A pitch for environmental thrusts-A A +A
By Ramon Dacawi
Friday, October 19, 2012
THREE youths, I guess still in their teens or early 20s, dropped by the office in November, 2009. They were up here to make a pitch for fund support to the World Wildlife Fund, that prestigious world-wide nature conservation group active in our country.
They were referred to us, apparently because, now and then, we write about local environmental efforts and, now and then, repair with kids to our watershed where they explore its flora and fauna and plant or tend to a pine seedling.
The young visitors went away empty-handed. Still, they told us they understand why we couldn’t pitch in for now. Later, we felt we were subtly arrogant, noting we didn’t even ask for their names. We could have refreshed our own youthful idealism and activism way back in the ‘70s if only we had asked and listened to them share us why they volunteered to work for the future of the world’s environment.
Instead, we told them money is not the problem. It’s the answer to the problem, but that we didn’t have the answer.
If it’s a saving grace, we assured to help them make their pitch through this corner, supposedly a warm bench turned cold by guilt bordering on remorse over our deflecting them from their purpose.
It was a sneaky ploy, our harping on local environmental efforts that, we rubbed in, also badly need support as they run almost on empty. (Never mind if some of these local efforts and programs were and are used – without the knowledge and consent of the working volunteers - to obtain from abroad funds that are now used for programs (and travels abroad) other than the ones used in the premise of the project proposal.)
Still, our turning the tables on our youthful visitors was only a rung higher than the despicable depth we, boys in high school, would go to whenever a generous girl classmate we had borrowed money from would approach to ask repayment. Before she could make her pitch, we’d preempt her by asking if she could lend us more.
It’s a Third World attitude of dependence, of our seeing the West through a one-way mirror. We share the common view that it’s the developed countries’ responsibility to support our efforts in the so-called South. After all, they developed and continue to progress through the exploitation of our raw natural resources, say, “blood” diamond in Africa and gold, timber and water up here in the Cordillera.
What brought our sense back - after the youths left - is the fact that WWF is not and never was a business corporation spurred by material acquisitiveness and profit. More than that, it’s a fact that WWF is always at the forefront of credibility, be it in leadership, work on the ground and transparency.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 20, 2012.