Palawan town taps youth as wildlife protectors
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — In a municipality with almost half of its territory occupied by forest land, its local government is tapping its youth to cascade to their parents the importance of wildlife conservation and protection.
Speaking to a small group of journalists on Wednesday, May 22, a designated municipal officer of Brooke’s Point in the southern region of Palawan said their new campaign aims to bring wildlife protection awareness to their community.
“Iyun po yung sinisimulan namin ngayon na talagang dapat doon sa mga bata magsimula kasi yung kamalayan kumbaga ng mga bata medyo inosente sila,” Rebecca Gadayan said.
“Pero kapag naiintindihan din nila kung bakit nangyayari sa paligid nila yun para naman yung influence nila sa parents nila e dun po kami papasok,” she added.
She said that the conservation campaign, which was launched last March, aims to educate elementary and high school students on the need to preserve wildlife through “Makmak” the campaign’s mascot which is based on a blue-naped parrot.
The blue-naped parrot, or locally-known as “Pikoy,” is one of the most poached and illegally traded bird species in Palawan.
Gadayan explained that the name “Makmak” is a portmanteau of the words “makakalikasan,” “makabayan” and “makatao.”
“Yung kwento nila sa parents nila, na ‘Ay ganito pala, dapat pala alagaan si Makmak o alagaan yung mga buhay ilang (wildlife), hindi pala sila dapat kinukulong, hindi pala sila dapat hinuhuli, dapat pala panatilihin silang malaya, yung mga ganong simpleng kwento lang po na mayroon ding impact doon sa family mismo, lalo na yung mga nag-aalaga pa po nung mg buhay ilang, katulad ng Pikoy, nung mynah,” Gadayan said.
“Marami po kasi yan at sila po mismo na nasa kabundukan nakikita naman nila yun at sila mismo nagsasabi na unti-unti nawawala po, tinatanong din naman namin sila ‘Bakit kaya nawawala?’ Kasi nga po…nahuhuli at inaalagaan, minsan for commercial purposes…diyan po kami masyadong dapat tumutok ng kampanya para sa proteksyon [nila],” she further noted.
The campaign is in partnership between Brooke’s Point’s local government and the Protect Wildlife Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
According to Lawrence San Diego, the project’s communications manager, the campaign was designed through a 10-day intensive Campaigning for Conservation (C4C) training by the Protect Wildlife Project.
“Tinuturo po namin dito sakanila yung paggamit ng campaign para makapagbago ng kaisipan, ng attitude at ng behavior para mag-contribute to a bigger conservation goal, which is for Brooke’s Point, is stronger protection of their forest and their wildlife,” San Diego said.
“Merong workshop bago sila nakagawa ng design ng campaign, pinagaralan muna nila yung theories, o kaya ng psychology, bumisita ng communities, nag-design pa [sila] ng parang survey, questionnaire, sila gumawa no’n, tapos dinala nila sa community para i-test,” he added.
Why the youth?
Gadayan said Brooke’s Point’s local government had targeted parents in the community in past environmental campaigns.
Sadly, she said, it did not have any lasting effect.
“For the longest time, ang dami-dami nang mga campaigns, environmental campaigns po na nangyayari, tinuturuan pa sila ng tamang, katulad ng pagka-kaingin (slash and burn system), isa sa mga nakakasira din ng ating kabundukan, yung mga matatanda talaga, yung mga audience niyo at mga recipient…siyempre yung mga heads of families yung mga parents po,”
“Pero nakita po namin na pagalis po ng programa, wala na din, babalik na naman sila sa dati. Ganun po. Kaya po tinitignan po namin ngayon yung approach na sa mga bata po tayo magsimula…Ano kaya ang magiging impact no’n sa parents, iyun po yung gusto namin makita, baliktarin natin ang kampanya, since parang hindi naging succesful doon sa mga matatanda, bakit di natin subukan na yung mga bata naman kumbinsihin na mangumbinsi din sakanilang mga magulang,” she added.
Gadayan said that the campaign would be brought to schools across Brooke’s Point, where “Makmak” would educate the youth about the importance of the environment and promote behaviors that would protect wildlife species and their habitat.
According to the USAID, Brooke’s Point is one of the five municipalities in Palawan “encompassed by the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL).”
Mt. Mantalingahan, which is a key biodiversity area, “is one of the ten sites of the Alliance for Zero Extinction in the Philippines and one of the 11 important bird areas in Palawan,” the USAID said.
“Most of the threatened and restricted-range birds of the Palawan Endemic Bird Area occur in the Mantalingahan range and the adjacent lowlands,” the USAID added. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.