Monday, October 25, 2010

The Philippines SK and Barangay Elections 2010

October 25 has been declared as national non-working holiday in the Philippines due to the simulated Sanguniang Kabataan (SK) and Barangay Elections. In this small yet nation-defining event, the Filipino people practice once more their right to select who would represent the majority in the government by electing the chairman of the voices of the youth and the head of the smallest sector of the Philippine government which is the barangay.

As expected, lots of people flocked to several precincts in different barangays (villages) in the Philippines to cast their votes for the Barangay Captain, Barangay Councilors, SK Chairman and SK Councilors. I was actually one of those people who went all the way to my assigned voting precinct to cast my vote. Although it was a very small election compared to those of the municipal, provincial and national levels, I thought such expression of one's right of suffrage is another manifestation of one's great concern for 'our democracy' and so our democratic people. Barangay, although a very small sect of the entire government, plays a big role in our country's societal landscape as it is here where the people first express their individual concerns to our society. The barangay is also the most immediate way for people to connect with the government. The voices of the chairmen who will be elected in the barangay elections will soon resound in a national scale. The councilors will soon maintain order in the barangay through their resolutions and local ordinances. The elected SK officials will soon be taking care of the youth in the barangay. In reality, they're all huge parts of the national political tapestry.

This time, I am so excited for the result of the said election in our barangay and I hope that the officials who would soon be declared would stay true to their promises. As for me, whether the ones I voted for will win or not, I will remain happy and peaceful for the fact that I voted for those people whom I believe would make a difference in our small village. The others I voted for were not personally known to me as I have been away from home for years but with their background in public service as laid by some people I asked, I am quite confident that they are the most capable people that our locals could ever have. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tata Young Receives Prestigious US Environmental Protection Agency Montreal Protocol Award

The United Nations Environment Program Department of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP DTIE) celebrated the International Ozone Day and the Millennium Development Goals with Asian pop star, Tata Young, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok last night. Luckily, I was invited by a friend and was able to come for the event. Following is a press release forwarded through e-mail by the UNEP.

Bangkok, 5 October 2010 – Tata Young, Asia’s pop music sensation, was awarded this year’s Montreal Protocol Award of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for raising public awareness on the importance of protecting the ozone layer - a notable effort that contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on environmental sustainability.

The Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations who are making a difference in protecting the environment through their demonstrated commitment and extraordinary contributions, was presented to Ms. Young by Judith B. Cefkin, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission and Dr. Young-Woo Park, UNEP’s Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific during a ceremony yesterday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok.

The USEPA highlighted Ms. Young’s work with OzonAction Programme in the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). One of the singer’s first projects with OzonAction was a public service announcement (PSA) entitled “My Ozone Wish” that encourages people to stop using products that contain ozone depleting substances.
Ms. Young, who has record labels with Sony Music, also uses her concerts to inform the public about protecting the ozone layer. At the mega launch of her third album “Ready for Love” in Bangkok last year, the “My Ozone Wish” PSA was screened, and a special sticker saying “Protect yourself, protect the ozone layer” was placed on the album’s cover which later sold over 10,000 copies.

“It is an honor for me to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and I will continue to use the power of music to capture people’s hearts and encourage them to take action to protect the ozone layer and to help prevent climate change,” said Ms. Young upon receiving the award.

The Montreal Protocol, signed by 196 countries, was designed to reduce and eventually eliminate ozone-depleting substances. The phase-out of ozone-depleting substances, including hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, necessitates a long-term commitment from all developed and developing countries alike. HCFCs and some of the alternatives, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are global warming gases, and their continued production and emissions contributes to climate change. Parties to the Montreal Protocol in 2007 accelerated the HCFC phaseout with a view toward increasing climate protection. In November, Parties will consider two amendment proposals concerning HFC reduction to ensure stronger climate protection.

“We would like to thank Tata and her management team for their wonderful efforts,” said Dr. Young-Woo Park. “UNEP’s OzonAction Programme is looking forward to working with her in the future to raise public awareness on ozone layer protection and its strong linkages with climate change, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” added Dr. Park.

Tata Young’s award ceremony follows the celebration of two other special occasions, the 2010 International Ozone Day on 16 September and the launch of a new UNEP brochure entitled “Stand Up for the Ozone Layer and the Millennium Development Goals.” This pocket size booklet explains in simple language how protecting the ozone layer can also contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 target.

The MDGs are a set of eight concrete and specific development goals adopted by 189 world leaders committed to achieving by 2015 as part of the Millennium Declaration signed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000. These time-bound Goals are: 1) end extreme poverty and hunger; 2) achieve universal primary education; 3) promote gender equality and empower women; 4) reduce child mortality; 5) improve maternal health; 6) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; 7) ensure environmental sustainability and 8) develop a global partnership for development.

“The latest review of the MDG Goal 7 on environmental sustainability has found it regressing and lagging behind. The impacts of climate change directly threaten the achievement of the MDGs as they push the poor and vulnerable deeper into poverty,” said Mr. Minar Pimple, Regional Director of the UN Millennium Campaign Asia and the Pacific Regional Office. “The need to address climate change concerns, including the rapid depletion of ozone layer, is deeply intertwined with the long-term efforts to achieve the MDGs to end global poverty. Thus a climate change strategy should have the MDGs and poverty reduction at its core,” he explained.

Mr. Pimple also added that the outcome of the recent UN MDG Review Summit in New York last month attended by over 150 world leaders illustrated that push to achieve the MDGs has been accelerated through renewed global partnership.

The Ruamrudee International School students and the Kaya Green Band also performed “Fix That Hole”, a song about ozone layer protection during the ceremony. The song was written by the Kaya Green Band from the Philippines last year for the 2009 International Ozone Day Celebration.

The award ceremony was hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP DTIE) OzonAction Programme, the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), Ruamrudee International School (RIS) and the United States Embassy in Thailand.