformat and recalibrate knowledge to be re-transmitted again to the public.
This is a never-ending process of information and knowledge transmission and feedback between the environmental advocate and the public.  The success and effectiveness of this approach will depend largely on the presence of three elements/conditions in both the advocate/s and the public --- (1) KNOWLEDGE – Widespread knowledge of the issues involved; (2) BELIEF – Internalizing a firm belief in the cause by which an advocacy exists; and, (3) COMMITMENT – The willingness to tirelessly defend and pursue a cause.  This is the IEC Approach.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Upland and Lowland

by Antonio C. Antonio
June 27, 2013

QUESTION:  It is very difficult to search the internet about "upland governance," so some use "forest governance" instead.  But why use the term “upland”?  The common understanding of this term refers to public lands in the Philippines which may or may not be forested.  In this context, define or describe what an upland is using the following guide:

·         Define or describe upland geomorphologically.
·         What is and what is not an upland in Philippine context?
·         Is upland synonymous to public land and why?
·         Under whose jurisdiction should the public land be and why?
·         Should upland cities like Baguio and Tagaytay be included in that jurisdiction?
·         What is public land, and describe the Regalian doctrine that governs its ownership?


“Upland,” as opposed to “lowland,” is generally considered to be land that is at higher elevation than rivers on the lowland.  Uplands are commonly forested but widely isolated areas inhabited by patches of communities of indigenous peoples.  The weather in upland areas are generally cold while hot and humid typifies the weather in the lowland.

Upland has become synonymous to public land on account of it being remote and isolated where only a few people prefer to live.  It is normally far from the business and livelihood centers where people could be gainfully employed. 

The isolated nature of upland areas, another distinctive characteristic has developed… the lack of governance structure.  Cities like Baguio and Tagaytay are highly urbanized areas and have a functional government system… this makes them fairly different upland areas in the context of economic development.

The Regalian Doctrine refers to royal rights or the rights to which Kings and Queens have.  This is more often the situation that is created in places previously colonized by a more powerful nation.  The Theory of Jure Regalia is nothing more than the natural fruit of conquest.

These information should differentiate upland and lowland.

Just my little thoughts…

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Preserving Forest Biodiversity

by Antonio C. Antonio
June 28, 2014

Biodiversity is short for biological diversity.  Biodiversity is the term used to describe the dynamic interplay of the natural processes between plant and animal life on earth.  This includes the connections between these and all species (flora and fauna).  If we are to preserve biodiversity on earth (terrestrial or marine ecosystems), we must first understand the relationship between them (plants and animals) and the strong influence they have on each other.  Millions of animal and plant species have already been recorded but there are still many more to be discovered.

Countless number of studies and researches had already been conducted on the cause of biodiversity loss especially in the forest.  Most, if not all, of these scholarly documents seem to point to anthropogenic causes… meaning: man-made.  Disturbance regimes caused by man in forest areas because of land use conversion have been responsible for the extinction of many plant and animal species.  Something should really be done before all plant and animal life is gone forever.

There is no debate when it comes to the necessity of infrastructure intervention as a growth engine for economic development.  More often, forest areas are sacrificed in the name of progress.  But a great degree of conscience for biodiversity is needed.  There is always a pro-environment and biodiversity-protective way of doing things.  Take the case of this stretch of highway built in Taiwan.  (Please see picture.)  I’m very certain there are other infrastructure projects in your mind that are eco-friendly.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Environmental Values

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 16, 2014

Environmental values are the building blocks of environmental ethics.  Environmental values is defines as “worth that a community or society places on environmental goods and services such as aesthetic and recreational facilities and resources”.  In this case, values are also given not only to tangible natural resources but also to the intangible benefits we derive from Mother Earth.  Our attitude towards these values may change over time as we are exposed to new ideas, concepts, skills and competencies, and mindsets and worldviews.

A lot of goods and services from Mother Earth come for free and everyone has access to these.  It is everybody’s duty and responsibility to make sure these free goods and services plus the benefits derived from tangible natural resources are made available to largest number of people now and tomorrow as well.

Environmental values are the things that influence our own ethical standards about the environment, such as:

1.     Ecological values. – The ability to preserve our complex ecosystems and life, and the conservation and protection of our environment and natural resources.
2.     Concern for public interest. – The ability to provide the best benefits at the maximum level for the greatest number of people.
3.     Quality of life. – The ability to live a healthy and safe life in a natural environment where a well-developed culture exists.
4.     Concern for future generations. – The ability for us and future generations to exist on this earth without compromising quality of life.
5.     Concern for the poorest of the poor. – The ability to provide better living conditions and quality of life for the very poor in our society.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Mi Amiga en el Ecologismo

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 23, 2014

My dear friend and colleague in environmentalism, Ms. Jeannie Mahoney, posted this letter on my Facebook wall today.  I would like to share it with all my pro-environment advocate friends…

“Hello dear Anton, my environmental colleague --

News from NBC, ABC, CBS, CNBC:

You’ll be very pleased to hear that today, the day of the Autumnal Equinox, one day after the largest Climate March assembled in New York City, and one day before the President of the United States addresses the United Nations to open its Summit on Climate Change, the investment sector has lent credence to further the protection of our environment by beginning a world-wide divestiture of its holdings from fossil fuels to a commitment of investments in sustainable energy.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund today initiated a core-rattling challenge to the world-wide consortium of investment houses by announcing its withdrawal of $860M in assets from oil, beginning with tar sands. Kersplat! I could hear the jaws of the financial houses hit the board room tables all at once! This decision has given a symbolic boost to the new global campaign to divest $50Bn from fossil fuels to invest in sustainable energy in the next 3 years.

As you know Anton, but for oil, there may not have been a Rockefeller fortune. John and William Rockefeller were the co-founders of the Standard Oil Company, which at the time operated the world’s biggest refineries, and over time spawned Exxon-Mobil, Amoco and Chevron. John D. Rockefeller was the first to extract oil from the ground in the United States; he was also the first tycoon to feel the brunt of the US Anti-Trust laws from amassing unheard of amounts of money from oil. He was forced to break up Standard Oil to level the playing field. His heirs, whom I watched in the evening news a few minutes ago, believe that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy. I applaud their decision!

In addition to the Rockefellers, the World Council of Churches, representing some 590 million people in 150 countries – also pulled its investments from fossil fuels on Monday. The divestiture represented a turning point for a small movement which began by demanding that universities and municipal pension funds purge their investments of ties to the fossil fuel industry. About 30 cities now have chosen to divest, including Santa Monica and Seattle. I am working on the City of Sacramento to follow suit, though I’m proud to say that the Pension Fund for California state workers has freed itself of any oil holdings.

A number of universities have also started to cut their ties with fossil fuel, starting with Stanford University dropping coal holdings from its $18B endowment. The University of California, Harvard, and Yale are right behind, I understand.

This is a day of joy for me! I know my little grandbabies will have a cleaner future. I hope you’re as happy as I am!”

You could bet your bottom dollar that I am very happy my friend, Jeannie.  Thank you so much for the great news!  We all have reasons to rejoice!  Tomorrow will be a big day for Mother Earth!  “There is a sense that change is in the air.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 this 23 September to galvanize and catalyze climate action.  He has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.  Climate Summit 2014 provides a unique opportunity for leaders to champion an ambitious vision, anchored in action that will enable a meaningful global agreement in 2015.” (  With the good news that Jeannie shared, we are very glad that the United States, through President Barack H. Obama, has finally recognized the need for the US to gradually cut on carbon emission.  The US initiative will certainly move/compel China, India, Russia and Japan (the other members of the Top Five Carbon Emitters) to also do the same.  God bless America!

To you my friend Jeannie, thank you for doing your part in convincing the City of Sacramento to contribute to the effort. Estoy muy orgulloso de ser su amigo; me colega en el ecologismo. (I am so proud to be your friend; my colleague in environmentalism.)

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Philippine Environmental Advocacy Situation

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 19, 2014

There are several international environmental advocacy organizations, such as (1) Earth System Governance Project; (2) Global Environment Facility; (3) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; (4) United Nations Environment Programme; (5) World Nature Organization; and, (6) World Wide Fund for Nature.  Most of these international organizations have local counterparts and allied organizations.  But purely local or locally organized environment advocacy groups cannot be accounted for.  Research materials tend to show that they are fragmented and not clear on the specifics of their advocacies.  In fact, Wikipedia says that there is only one environment advocacy organization in the Philippines which is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Another disturbing fact is that pro-environment groups are largely informal organizations organized for a particular project or a one-day activity group.  Major television networks are the only credible local environment advocacy organizations at present.

There are worldviews that Filipinos are apathetic.  On the assumption that this statement is accurate, what is the reason for their apathy?  There is a reason for the apathy and the lack of concern for environmental issues from ordinary citizens.  “Poor as we are, Filipinos are more concerned about putting food on the table than environmental matters.  Given a choice between caring for the environment and exploiting it, many citizens are more likely to opt for natural resources exploitation if it meant livelihood and/or the survival for their families.”  (Antonio, 2014)  “Part of the Filipino culture is obliviousness; that so long as an issue or event does not affect him, he would brush it aside as mundane and trivial.  Environmental issues and concerns are exactly these: mundane (meaning: dull; lacking interest or excitement; or of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one) and trivial (meaning: details, considerations, or pieces of information of little importance or value).  This is the environmental folly (meaning: foolishness or lack of good sense) of the Filipino people.”  (Antonio, 2014)  All these sum up to a very puny and insignificant environmental advocacy movement.

There is still hope that environmentalism could be a future mindset in our country.  The Filipino, once fully aware of the environmental issues around him, will always react positively as he has done in other socio-political and economic cases in the past… and improve the Philippine environmental advocacy situation.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Environmental Ethics

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 15, 2014

Everyone should have ethics, a system of right or wrong, as their guide in their daily trials and tribulations.  And everyone who embraces an environmental advocacy must also have environmental ethics.  On a very personal level, if I were to state my own environmental ethics this is what I will come up with:


I am a Filipino and I believe in the capacity and capability of the Filipino race to embrace environmentalism as way of life.  I also believe that Filipinos can yet be the primary exponent of environmentalism in the world.  Having said this, I firmly believe that:

  • The Filipinos are God-fearing and believe that Mother Nature is God’s gift not only to the Filipino nation but to the rest of humanity.  The Filipino also believes that respect for Mother Earth translates to respect for our Divine Creator. Filipinos likewise acknowledge the fact that God’s provision of a liveable environment is not only intended for the present generation but for future generations as well.  It is therefore the duty of every Filipino to make sure that sustainability is the primary consideration in every human activity;
  • The Filipino family is the basic social unit in the Filipino’s social structure.  It is therefore incumbent among Filipino parents, who provide leadership in these social units, to accept the challenges and responsibility of molding their children into stewards of the environment in their youth and the rest of their adult lives.  This can best be exemplified by being role-models to their respective families;
  • As a Filipino parent, I am aware of the importance of a healthy planet and committed to living a pro-environmental life as a means to educate my children to be pro-earth crusaders; and,
  •  As a Filipino, I am committed to tooling myself with the necessary knowledge and relentlessly share these information not only to my family, my countrymen but to as many people from other parts of the world as well.

My nurtured dream and aspiration is along the line of (a) sustainable environmental management, (b) protection, preservation and development of natural resources, and (c) the promotion of social justice.  Sustainable development, in the purview of social justice and the environment, is the equitable distribution of opportunities for wealth and comfortable existence by the present generation while leaving the same opportunities for wealth and comfortable existence to future generations.  Towards this end, I shall:

  • Prioritize my life in this order: (a) God; (b) Family; (c) Country; and, (d) Environment;  Environment, being fourth, doesn’t necessarily be low in terms of priority;
  • Maintain a “clean” and “green” lifestyle on a personal and family level;  This is anchored on the concept of “Leadership by Example”;
  • Endeavor to relentlessly evangelize about ways and means to protect, preserve and develop natural resources by whatever means available to me and within my personal capacity;  The most cost-effective and cost-efficient means is through social media;
  • Enlist the support, cooperation and participation of a broad spectrum of stakeholders most especially the upland communities affected by environmental programs and activities;
  • Join other such activities that are aimed at the sustainable environmental management;
  • Join efforts to review and harmonize existing laws governing environment and natural resources management matters and concerns and then lobby for the enactment of ideal pro-environmental laws consistent with the protection, conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources; and,
  • Ascertain that all activities environment-related activities are geared towards sustainable environmental management to promote economic development that translates to social justice.

The Philippines is a democracy and, therefore, governed by laws.  Although most laws are pro-environment, some laws are not and are the cause of over exploitation and utilization of natural resources and, therefore, more harmful than protective and progressive.  Aside from increasing environmental awareness and encouraging pro-environment programs and projects (such as clean air, reforestation, waterways clean up, solid waste management, etc.), a more effective measure is by way of environmental legislative reform.  Towards this end, I, on a personal and/or organized level, am willing and totally committed to:

  • Encourage the institutionalization of both government- and civil society-sponsored pro-environment projects, plans and programs;
  • Enlist as much support, cooperation and participation from a broad line-up of stakeholders using the principles of participatory management as a means to mold public opinion;
  • Endeavour to review and harmonize existing laws, rules and regulations with the aim of crafting ideal public policies that would promote pro-environmental plans and programs;
  • Make certain that the new public policies are responsive to the needs of both man and environment; and,
  • Conduct reviews and oversight functions to make sure the intent of the laws, rules and regulations are followed to the letter; and, if re-calibration of public policies is needed, craft and lobby for amendments.

That whether on a personal capacity or organized movement, I am totally committed to pursuing environmentalism through the following methodology:

  • Tooling myself with knowledge on environmental matters and concerns (from institutions such as the academe and other sources of environmental information);
  • Increasing awareness of people within and beyond my sphere of influence on environmental issues (using environmental communication); and,
  • Crafting the necessary laws and orders to promote pro-environmentalism (by involving myself in the review, deliberation and crafting of workable and effective pro-environment public policies);
That I shall exercise good participatory management concepts to arrive at environment- and people-friendly public policies towards achieving social justice;

That I shall be relentless in these pursuits until sustainable environmental management means are institutionalized to protect Mother Earth from environmental degradation and man from the ill effects of environmental neglect; and,

That I hereby wilfully and whole-heartedly commit myself to these tasks without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.  So help me God.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Never Again!

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 21, 2014

42 years ago today, President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law through Proclamation No. 1081.

A few weeks before Martial Law was declared, Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. warned the entire Filipino nation of “Oplan Sagittarius”; a military-sponsored operations plan to encourage civil strife and hype a communist takeover as justifications to Proclamation No. 1081.  On August 21, 1971, while the opposition Liberal Party was having a miting de avance in Plaza Miranda (in Quipo, Manila), two grenades were exploded seriously injuring most of the opposition senatorial candidates while killing about a dozen people and wounding more than a hundred.  A few days after, Senator Aquino spoke again in the Senate to warn the public that after the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, Martial Law and the establishment of a Marcos-led garrison state was to follow.  Oplan Sagittarius culminated with a “staged” assassination attempt on Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile… who later admitted it was a hoax.  Proclamation No. 1081 was actually signed on September 17th and the “staged” assassination of Defense Secretary Enrile was on September 22nd… a day after Martial Law was announced. 

The formal announcement of the proclamation was made at 7:30 pm of September 23rd after the political opponents of Marcos and anyone perceived to be against Marcos were all herded to jail… with Senator Aquino as the prime target of the arrests.  History would later reveal that the only reason why President Marcos declared Martial Law was to perpetuate himself to power.  Senator Aquino was his most likely successor to the presidency.

On September 21, 1972, exactly 42 years ago today, President Marcos declared Martial Law.  This lone act effectively suspended the 1935 Constitution and dissolved Congress.  Marcos became supreme law and lawmaker in the Philippines.  The Supreme Court declared the imposition of Martial Laws as illegal and without basis but, on the other hand, said there is no way to stop it.  President Marcos was forced to lift Martial Law on January 17, 1981 as a condition to the first pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines for the beatification of Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz.  Martial rule was still very evident even after it was supposed to have been lifted… political persecution, disappearances and human rights violations counting to the tens of thousands continued.  The economy was in shambles from the wanton stealing of public funds by Marcos himself, his family, his cronies and the political and military elite.

The September 21, 1972 proclamation reads in part… Ferdinand E. Marcos:  “My countrymen, as of the twenty-first of this month, I signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law…”  To this, I say:  “Never again!”

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Critical Thinking Revisited

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 20, 2014

The incident that happened last Thursday (September 18, 2014) at the University of the Philippines where Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was “mobbed” by a group of student-activists is truly condemnable.  There is no way to justify violence and hooliganism as a means to express grievances.

This brings my thoughts back to March 5, 2014 when my daughter, Atty. Regatta Marie A. Antonio, a professor at UP Manila, and I posted this article on “Critical Thinking: Tatak UP” on Facebook.  The incident with Sec. Abad prompted me to re-post/publish the article ( on my blogsite.  Please read…

by Antonio C. Antonio
March 5, 2014

(My daughter, Professor Regatta Marie A. Antonio of UP Manila, posted this on her Facebook wall today. Yga is a product of UP Manila, got her law degree at San Beda College and took her bar review at the Ateneo Law School last year. Hopefully, she will be a lawyer after the Bar results are published anytime soon.)

“I've never attended rallies as a student, and now, as a professor, I've never encouraged my students to join rallies. But I have tremendous respect for those who march, or form pickets and fight for what they believe in.

It is a Constitutionally-protected freedom to express ourselves, to voice out our opinions, and to be heard when we have something to say. It is important to know our rights, and to fight for them, even to the death. It is, however, equally important to know the limits of our rights. Our rights end where the rights of others begin. While it is true that we have a right to be heard, we cannot compel people to follow what we order them to do, because it is their right not to. When others are also in the exercise of their rights, we cannot, and should not resort to violent means to achieve what we want.

UP has always been known to be a breeding ground for activists who say what needs to be said, and to take action against injustice and oppressive means. Through Honor and Excellence. Never through violence. That is not what we are made of. That is NOT UP.

We do not intimidate through sheer number. When we gather together for a cause, our cause is what unites us; Our cause is what makes us strong. Our conviction makes us powerful.

Our "Tatak UP" is not seen in the clothes we wear. It is neither demonstrated in how loud we can shout or how hard we can push or shove people, nor in the number of chairs, tables or doors we destroy when we exercise our rights. Our "Tatak UP" is in the way we think. It is in the way we analyze issues with critical thinking and openness; in the way we view the world from a different, wider perspective. That is UP. That is what we are, or at least, what we strive to be.”

My rejoinder…

Please allow me to weigh-in on some important points that Yga has so competently discussed.

The University of the Philippines being a breeding ground for activists is a no-brainer myth that can effortlessly be debunked (and no need for further explanation)… I agree with Yga on this issue. I have reservations, however, on her reasons for not encouraging her students to join rallies. The rallies today, characterized with such festive atmosphere, are more fun. So why not encourage her students to have fun? There should be a reason.

Yga’s generation, when they were still in school, enjoyed so much more political freedom than my generation. Some even contend that, because of the many freedoms they enjoyed, her generation is “soft” when it comes to hardcore national issues. Joining a rally or demonstration during the pre-Martial Law era was a most likely way of getting bloodied by a truncheon or landing in jail. Joining rallies in the late 1960's to early 1970's and the pre-EDSA Revolution period (1983 to 1986) was never a walk in the park. You must be willing to embrace violence as a possibility… violence that could be inflicted upon you and not by you. Like the demonstrators of old, the potential for violence from governmental authorities should define the character (strength, courage, resiliency and determination) of the demonstrators of today.

Today is a different story altogether. Student demonstrators, in some instances, are the ones who resort to violence as a means to highlight their opposition to any public policy. They abuse the leniency of police authorities because there is more democratic space and freedom now. I really would like to see if they are willing to do the same under an authoritarian regime or a police state like we had before. And they think they are patriots? In my book, they are nothing more than low-life vandals.

I’m glad Yga mentioned “critical thinking”… this is a vital component in the intellectual skillset of anyone who has the “Tatak UP.” “Critical” means crucial and gives the sense of discernment and judgement. Here are some views on critical thinking: “The skill and propensity to engage in an activity with reflective scepticism” (McPeck, 1981) and “Disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfection of thinking appropriate to a particular mode of domain of thinking” (Paul, 1989).

Core critical thinking skills include (1) observation, (2) interpretation, (3) analysis, (4) inference, (5) evaluation, (6) explanation and (7) metacognition. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as (a) clarity, (b) credibility, (c) accuracy, (d) precision, (e) relevance, (f) depth, (g) breadth, (h) significance and (i) fairness. Critical thinking, therefore, is simply a disciplined way of thinking which is clear, rational, open-minded and informed by evidence. “Tatak UP” will even go beyond the mere motions of intelligently answering questions but question the question until the right and relevant question is presented. In my mind, ito ang “Tatak UP”… and I’m glad my daughter and I shoot in the same direction on this matter.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Sustainability of Environmentalism

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 10, 2014

More than 20 years since the Philippines adopted Agenda 21, what have we accomplished as a country in terms of our environmental commitments? How can environmentalism be really sustainable?

“Dr. Cielito F. Habito outlined the track that should be taken towards Philippine economic development and mitigating the ill effects on the environment.  He mentioned the various plans and programs to address our problems in the areas of forestry, fishery, waste management, mining and air pollution.  Most of these are embodied in Philippine Agenda 21 and the Enhanced PA 21.  With Dr. Habito’s assertions, at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The primary concern of President Fidel V. Ramos during his term as leader of this nation was “people empowerment.”  He firmly believed that when the course of development (economic and social) is placed in the hands of “the people” themselves, they would always pro-actively react since it is their lives and future that is at stake.  Getting people aware of their duties and responsibilities in nation-building and in charting their own future is the ideal way in creating a ground-swell of involvement from the populace.

There is no easy way to get things done.  Development can only be sustained on a long-term basis.  We just can’t do things today and expect positive results tomorrow.  Economic and social development, like environment-focused plans and programs, have long gestation periods and there will be many challenges to hurdle.  Dr. Habito was generous enough to share a “to do” list for success:

1.     Political Will – Getting the national and local officials to understand and internalize the need for sustainable development as the only way to progress.  Political will also entails the cubing of corruption in government.

2.     People Empowerment – Getting people involved through the different LGUs (local government units), NGOs (non-government organizations) and POs (people’s organizations).  Example of which would be the various People’s Economic Development Councils.

3.     Law Enforcement – A no-nonsense enforcement of the laws on forestry, waste management, mining, fishery, etc.  We actually have an abundance of laws to cover a broad spectrum of economic activities.  They just need to be implemented.

4.     Philippine Agenda 21 – There should be a roadmap to sustainable development of the economy and the environment.  PA 21 should be seriously re-visited and integrated in present-day implementation of economic and environmental undertakings.  Where PA 21 works, it should be promoted and/or calibrated to fit present challenges.

5.     Harmonize Laws – We do have an abundance of laws but some of them are duplications and contradictions.  Duplicate and contradictory laws should be repealed or integrated to prevent waste and confusion in implementation.

6.     Harmonize Systems and Procedures – Government agencies often crisscross functions making it oftentimes tedious to get things done because of too much intervention from the different functional departments of government.  The circuitous systems and procedures in government only breed corruption.  This should be streamlined to allow for speedy processing, resolution and implementation of tasks.

If the above-listed “to do” list is diligently followed, I have no doubt that sustainable development is possible in the Philippines.” (Antonio, 2013, “Is Sustainable Development Possible in the Philippines?”,

Philippine Agenda 21 (PA 21) is a country-focused version of UNDP’s Agenda 21.  This was the vision of Pres. Fidel V. Ramos then… but after 20 years little progress has been made in pursuing PA 21.  After three presidencies (Joseph E. Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III) who were and is focused on their own socio-political and economic agenda and not necessarily sharing Pres. Ramos’ vision, PA 21 got lost in oblivion.  Continuity remains to be the biggest set-back in programs that take long gestation periods such as the environment.

In a problem-solving equation, the root cause of the problem is of central significance before we can come up with a matching solution.  We live in a democracy… therefore, we are governed by laws, rules and regulations.  In our system of government, the law dictates what is right or wrong for us.  Our laws should match what we think are for the good of our environment and people as well.  Therefore, to sustain environmentalism, we should focus where it matters most… reviewing, revising, harmonizing and crafting new laws that are pro-environment and pro-people.

Environmentalism is a just cause.  It echoes concerns through the borders of time; both present and future.  In all of us lives the sustainability of environmentalism.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Typhoon Mario

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 19, 2014

Metro Manila woke up again to the rhythmic pouring of torrential monsoon rains (meaning: falling rapidly and in copious quantities).  Although “Mario” is a relatively weak typhoon, news reports have it that the rainfall warning level for the entire metropolis is ”red”, classes and work has been suspended, utilities (electricity and water) are shutting down, and Metro Manila is again flooded, non-productive and a disaster area.  More disturbing is a weather bulletin that says this condition will continue in the next 36 hours.  The situation can be compared to Typhoon Ondoy that hit the Philippines in September 26, 2009.  On a lighter and trivial note, the vehicular color coding scheme has been suspended today… but, where could anyone go today?... unless you own an amphibious vehicle.

The question that persistently lingers in the minds of Metro Manilans is why do we again have to go through the same problem (of Ondoy) that gave us immeasurable suffering almost five years ago.  There has to be a logical explanation for all our trials.

Metro Manila floods are due to both natural and anthropogenic (man-made) causes.  As for the typhoons being part of nature’s system, there really is nothing much we can do but adapt to them.  The subsequent flooding that torrential rains cause goes beyond mere adaptation; therefore, mitigation should be the ideal order.  Serious concern should be put into the following issues:

1.     Massive campaign to increase the level of awareness of Metro Manila residents on solid waste management;
2.     Demolition of obstructive infrastructure along Metro Manila’s natural waterways; and,
3.     Dredging (cleaning out of waterway beds by scooping out mud, weeds and rubbish with a dredge) of our waterways (rivers and esteros).

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Environmental Bandwagon

by Antonio C. Antonio
September 9, 2014

Everyone is riding in the bandwagon of environmental advocacy. There are times when individuals, organizations and communities are just “doing it” because going green is the in thing to do.  There are green advocacies everywhere… fun run to save the planet, concert for a cause, etc.  Do you think all these are sustainable?

In the field of business management, a “bandwagon” means “it is the IN thing” but has negative connotations.  A bandwagon effect characterizes a business situation where there are too many players in a certain industry.  A dictionary meaning of “bandwagon” is “a particular activity of cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular”.  If an environmental advocacy is just a fad or craze (meaning: an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis for continued existence), conventional wisdom dictates that it will also or eventually go out of fashion.  This will not at all be encouraging for genuine environmental concerns where sustainability is a prime consideration.  This is really far from what we need to effectively do to pursue environmentalism.

The Filipino is a friendly and sociable being (meaning: the ability and willingness to talk and engage in activities with other people) who will always want to join and be present in fun runs, concerts, tree-planting, clean-ups, etc.  In this context, some degree of sustainability can be achieved.  But, then, we will also have to contend with the Filipino’s “ningas cogon” tendency/mentality (a term used to mean; being enthusiastic about starting a project or activity then losing interest before the undertaking is completed).

People normally get burnt-out especially when nothing substantial happens to any undertaking or the cause for such events is not clear.  The many EDSA Revolutions and the latter-day Million People Marches are good examples since they involve freedom and the basic right of people to be heard.

The Million People March started off like a house on fire with a respectable number of attendees.  The objective of the first event was clear… getting rid of the “pork barrel” system.  The second event, however, was a dismal failure on account of muddled issues.  There were two groups that people, in general, did not like… the left, for their unreasonably militant stance against government; and the politicians, for their selfish and self-serving political agenda.  And because of this, people refrained from joining.

The EDSA Revolutions, like the Million People Marches, also had the same fate.  EDSA Revolution I was clear in its purpose and objective to remove a dictatorship; EDSA Revolution II was also a political exercise aimed at expelling a corrupt president; and, EDSA Revolution III intended to unseat a more corrupt presidency and re-install a corrupt presidency.  All the EDSA Revolutions are anchored on the issue of corruption and abuse of power where people were glued together in a unified cause.  The absence of this unified cause spelled failure for EDSA Revolution II and III.

Advocacies (like political causes), to include environmental advocacies, therefore, can only succeed with three key conditions:  (1) KNOWING – Widespread knowledge of the issues involved; (2) BELIEVING – Internalizing and a firm belief in the cause by which an advocacy exists; and, (3) BEING COMMITTED – Means people are willing to defend their cause and are even willing to die for their cause (as exemplified in EDSA Revolution I).  These three conditions will lead to the creation of a “critical mass”.  Critical mass is the minimum number of people required to start and maintain an advocacy… opposed to “hakot” mass (a situation where people are paid to attend political gatherings).

Given the three conditions I mentioned, the Philippines is not yet ripe to embark on a sustainable honest-to-goodness environmental advocacy.  The pockets of environmental advocacies today have yet to come up with a unified and meaningful environmental cause based on widespread educated knowledge.  This is not to say that we are a hopeless case.  These pockets of environmental advocates can hopefully come together and unite in a unified cause to create the much-needed critical mass.  Knowing, believing and being committed to an environmental advocacy is a worthy path to follow.  It seriously is not just an environmental bandwagon.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Worthy Advocacy to Champion

by Antonio C. Antonio
August 29, 2014

If you will be a champion in an environmental advocacy, what or which environmental issue would you like to work on? What approach will you use? Explain the global significance of your advocacy.

If I were to choose an environmental advocacy, I would choose “Participatory Public Policy Review in the Philippine Uplands” to promote environmentalism and social justice.

Among the approaches identified by Tearfund, I am inclined to prefer Column No. 2 (Mixture of NGOs, professionals and local community).  Column No. 3 (Local people/groups) is seemingly a miniscule group that may not be able to influence public policies while Column No. 1 (NGOs, trade unions, political representatives, professionals, etc.) is a “too-broad” group that will be very hard to handle.  Besides, the presence of politicians (who represent a “dole out” regime/dispensation) and unions (normally militant and self-indulging) may be a bad combination and a failure waiting to happen.  The more important goals would be (1) to encourage participation among the stakeholders, (2) to hasten decision-making processes, (3) to review and revise inconsistent and non-applicable public policies, (4) to encourage a sustainable advocacy among the stakeholders, (5) to attract outside intervention, assistance and support, (6) to get the stakeholders involved in problem identification and strategy formulation, and (7) to increase the knowledge and awareness of the stakeholders on specific issues that affect them.  These objectives are attainable using a “mixture of NGOs, professionals and local community”.  The prospect of NGOs controlling and setting the agenda will be more acceptable than politicians or government agencies dominating this “mix” of advocacy development participants.

To review what is actually happening at present and to understand the peculiarities of the Philippine uplands, please allow me to reprint a portion of an article I wrote before:

“The normal practice in upland governance is to organize “multi-sectoral taskforces/committees” to deliberate, implement and monitor programs and projects and (oftentimes) bestow upon them extra-ordinary police, administrative and controlling powers.  These taskforces/committees are usually composed of the following:

·         DENR representatives from the National, Regional, Provincial and Community Offices;
·         Local Government Unit (LGU) representatives from the Provincial and Municipal Governments;
·         People’s Organizations (PO) representative (more often) coming from the Indigenous People’s organization/community (IPs) in the affected areas;
·         Civil Society representatives (more often) coming from the environment advocacy groups; and,
·         The private proponents or investors.

This sort of power is very dangerous in the hands of people to know less of what is expected of them.  Please consider the following possible scenario:

·         The DENR representatives, perceived to be corrupt, will often leave glitches in the system to create opportunities for corruption;
·         The LGU representatives are politicians, are easily swayed by populist considerations and could have been elected because of popularity… not knowhow, skill and intelligence;
·         The IP representatives are just there for a ride and would not really know what’s going on;
·         The Civil Society/environmentalist organization representatives are often inflexible and would always take a very militant stance… the “basta” attitude.  They are often quoted as saying: “Basta!  We object!”… and when asked to lay the basis for their objections, they will simply repeat their rehearsed refrain: “Basta! We object!”
·         The private sector representatives, also representing business interest, will always want to put one over the others.

All these characters put together is a perfect formula for disaster.  And the cost for such failure and incompetence would translate to certain and sometimes irreversible and irreparable damage to the environment.” (“Actors in Upland Governance”, July 4, 2013,

As part of the recommendation, I also made this comment: “Acts of graft and corruption are born out of ignorance… it will be hard for people to wheel and deal when others are in the know.  Academicians could create this awareness among the actors and motivate them to properly set up to the challenges ahead.” (Antonio, 2013)  Having said this, I believe the inclusion of the academe in the group in Column No. 2 will be a wise and ideal addition.

I believe that our environment-related ills are directly related to the many confusing public policies we have at present.  As a democracy, we are governed by laws but such laws should translate to the betterment of lives (social justice… meaning: justice in terms of the equitable distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society) and the protection of the world we live in.  Our socio-economic-political malaise is anchored on our contemptuous and twisted view of social justice.  This likewise influences the manner by which we treat our environment.

Examples of conflicting Philippine laws in the upland are Executive Order Nos. 23 and 79.  Please find time to read: “Conflicting Public Policies”, September 20, 2013, (

A comprehensive review of public policies will and should result to:

1.     The weeding out of out-dated and non-applicable laws especially those that were promulgated prior to the 1987 Constitution directly concerning natural resources (Philippine Constitution, Article XII, Section 2);
2.     The identification of repetitive, overlapping and conflicting laws and harmonizing the same within the lines of social justice and environmentalism;
3.     The rationalization (meaning: organizing something into a logically coherent system) of upland-based industries to prevent illegal extracting activities;
4.     The sustainable (meaning: the present generation’s utilization of natural resources while leaving the same utilization capability for future generations) utilization of resources; and,
5.     The institutionalization of environmental advocacies as a more structured system and measure to (a) increase knowledge and awareness on environmental matters and concerns, (b) promote participatory management in the uplands, (c) safeguarding our natural resources; and, (d) promoting social justice.

I also believe there are enough renewable natural resources for everyone to sustainably utilize and there are ways to ensure that these resources are also made available for the utilization of future generations.  Our primordial concern is for the non-utilization of non-renewable resources and the sustainable utilization of renewable resources.  Crafting the right and ideal laws to protect both man and his environment should be everybody’s end in mind.  With this, we could be an environment and social justice-focused democracy the world could look up to.  To me, this is a worthy advocacy to champion.

Just my little thoughts…

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