The Philippines, located in the tropics, has its share of typhoons yearly. When a low pressure begins in the warm Pacific Ocean, our country could be its next possible route. We are not exempted; in fact, we have learned lessons from the devastation Sendong (Typhoon Washi) has left our silent and booming city last December 2014.
Sendong, an Unforgettable Experience
I can still remember the night when Sendong struck the City of Golden Friendship, it was quite a struggle, rushing brown-muddy water came in our house so fast that we have to evacuate the soonest. That night, the status in the society did not matter. It was the night where survival was vital. I tell you, there are still a lot of stories uncountable and unpublished that will crush your heart. One thing is sure – we learned the lesson and we don’t want another Sendong or any catastrophe to happen again.
VEST or Valuing Ecosystem Services Together is a social marketing movement of Xavier University to push communities for a sustainable management of forest resources in Northern Mindanao.
Mt Kalatungan, the sixth highest mountain and a protected area in the Philippines is the primary area of the project. VEST aims to rehabilitate the 800+ hectares in 5 years. Remember that the mountains are connected to the downstream and if we don’t take care of our mountains – the effect will be damaging – more than of Sendong and last year’s Yolanda. We don’t want to be the catch basin again.
Incentives given to the Farmers and Landowners
VEST uses PES (Payment for ecosystem services) as a platform to sustain the mission. PES is an incentives program offered to the people of MILALITTRA or the Miarayon-Lapok-Lirongan-Tinaytayan Tribal Association in exchange of managing the land for ecological services. With this, it will help nurture, protect, and conserve resources upstream.
Early November 2014, VEST was launched. WOWCDO.com is a big fan of helping causes and we are so humbled to be invited to one of the VEST weeklong activities. We thought of this as another brand launching but it was more of it. We attended the culminating program which packages the songs written and sang by student volunteers. Dulaang Atenista also graced the event by doing an acting game participated by the audience.
How can you help VEST?
To donate and support the VEST cause, you may contact the McKeough Marine Center Extension Office at the Science Center Room 104 of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. By phone, give them a ring at 858-3116 local 3115 or 3104. You may also visit the Facebook page of VEST which is facebook.com/vestogether. Tweet VEST at @vestogether using the hashtags: #inVESTinNature and #VESTfriendofNature. VEST will also be going to schools and communities to spread awareness. Make sure to follow their social media accounts.
We all have a part. Be a #VESTfriendofNature now!