“Yes, bata tayo, pero hindi bata lang, munting tinig natin ay maaaring magpabago sa Inang Kalikasan.” – Jamila Codera
She embarked on her journey as a youth ambassador by leading the Youth for Environment in Schools-Organization (YES-O) at Majayjay Elementary School in Majayjay, Laguna. Now, she continues to her little community despite the ongoing challenges brought by the pandemic. She steers hope to the people of her community by being at the forefront of taking simple steps to preserve the beauty of her hometown. On the Earth Day Celebration, she proudly shared this advocacy as one of the Earth Day Jam Youth Ambassadors last April 23, 2021.
Laguna, which houses the majestic Mount Banahaw, does not only serve as a tourist attraction to newcomers and Lagueños alike, it also serves as a watershed for incoming rain, thus preventing flood in areas on the mountain’s foot. Mt. Banahaw protected the Lagueños from the destructive typhoons that hit the country such as Yolanda in 2014 and Rolly in 2020. The province is also rich in natural resources such as rivers and springs with clean and clear water for daily consumption. What better gift to a town could be than clean and free water?
Jamila Codera is a Grade 6 pupil whose top priority is protecting these sources and putting forth mitigating efforts to prevent onslaught on the environment. She practiced proactive thinking, where action must be taken even before the first sign of damage shows. Her projects include banning the use of single-use plastics in her campus; constant management of material recovery facilities; Project LCD (Lunchtime Clean-up Drive), where officers monitor the cleanliness of the campus every day; and planting different varieties of trees around her school. Maintaining projects like these is no joke since they require full-time cooperation from fellow students.
Aside from her will to preserve the environment, she also took inspiration from her father, who is a barangay captain. She was able to witness the bayanihan spirit or ‘atag’ as the people in her hometown call it, as the barangay officials have overseen and guarded the Maimpis River where tourists go during the dry season.
Fueled with determination to conduct more projects, Jamila coordinated with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), along with a non-government organization to host a tree-planting program with a hundred trees ready to be planted. Unfortunately, the pandemic occurred which halted her big plans. However, the pandemic made her realize how fortunate the people in Majayjay are because of the cold breeze the trees brought to them. On resuming the game now in the pandemic, she practices home-gardening by repurposing used containers as plant pots, making emergency pillows from small-cut plastic wrappers, and proper waste segregation of different materials. These activities are a perfect pastime after a week full of work and academics, as it helps in relieving stress and help reduce waste in the environment.
The game on saving the planet does not end on Earth Day Celebration, where Jamila presented her advocacies. After all, prevention is better than cure, which is extremely difficult when it comes to our resources since destruction in nature is completely irreversible and has no cure. Before we long and cry to nature to bring its clean water and fresh air back, we should develop our game plans together and not wait for that dreadful day of loss to come, where nature whispers to us, “Game over.”
This article was written and prepared by Audrey Zazel C. Espeso (Student-Journalist) and Mark Reniel L. 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.