By Sara Grace C. Fojas
Caring for the Earth, for Gina Lopez, is the natural expression of her spirituality. She believes that taking care of the environment carries a Divine Energy and it has a massive impact on people’s lives.
An environmentalist who made it her mission to protect the biodiversity in the Philippines, Gina Lopez is the daughter of ABS-CBN’s Geny and Chita Lopez. She fled the Philippines in 1972 to avoid political persecution under Marcos and studied in the US, became a yoga master, and a missionary in the poor communities of Africa. She returned to the country in 1986 and was appointed as acting Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2016 until May 2017. In 2017, she received the Seacology Prize, an award given to people who show exceptional achievement in preserving island environments and culture.
Since her return to the country, whether inside or outside the government, she initiated a lot of environmental causes such as the cleanup of the Pasig River and La Mesa Watershed, campaigned against mining, conducted talks with indigenous groups, and shut down illegal fish pens, among others. She was able to ban open-pit mines and shut down mining companies.
“I don’t like fighting but the fact is there are much better choices that can be done with respect to the utilization of our natural resources. Wherever there is mining, the poverty level is higher than the national averages. Now we are creating inclusive green models, where community members create sustainable goods and services for the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems, which are, I think, what the direction this country should have,” she says.
One of her projects also is I LOVE (Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies), to help poor Filipinos by building green businesses in the grassroots level.
As an individual, Gina is committed to living green in order to protect the environment.
“La Mesa Watershed was my first environment project. In my house, I minimize wastage. I don’t throw out used bottles, etc. for future use. I have a compartment where I put containers of creams and supplements. It has proven to be very practical and useful. My big thing right now is Quest for Love. It’s the quest for change agents and it is being done in collaboration with seven government agencies: Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, TESDA, Department of Public Works and High, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of National Defense. With hope, Department of Agriculture will come in line soon. We work together in the paradigm of area development—for the NGO, PO, and social enterprises,” she says.
Now, Gina currently hosts her own show G Diaries that advocates eco-tourism on ABS-CBN. It showcases her travels across the country to highlight our rich nature. Through the show, she is able to call for and educate viewers about environmental protection.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface of what the country can offer. We keep on discovering gems. Currently, we are intensely involved with Kinatarcan in Cebu, a beautiful island with white sand beaches, sea weed, and cliffs. But the people there are really poor!” says Gina.
Its second season focuses on the local communities and preserving their natural resources. With her “G Squad,” they will hop from one community at a time to show their daily lives. Members of the G Squad are Elmo Magalona, Janella Salvador, Maris Racal, Inigo Pascual, Gretchen Ho, Loisa Andalio, Kristel Fulgar, Antoinette Taus, Young JV, Joao Constancia, Russel Reyes, Niel Murillo, Ford Valencia, and Tristan Ramirez.
“The environment is what God has given this immensely blessed country. If we take care of it, nurture it such that people benefit—we will have the country that our hearts desire, and the country we want to bequeath to the future generation,” she ends.