by Brontë Lacsamana 

College student councils and organizations aired environmental concerns ranging from the lack of trash cans in Palma Hall to climate change during the General Assembly of Environmental Advocates (GAEA) held Sept. 28 in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Vinzons Hall.

Led by the University Student Council’s (USC) Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC), this academic year’s first GAEA served to establish the points of unity among colleges and orgs that may be brought up by the student body in future GAEAs.

Besides problems within the campus such as the excessive cat population in the College of Architecture and falling mangoes endangering passersby in the College of Home Economics, large-scale environmental issues such as climate change, irresponsible mining and improper waste management also drove the discussion on environmental concerns.

The one solution repeatedly brought up during the assembly was awareness and information of the public, which then leads to action.

“Many orgs have informative pubmats posted on their respective Facebook pages to spread awareness, but it’s also important to go to elementary schools and educate the kids there about environmental issues,” said Juanito Gregorio of the UP Marine Biological Society (MBS). “Mas madaling i-mold ang perspectives and habits ng tao habang bata pa.”

Other common points of action among the different colleges and organizations are the improvement of the waste segregation and disposal system of recycle papers, plastic bottles, and other non-biodegradables, and participation in cleanups after big UP events.

Many other projects were named, such as forums, talks, publicity materials, and tree-planting activities.

Organizations also presented plans to address environmental issues within and outside of the campus.

Agham Youth, for one, expressed their will to continue initiating environmental investigative missions to various mining and power plants across the country.

Meanwhile, the UP Marine Science Society, established only a year ago, presented their new adopt-a-fishing-community project.

The College of Science (CS) Student Council was also able to strike an agreement with the UP administration to have the biodegradable wastes from CS be delivered to the UP compost bin in the CS complex to be used for fertilization.

“The GAEA is a union of organizations and individuals that aims to form coherent and well-informed stances regarding the environment,” said ECC Head and CS Representative to the USC Jarms Magalang. “Which is why it’s important we listen to each individual’s advocacy.”

He also enumerated the upcoming environment-related events this November, including the typhoon Yolanda commemoration on Nov. 8 and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ climate change consciousness week from Nov. 19 to 25.

The next GAEA will be in two to three weeks and will focus on adding environmental sustainability concerns to the recently-concluded student agenda from the Diliman Student Summit.


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