Jose Rizal himself has said that the hope of having a prosperous country lies in the hands of its youth. “Kabataan ang Pag-asa ng Bayan,” he says is one of the quotes that we would hear the most from our teachers. It is in the vision of the Department of Education (DepEd) to develop “Filipinos who passionately love their country, and whose values and competencies enable them to realize their full potential” — our country has a constantly surging chance of thriving, and all these can happen with the illuminated path that our youth helps to light.
As the video rolls in Earth Day Jam’s Livestream, we see Jerson Cabunilas Jr. gazing into the waters of his beloved home, Carcar City, and we come to see the youth that Rizal himself spoke of. In this student leader, we see a future of hope as he utilizes his potential to contribute to building his community, and in turn, the nation.
Scientists and researchers have consistently warned us about the effects of taking advantage of our environment. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” Jerson says as he quoted Mahatma Gandhi.
And among the singing voices and those that cry for change on Earth Day Jam 2021, Jerson stood as a proud student leader and an advocate for the environment, addressing different climate issues on the livestream.
“I’ve always believed that we are nothing without the environment. That is why I have always wanted to be part of a movement with environmental initiatives that help in protecting and conserving our planet,” says the 17-year-old student of Ocana National High School.
As a proud student leader with six years of experience, Jerson and his fellow members of the supreme student government started an initiative back in September 2019 within their school called “Basura Mo, I-Deposit Mo Program,” where he and his fellow students would line up to throw their trash at an assigned disposal area at 4:30.p.m. every day before leaving the premises of Ocana National High School. This initiative has not only helped maintain a clean environment but has also instilled a sense of responsibility within the students of their school.
“Our micro efforts will have macro effects,” Jerson says, quoting Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco. Although some actions like picking up litter and disposing of trash properly may seem too small to make a significant change, the collective effort that the people put into their endeavors that help the environment may inevitably lead to bigger results than we’d all expect.
Jerson believes that with his position as a student leader, he can do more for the environment. As a result of this, he conducted a greening program that involved a coastal clean-up in Barangay Tuyom, and a tree-planting program along with other student leaders in Carcar, Cebu Province back in December of 2020. During this program, Barangay Calidngan gained 100 more trees in their community, thanks to the efforts that the organization has put into creating a healthier environment.
“The land we live in, the plants we see, the water we drink, the sunlight that brightens up our day, the forest, the rivers, and other natural things come within the environment,” he said. “The existence of our life depends on it, which maintains nature’s balance.”
Our country’s youth is what can make us greater. Although the light of our path to success may flicker throughout the years, with the light of their burning passion, our young ones may lead us back to not only the right path but towards the brighter one. And it’s safe to say and clear to us all that Jerson Cabunilas Jr.’s light is one of the many that shine the brightest.
This article was written and prepared by Eunice Christinellie P. Pineda (Student-Journalist), and Rowela Basa (School Paper Adviser) from Information And Communication Technology High School, Division of San Fernando City, who are graduates of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.