A true visionary,and a person with such charisma that her presence is felt the moment she walks into a room, Gina Lopez is perhaps one of the most likeable personalities in Philippine media, and a cornerstone, in her own right, in the country’s movement for environmental care and awareness. On top of her notable efforts in communicating formative education through television, as well as in advocating environmental care, her work in boosting Philippine eco-tourism is much to be lauded, and something that all of us can learn from, and hopefully try to continue in her stead. It may as well be a bittersweet event that the upcoming ABS-CBN Ball 2019—done for the benefit of the Bantay Bata—is honoring ABS-CBN Foundation's former chairman.
Here, we look back at some of Gina's best projects.
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On sharing. One of the only true ways to genuinely appreciate the beauty of a country, as well as to comprehend the importance of protecting it, is to see the places in it for your self. This was, perhaps, why Gina founded G Eco Tours, a community based tourism project of ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation. Focused on select destinations that focus on appreciating the environment, culture, and in helping its local communities, this group is the first of its kind in offering such experiences that benefit both the visitor and the visited.
As said by Gina when asked about G Eco Tours: “My passion lies in getting the Philippines our of poverty, and my conviction is that the way to do it, is by nurturing the beauty that surrounds us, and doing it in such a way that benefits the community.”
On communicating. With an extensively acclaimed reputation in media, Gina found a way to marry her advocacy for promoting tourism and care for the environment, with mass media. Her program, G Diaries, on ANC and the Lifestyle Channel, was a masterful experiential treatment to showcasing the country, and her love for it. But more than the visually stimulating scenery that the program captures, we got to see Gina’s zestful personality in action, and a firsthand look into her love and passion for the country, and for its people.
On sustaining. An admirable aspect of Gina’s vision and work is that it transcends eco-tourism. It was not to merely isolate aid and attention towards a certain community or beneficiary, but to be inclusive to as much people as possible. She founded the I.L.O.V.E. Foundation (Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies) to provide a platform in connecting different organizations with one another, to develop areas in order to help vulnerable communities to sustain themselves, and to uplift their social conditions.
“Area development is nurturing, developing and protecting the strengths and potential of the area with a non-negotiable commitment to the people living there. Love and integrity—the vision is communities living in harmony, with material needs met, but aligned with the higher values of life. Heaven of earth, it is the world we want our children to have," as she once declared.
On protecting. Perhaps one of the main reasons why Gina has been regarded as the country’s champion in environmentalism and given the title “earth warrior”, was through her work in reviving compromised natural areas throughout the country, and leaving a resounding impression that environmentalism in the Philippines could be done. Some of which were her efforts in the reforestation of the 2,700 hectare La Mesa Dam Ecopark, where she led the planting of over 1 million trees around its water shed, the rehabilitation of the Pasig River along with other waterways around Manila, and her stand against mining companies in the Philippines.
“We can’t change the whole country all at once. But we can create models of success, to show similarly situated communities that eco-tourism is feasible and can provide sustainable employment over the long term. Because if we do it in one site, then people might say we just got lucky. But if we are able to succeed in many sites, then they will know that it’s not luck. It means the business really works and is sustainable.”
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Photos from the Facebook pages of Gina Lopez, G Eco Tours, G Diaries