2nd Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan salutes deceased envi heroes
The alternative awards event Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (GBK) is granting the late ethnobotanist Leonardo Co, deceased indigenous people(IP) leader Tomas Ito, and slain broadcaster Gerardo Ortega, posthumous awards for their contribution to the advancement of people’s rights and environmental causes.
The GBK Awards Ceremony will be held on December 7, 2011 at the Little Theater, Miriam College, Katipunan, Quezon City. The GBK awards will be supplemented by a three-day discussion series featuring the GBK awardees on December 7, 8, and 10, 2011 in UP Diliman, PUP Sta. Mesa and Ateneo de Manila University, respectively.
An initiative of the non-government organization Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), GBK recognizes ordinary individuals and organizations that have made a mark in countrywide efforts to defend the environment, lives, and rights of the people. This is the second GBK to date, following its launch in 2009.
All three awardees were noted for their devotion to their chosen causes, at the expense of comfort and even their own lives.
“Amid these threats, fellow Filipinos have offered their talents, efforts, time, and even their lives to defend the environment, the rights of the people and our national patrimony from destruction and plunder. Through their examples of collective action, patience and valor, these heroes and heroines serve as an inspiration for the current and future generations,” said CEC Executive Director Frances
Co was one of the country’s finest ethnobotanists, whose work spanned the naming and classification of plants used for traditional herbal medicines, to documenting the remains of the nation’s threatened biodiversity. While collecting specimens of endangered tree species in Kananga, Leyte, Co and his two companions Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo were killed by suspected military elements on November 15, 2010.
Meanwhile, Ortega was murdered on January 24, 2011 after wrapping up an episode of his radio program that aired criticisms against local politicians and anti-community projects. A wildlife doctor, ‘Doc Gerry’ Ortega was popular for his anti-mining and pro-community advocacy in Palawan.
Representing the IPs was a daunting task that Ito, called by many as Datu Birang, performed with vigor until his death in February 2, 2010. He spent his life fighting for the rights of IPs despite threats to his life.
The GBK 2011 is organized in cooperation with civil society organizations Agham- Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Haribon Foundation, Ecowaste Coalition, Foundation for the Philippine Environment, Central Visayas Fisheries Development Inc., Panalipdan Mindanao, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Special Concerns Office (DENR-SCO).