“Our journey has empowered us to be prime movers for climate action and environmental change,” Emerry Faith Q. Bonagua strongly conveyed as she took pride in her campus, the Santiago City National High School from the Division of Santiago City, Region II which was awarded as the Grand National Champion for the “Most Sustainable and Eco-friendly School” in the country last 2019.

Faith, a grade 12 student-leader, is one of the three student speakers to deliver their Climate Action Story during the closing ceremony of the 4th National Climate Change Conference (NCCC) last Nov. 25. With an audiovisual presentation channeling the school’s profound programs and activities, she confidently invited the youth to take part as well.

True to the theme of the 4th NCCC: “Alpas: Channeling Youth Eco-anxiety to Climate Action,” Faith shared that their eco-friendly school is not only beneficial to their mere surroundings, but to the people themselves as well, who are constantly inspired by the willingness of all the stakeholders to take action.

“It takes away the eco-anxiety that may arise from the unwanted wheedling of sustainability of our surroundings; it affords us high hopes as one day more and more individuals join hand in hand to protect our one and only earth,” said Faith, further acknowledging that because we are not alone in this fight towards climate justice, this should be somehow enough to push us and continue to do more for our planet.


One project at a time

“The incessant Clean and Green advocacy campaigns have made our school’s ecologically vibrant; it provided a conducive place for learning,” Faith said.

Among the presented successful campus projects and activities during her speech include the Project CHARM: City High Adopt-A-River Movement, ‘PaSaCHi: Patubig sa City High, and Project WAPUMO: Water Purification Model 2.0.

“We provided experiential activities like tree planting and growing, cleaning and rehabilitating water valleys, and giving of pamphlets to raise awareness on combating pollution as well as too much electrical and other energy form consumption and dependence,” she added.

Though proposing projects may initially seem overwhelming because of underlying paperwork and difficulty to maintain, one must remember their primary purpose of crafting these projects: to serve our environment. After all, once these projects have come to life, the fruits of these will bear a long-lasting impact on nature, and it will thank you for that. “With our purposes, geared towards taking care of everything in the environment, we felt that we are one with nature,” Faith said.


The leader as a frontliner

As a student-leader, Faith sees that having a sustainable and eco-friendly school is more of a responsibility than a privilege. She added: “There comes a corresponding crucial role to act, take up space and lead my fellow students in participating and supporting the school’s efforts in advocating for the environment.”

The power to act is indeed found within the students themselves, they just need to become aware of it and know what to do with it. This is where the role of student-leaders like Faith takes place. They have to persuade the student body to participate in the school’s activities and encourage them to actively participate in the climate action.

Faith emphasized her responsibility as a student-leader which is “to help mobilize efforts for the successful and effective implementation and monitoring of our school’s environmental projects.”

“Our school has provided us with opportunities to be earth keepers ourselves. It has involved and made us more accountable for our actions,” she continued. Schools must instill in the students’ minds that every choice and action they make come with a corresponding effect, and they should be held accountable for it.

Basic knowledge of the 3Rs must also be incorporated in everyday life, she added. “We became more responsible for proper waste segregation and disposal, we learned the value of reducing, reusing, and recycling with the use of eco-bags, personal use of lunchboxes, tumblers, and among others. Those changes will enlighten the way I view things.”


Safety first!

“Studying has never been more interesting and comfortable because the school has offered us safe and secured spaces with integrating disaster and risk reduction (DRR) in our curriculum and in the actual school vicinity,” she added.

The integration of DRR in the curriculum is made in the hopes that schools would develop well-constructed preparedness plans for such disasters and geared up with high-quality equipment such as rubber boats for floods, stretchers for accidents, and the like. Moreover, students must also be equipped with knowledge on what to do during these circumstances as well as basic first aid.

“With the onset of the global health crisis, unavoidable wrought of natural disasters, like typhoons, earthquakes and other related phenomena, I felt that Santiago City National High School has made us stronger, adaptable and resilient.”

These are just some of the wonders of the Santiago City National High School as a sustainable and eco-friendly school. With continuous support and unwavering determination, every school can be a sustainable school.

Through the powers of the youth, once again, it has been proven that they can absolutely help the environment. Their powerful minds, with a dash of courage and perseverance, together, make a remarkable recipe for the triumph of humanity.

“To my fellow students,” she said, “I urge you to take part in any way you can to help alleviate the status of environmental degradation. In our simple means, we can contribute towards rehabilitating our nature. We only got one earth, let us protect it for ourselves and families and for the sake of the future generations.”

Faith ended: “To all our partner industries, social entrepreneurs, the academe, civil society, and other stakeholders, let us strengthen our ties, capitalize on our resources, and mobilize our efforts to a more sustainable and resilient world.”

This article was written and prepared by Audrey Zazel Espeso (Student-Journalist) and Mark Reniel Balolo (School Paper Adviser) from Pasay City National Science High School, Division of Pasay City, who are graduates of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.