Misis Cynthia Villar: Environmental issues are finally getting long-deserved attention

On Earth Day, former Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar said she is glad that the environment is now getting all the attention as she calls on more people to get actively involved in supporting and fighting for environmental causes.

“It is long delayed actually, but it is good that more and more people are becoming more aware and actively involved in environmental issues. Everyone’s help counts. This is a universal issue and human concern that transcends political leanings or even personal interests. We should all be in this together because this is the only Earth we got,” said Villar, managing director of Villar Foundation, which has numerous environment-related programs and projects.

On its 21st year, the Villar Foundation’s first project was tree-planting to alleviate the effects of climate change and to date, it has planted nearly a million trees. In 2002, it launched the Sagip Ilog program or the Las Piñas river rehabilitation program with the goal of cleaning up the river to address two major concerns:  the worsening flood problem in Las Piñas and to allow aquatic life to thrive anew.

To make those environmental projects more sustainable, Villar incorporated a livelihood component. “Most environment-related projects fail because the people involved are not committed enough and community involvement and commitment are critical factors in ensuring the success of any environmental rehabilitation and conservation program. There should be something in it for them,” she cited.

Thus, the birth of Villar’s green social enterprises or livelihood projects out of wastes and garbage such as water hyacinths and coconut husks from her river rehabilitation program.  Villar Foundation’s water hyacinth basket weaving enterprise, coconet weaving enterprise, organic fertilizer making enterprise, handloom blanket weaving enterprise, citronella oil-making enterprise, among others have benefited more than 500 families in Las Piñas.

The livelihood projects have also been duplicated in 179 municipalities and cities all over the country. “We have built pilot centers nationwide. So far, we have only covered a little over 10 percent of the 1,600 towns and cities in the Philippines. My goal is to have one livelihood project in each one of them,” said Villar.

Villar’s other environmental advocacy is her stance against the planned 635.14-hectare Manila Bay reclamation project that will affect the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), the most recent addition on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. She filed a petition for Writ of Kalikasan on March 16 against the said project, which the Supreme Court granted on April 10 last year. The writ of kalikasan was issued but not a temporary environmental protection order or TEPO—without a TEPO, the contractor can still proceed with the projects. The court decision on this is yet to be released, but the hearings at the Court of Appeals were finished.

“I am concerned about the catastrophic effects that the proposed Manila Bay reclamation project will bring about—including the damage to the bird sanctuary as well as to the mangrove forest and marine habitat. The worst of which, is that it will cause severe flooding in 37 barangays in Bacoor, 11 in Paranaque and 17 in Las Piñas. Floods with a depth of as much as 5.12 meters or equivalent to a two-storey high building,” cited Villar.

LPPCHEA serves as a sanctuary to migratory bird species from as far as Siberia. According to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, Metro Manila has 150 species of birds, 72 of which are found at LPPCHEA. It is the only bird sanctuary located in an urban setting, thus it is considered as the ‘last bastion’. Because of its biodiversity, LPPCHEA was declared as a critical habitat in 2007 by Proclamation No. 1412.

According to Villar, environmental problems need both legislative support and practical solutions. As a congresswoman for 10 years, she has authored and pushed for the passage of environmental bills also. And if and when elected as senator, environment is still among her key legislative agenda.
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  1. Galing naman. Kudos to all Villar Foundation heads and staffs especially Senator Cynthia Villar and Senator Manny Villar. Sana makarating sa Catanduanes ang mga ginagawa ninyong lahat.

  2. dinadayo tayo ng turista galing ibang bansa pati turistang ibon na galing pa palang siberia

  3. rule to conservation and preservation: no to reclamation

  4. kung may "ONE TOWN ONE PRODUCT" parang yung gusto ipatupag ni mrs. cynthia ay ÖNE TOWN ONE LIVELIHOOD PROJECT"

  5. Ellaine T********aMay 14, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    Masasabi talagang isang totoong ENVIRONMENTALIST si Mrs. Cynthia Villar

  6. Bernadeth Marie CortezJune 21, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    itong project na siguro ng villar ay solusyon na ng pagbawas ng unemployment rate ng philippines. sana umunlad na ang ekonomiya ng philippines. ipagpatuloy niyo pa po mr and mrs villar.