Students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) marked their last day of classes by commemorating Earth Day with a tree planting activity on Sunday with members of the Luntiang Pilipinas Party-list.

Founded by Senator Loren Legarda in 1998, the “green” movement has already planted 2 million trees in 33 provinces, 28 cities, and 84 municipalities across the country.

Luntiang Pilipinas Party-list nominees Michael Ubac and Ciara Sotto––were invited to speak at the activity conducted under PUP students’ National Service Training Program (NSTP)––both highlighted the need for the youth to get involved in protecting the environment.

“All these efforts will be useless if our countrymen, especially the youth is not educated on the importance of preserving and protecting our environment.”

“Luntian’s precept is ‘Sa Bawat Punong Itanim, Buhay ang Aanihin.’ We all see the pressing need for planting trees and educating our citizens, especially our youth, on the importance of preserving our environment,” said Sotto.

“No matter how many trees we plant or how many laws we pass to protect our environment, all these efforts will be useless if our countrymen, especially the youth is not educated on the importance of preserving and protecting our environment,” she added.

Ubac, a veteran journalist with degrees from the University of the Philippines and Harvard, discussed his Master’s thesis entitled “Building Climate Resiliency in the Philippines: A Bottom-up Approach to Implementing Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies Through Analysis of the Impacts of Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013.”

The paper won Harvard’s prestigious Director’s Prize for Outstanding Thesis.

According to Ubac, “more than learning about the issues that led to the tragedy of Yolanda, working on my thesis made me realize that of all the issues I was covering as a journalist, the main issue of our time is the environment.”

“The environment is not given the importance it deserves, even if literally the fate of the entire planet hangs in the balance.”

“Unfortunately, even if our country is one of the countries most adversely affected by climate change, the environment is not given the importance it deserves, even if literally the fate of the entire planet hangs in the balance,” stressed Ubac.

“This is an attitude we want to change, and we believe we have the best chance to convince more people if the youth is on our side.”

Ubac explained that the tree planting activity was overseen by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure that the trees would be planted properly in PUP’s Academic oval.

Around 60 three year-old santol, tamarind, and mango saplings were planted in the campus, with PUP President Emanuel De Guzman and teachers on hand to witness the event.

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