Metro Pacific Investments Foundation. Inc. (MPIF) continues to enrich its fifteen year-old environmental flagship program, Shore It Up! (SIU), by expanding its blue footprint to conserve and protect more wetlands of national importance.
The corporate social responsibility arm of the country’s leading infrastructure investments company Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) is progressing its environmental stewardship, through its continued support of protecting the 97,030 hectares covering the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, as well as the Municipality of Del Carmen, Siargao. MPIF is also working on a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources in enhancing the mangrove-pivoted initiatives in the Las Piñas – Parañaque Wetland Park (LPPWP, formerly LPPCHEA).
As the figurehead foundation for marine and coastal biodiversity of the Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) Group of Companies, MPIF has made it an imperative to forge partnerships that safeguard the Philippines’ natural resources for future generations.
“Our archipelagic country is rife with world-renowned hubs of biodiversity and requires a strong support system from the private sector when it comes to preservation and conservation,” says MPIF President Melody del Rosario. “No solitary entity can undertake that responsibility and we at MPIF want to ensure that we play our part in futureproofing what we have and help in mitigating climate change through the work that we do.”
SIU’s Blue Footprint
SIU’s major initiatives are not singularly focused on alleviating environmental impacts to coastal communities. They also foster the involvement of the local community by providing livelihood opportunities, whether supplementary to or resulting from its programs, impacting the socioeconomic aspect as well.
Since 2013, MPIF maintained a mutually beneficial partnership with the municipality of Del Carmen in Siargao Island, through establishing a Mangrove Protection and Information Center. Del Carmen is home to a contiguous 4,000-hectare mangrove forest – the second biggest of its kind in the Philippines after Palawan.
MPIF’s intervention through the Mangrove Center has resulted in 0% mangrove cutting since its inauguration. 10 Mangrove Eco-guides are directly employed across all three sites, including Alaminos, Pangasinan and Cordova, Cebu. These centers collectively protect over 5,200 hectares of mangroves, becoming additional ecotourism hubs in their cities that spawn a myriad of tourism-related businesses and activities that employ locals.
Del Carmen developed a full-fledged community-based ecotourism program that generated 1,000 direct employments, more than 10 homestays, 20 transport services, 20 restaurants, 1 operational mall, 146 boat tour operators, and a poverty reduction of 29% as of 2019 data.
During the 2023 World Wetlands Day last February 2, the Philippine government declared the Municipality of Del Carmen’s mangrove forest as a wetland of international importance, hopefully setting the stage for its formal inclusion into the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. If accepted, it will be the ninth Philippine wetland to be listed under the international treaty.
As of 2022, MPIF has committed to support the conservation of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and World Heritage Site (TRNP) for four years. TRNP was named a Ramsar site – a wetland site of international importance – by the Ramsar Convention or “The Convention on Wetlands”, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. The Convention provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
MPIF’s intervention reinforced TRNP’s Biodiversity and Habitat Protection, Research, Monitoring, and Restoration program by providing the necessary funding to mobilize ecosystem research, monitoring, and enforcement.
Expanding SIU’s Impact
In partnership with the Office of Sen. Cynthia Villar, MPIF is in the early stages of integrating SIU in the current mangrove-centric efforts in LPPWP, a coastal wetland in Manila Bay situated within the metropolis of Manila.
A Ramsar site since 2013, LPPWP was designated as a Critical Habitat for the survival of threatened, restricted-range, and congregatory species in 2007. At least 5,000 individuals of migratory and resident birds have been recorded at the site, including about 47 migratory species. Lined up with SIU’s goal to conserve the country’s natural resources, MPIF and the LPPWP Protected Area Management Board (LPPWP PAMB) are planning to establish a mangrove nursery in the area.
The mangrove propagules are earmarked for replacement planting inside the protected area and may likewise be distributed to other planting areas within the Manila Bay. The partnership aims to replicate the positive impact generated in the three existing Mangrove Centers.
With SIU’s blue footprint reaching more nationally important wetlands, MPIF intends to continue its journey of rescuing, restoring, and reviving the Philippine biodiversity landscape by institutionalizing its initiatives with more partner sites in the future.
Shore It Up!’s commitment to the protection and conservation of wetlands of international importance is aligned with Gabay Kalikasan, one of the MVP Group’s Gabay Advocacies for a Sustainable Philippines. It is also in line with MPIC’s efforts to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG 14 Life Below Water, 15 Life on Land, and 17 Partnerships for the Goals.
This partnership bolsters MPIF’s role alongside MPIC, as the largest catalyst for a Sustainable Philippines, aimed to improve the lives in the country through providing essential services and mobilizing advocacies that uplift the quality of life of all Filipinos.