At a glance: Philippines

A young environmentalist encourages positive change in the Philippines

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Philippines/2007/Bondoc
Maia Azores, 14, of the Philippines participated in the 2007 BioVision Children’s Forum in Lyon, France.

By Vincent Henson

SAN PABLO CITY, Philippines, 24 April 2007 – Fourteen-year-old Maia Azores loves to dance and play sports just like any other teenager, but what makes her stand out from other young Filipinos is her passion for environmental activism.
 
Maia is Vice-President of Friends of Seven Lakes Foundation (FSLF) Youth, an environment-focused children’s organization that promotes conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the seven interconnected crater lakes of San Pablo City.

Together with her friends, Maia also conducts environmental awareness seminars in schools, tree-planting projects, lake clean-up drives, eco-camps for young people and recycling campaigns. In one recent project, she and other members of FSLF Youth adopted a 20-square-metre stretch along the lakeshore in their home province and successfully set up a children’s park.

Maia stresses that children have a role to play. “If there is a problem you should try to do something about it and not just wait for something to happen,” she says.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Philippines/2007/Bondoc
Maia Azores tends to the mini-garden she and her friends have set up. They have converted the area to a children’s park.

Passion for nature

Maia picked up her parents’ passion for nature and set out to save the environment.

“I did a survey in school on what young people thought our existing environmental problems are. Water and air pollution, garbage problems, global warming and lack of awareness about environmental issues topped the survey,” she says.
 
Maia participated in the UNICEF-BioVision Children’s Forum from 6 to 10 March 2007 in Lyon, France. There, she and nine other children from developing countries met with Nobel laureates, prominent scientists, business people, government leaders and civil society representatives, who were themselves attending the 11-14 March BioVision Life Sciences Forum. 

At both events, participants addressed issues of health, nutrition, agriculture and environment that face the world today. The Children’s Forum participants prepared a Call to Action challenging their leaders to work with young people toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Optimistic about the future

Upon her return to the Philippines, Maia hit the ground running, meeting with national leaders at the Philippine Water Summit to gain their support. She is now working on a new project that involves testing the water quality of the lakes.

“If we push through with our water testing, we will be able to show how much percent of E. coli and other bad stuff there is in our lakes,” she explains. “Maybe we could get a grant or support from our government for a cleanup?”
 
Despite the alarming trend of environmental degradation worldwide, Maia remains optimistic about the future.

“I hope that one day I can still see my children and grandchildren taking a shower and drinking fresh, clean water,” she says. “I still have hope that if we all work together and do our part we will be able to solve our problems and accomplish our goals.”


 

 

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