AS I read news last Monday morning, I was saddened to know that former DENR secretary Gina Lopez passed away at 65. Sec. Gina's stint at the DENR was short. In May 2017, the Commission on Appointments voted against her confirmation, ending her 10-month tenure. In February 2017, she ordered 23 mines shut and five others suspended. She also cancelled 75 contracts for mining projects located in watersheds.

Here's the article I wrote about her in June 2016 upon her assumption as DENR secretary.

And so the big announcement came. Gina Lopez, a known environmentalist, has been offered the post and she accepted it. News of her appointment instantly created waves. Environmental NGOs were happy but investors in the mining sector panicked because she is a known-anti-mining advocate. Share prices of mining companies went down.

Who is Gina Lopez? Other than being a scion of the influential Lopez family, she is a staunch environmentalist. She is the chairperson of both the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, the charitable institution of ABS-CBN Corporation, and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. Among her projects during her stint with ABS-CBN Foundation are Sagip Kapamilya, Bantay Bata 163, the reforestation of the La Mesa Watershed Reservation, and the rehabilitation of the Pasig River and nearby urban esteros through the Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig project.

The most well-known among the institutions under her is Bantay Kalikasan. In 1999, Bantay Kalikasan started a reforestation program in the 2,700-hectare La Mesa Watershed Area through its "Save the La Mesa Watershed" campaign. The idea was to get the public involved in saving the watershed by adopting trees. Other significant projects of Bantay Kalikasan are the development of the La Mesa Eco-Park, BK Environmental Hotline, Bantay Baterya, Bantay Langis and H2Hope.

Bantay Kalikasan Patrol aired in the early 2000s to encourage compliance to environmental laws as it exposed individuals, agencies and companies who abuse the environment. It likewise highlights good practices that promote environmental awareness and conservation. Another project, Bantay Basura promoted awareness and lobbied for an effective solution to the solid waste problem; Bantay Usok aimed to reduce Metro Manila's vehicular smoke emissions to acceptable standards. It initiated the Clean Air Act Signature Campaign and was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Act in the country.

I only met the incoming DENR secretary once. Years ago (can't remember exact date) during the height of my paper recycling campaign in the country, she requested for a personal meeting with me in her home in Quezon City to discuss paper recycling programs. After the meeting, I got the impression that she is a very simple and modest lady.

The Lopez group of companies, including their ABS-CBN Foundation, has supported many of the recycling events of which I was part of. Some of those recycling events were held near the ABS-CBN Studio. The Lopez Group also held their own recycling events, with all of their companies bringing recyclable materials, especially paper, to these events.