Written by Hannah Manalo

Showcasing the collaborative nature of safeguarding Filipino lives, ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI) brings together stakeholders for a ceremonial turnover of the La Mesa Ecopark and La Mesa Nature Reserve to its next stewards.

Erlinda O. Daquigan, DBA, the Assistant Regional Director for Management Services of the Department of Energy and Natural Resource in the National Capital Region (DENR-NCR), and Leonor C. Cleofas, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator shared messages of solidarity.

MWSS concessionaires, represented by Atty. Roel Espiritu, Senior Vice President of the Division Head Quality Sustainability and Resiliency Division of Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (MWSI) and Atty. Kaye Celera, Group Director of Enterprise Regulatory Affairs of Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWCI), also embraced their role in this transition by joining the symbolic handover of the Ecopark and Nature Reserve’s key employees.

With the conclusion of almost 24 years of environmental stewardship at La Mesa by the ABS-CBN Foundation, attendees recognized this turnover as a natural transition in development projects.

“The love for nature has always been the foremost reason why the ABS-CBN Foundation is here at the La Mesa Nature Reserve and La Mesa Ecopark. The underlying belief in the Foundation is that everything we do is for the greater good. This has been a labor of love,” expressed Roberta Lopez-Feliciano, ABS-CBN Foundation Managing Director.

AFI has been at the forefront of La Mesa watershed’s rehabilitation by implementing innovative strategies to increase forest cover, promoting biodiversity, and inspiring personal advocacy among visitors. Strategic partnerships with various duty-bearers in society sit at the core of such achievements. From government agencies to private entities, from large groups to curious individuals, significant strides to protect the last remaining forest of its size in Metro Manila were made together.

With the transition of La Mesa Ecopark to MWSS and the local government of Quezon City (QC LGU) and La Mesa Nature Reserve to MWSS and its concessionaires, there is renewed optimism for consolidated efforts toward water security in the metro. Formally, these efforts align with the Integrated Watershed Management Roadmap for Angat, Ipo, and La Mesa (IWMRAIL), as spearheaded by the MWSS, which ensures the protection and preservation of the three watersheds.

“In the same manner that farmers change the crops every season to revitalize the soil and rejuvenate its nutrients, we view the handover as an opportunity to energize our passion in sustaining the La Mesa watershed. We are committed to protecting the watershed, in protecting, nurturing, and improving the very land where water flows,” assured MWSS Administrator Leonor C. Cleofas.

More than two decades of reforestation has made apparent the need to address environmental issues on multiple fronts if we are to create holistic interventions for conservation. AFI’s Bantay Kalikasan will refocus its efforts toward communities with critical marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Bantay Kalikasan’s 25-year legacy is not coming to an end. Rather, it is welcoming a transformation.

Environmental stewardship cannot be done alone. It is our hope that this transition ignites a yearning for change among more champions beyond even the stakeholders in attendance. AFI will continue to uphold what Gina Lopez fervently believed in from the start: each one has a stake in environmental conservation, because every Filipino is an Earth Warrior.