Abrigo: And the earth mourns

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“SERVICE to humanity is service to God” is the undying slogan of the country’s unparalleled eco-warrior Regina Paz “Gina” La ‘O Lopez who passed away on Monday. Her corporeal self may be buried and forgotten but her philanthropic and environmentalist spirit will live on.

Honestly, I do not personally know this lady and got only inspiring information from reliable media sources that had the chance of knowing her. Her name rings to my auricles when she was picked by President Rodrigo Duterte, days after the 2016 election, to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in ad interim capacity.

The marching order was to protect the environment and preserve the ecological balance. So with her own ingeniousness, she audited all mining firms throughout the archipelago, that in a short span of 60 days, 26 mining firms were halted for non-compliance of the environmental regulations.

Gina is an icon of environmental conservation ever in the history of this country. Her advocacy did not start and end with her 9-month term in the government. She launched the Save Palawan Movement, the historic 7 million signatures gathered to petition against mining in Palawan for the protection of biodiversity.

“Life is beautiful” as she described her life that has a golden spoon at birth but chose in an ascetic life as a missionary to Portugal, Africa and India. She left the comfort of life and become a fully immersed philanthropist for two decades and returned home in 1990 honed for another mission.

Aside from heading Bantay Bata 163 to advocate the children’s rights and protection, she also founded the Bantay Kalikasan that rehabilitated the 2,700-hectare La Mesa Watershed. Included in the database of her accomplishments were the cleanup of Pasig River, Laguna Lake and the Manila Bay.

After cleaning it all, Gina said cleaning the river is not just cleaning but reconnecting to the essence of what we are. “We are essentially a river people (taga-ilog) and for a river people to live in filth goes against our very soul.”

Gina was the first Filipino awardee of the prestigious Seacology Prize, bestowed on October 5, 2017 at Berkeley, California.

Ending her term in the government, she sang with her staff in DENR “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky”, and since Monday, the earth is mourning for losing a true-blue environmentalist, a warrior for God’s wonderful creation. May her seeds spring in many parts of the country and her spirit lives with her eternal slogan “Service to humanity is service to God”.


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