ARNOLD Vandenbroeck, a key figure in a Davao-based environmental group, passed away on Wednesday afternoon, September 6, due to a biking accident.

Vandenbroeck was a founder and Board Emeritus of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), an environmental organization.

A dedicated environmentalist and advocate for community development, Vandenbroeck played a significant role in campaigns to protect Shrine Hills and expand green spaces in Davao.

Idis knowledge management officer Yvette Balayon-Mahinay described Vandenbroeck as generous, often sharing farm produce with office staff.

In 1974, two years following the declaration of martial law by former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., Vandenbroeck immigrated to the Philippines, dedicating himself to serving the church and community development. His journey led him to Davao City in the 1990s, where he co-founded Idis alongside his wife Norma Javellana and Karl Gaspar. 

Arnold also spent significant time in Agusan during the early 1980s and resided in Antique for eight years after the People Power Revolution in 1986. His efforts and activities were honored in 2011 when the King of Belgium knighted him with the "Order of the Crown."

"He was very hands-on with the activities and events in Idis. Sir Arnold would always impart his knowledge to the staff and suggest some ideas for the campaigns," Balayon-Mahinay said.

Balayon-Mahinay underscored Vandenbroeck's substantial contributions to the city, particularly in safeguarding Davao City watersheds, promoting sustainable transportation, and expanding green spaces, as well as the establishment of the Dabaw Lunhaw Awards, which the City Government of Davao subsequently adopted through Executive Order Number 29 Series of 2018. This order established the Lunhaw Awards for green initiatives and designated every September Lunhaw Month in the City.

"For us in Idis, Sir Arnold was more than a founder and an emeritus board member. He was a mentor, a friend, and an exceptional green warrior. We are forever grateful for his works and all his green initiatives contributing to protecting and conserving our Kinaiyahan [environment]," Balayon-Mahinay said.

A heartfelt Facebook post by Bayani Vandenbroeck, Arnold's son, revealed that his father sustained injuries in the biking accident.

"We are grateful for all the prayers and messages of support; they give us strength as we witness his impact in the lives of so many people," Bayani shared.

Bayani also disclosed that his remains would be cremated following his father's wishes, eschewing the traditional wake. As Vandenbroeck requested, his ashes would be scattered on the farm where he had planted thousands of trees.

Vandenbroeck is survived by his wife Norma Javellana, daughter Maya Flaminda, son Bayani Weredi, daughter-in-law Katrina Weredi, and grandson Niño. RGP