WWF-Philippines marks 25 years as a ‘Force For Nature’

WWF-Philippines celebrated its 25th year this month by looking back at its journey, milestones and challenges in the past quarter of a century.

A Partners’ Night with the theme “Force For Nature” held at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on November 29, honored long-time employees, community partners and private donors, as well as leaders in conservation.

WWF-Philippines recognized conservation champions outside of the organization whose contributions made a significant impact in promoting and scaling WWF’s advocacy of protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainability.

The Force of Nature Award recipients were marine biology professor and Br. Alfred Shields Ocean Research Center founding director Dr. Wilfredo Licuanan, Zamboanga del Sur-based social enterprise AgriBata founder Janice Paglinawan and microbial oceanographer and associate professor Dr. Deo Onda.

Special awards were given to WWF-Philippines National Youth Council (NYC), long-time ambassador Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski and Chef Reggie Aspiras for their dedication to the organization.

The NYC is WWF’s youth arm that has led successful campaigns such as the Earth Hour Camp and the Youth Environment Summit for Oceans. Cojuangco-Jaworski was the first female Earth Hour Ambassador in the Philippines, while Chef Reggie helped secure additional livelihood for partner tuna fishing communities in Lagonoy Gulf and Mindoro Strait.

WWF-Philippines also acknowledged partners in the private sector for supporting its projects throughout the years. The corporate awardees included GCash, BPI and BPI Foundation, Globe, Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Foundation, HSBC and NEO.

Former DOE Secretary, WWF-Chairman Vince Perez, one of the founders of WWF-Philippines in 1996, was honored for his leadership and significant contributions to WWF’s advocacy on biodiversity protection and climate change.

By leading Asia’s first debt-for-nature swap in 1996, Mr. Perez helped create the El Nido Marine Sanctuary, the St. Paul Underground River National Park, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Management Office, and other protected areas in the country.

A special commemorative marker was dedicated to Mr. Perez in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Ranger Station. Atty. Ana Melissa Lichaytoo was also awarded for her contribution, and dedicated service as the organization’s Corporate Secretary since it was founded in 1996.

Leading up to Partners’ Night, WWF-Philippines also prepared a commemorative Impact Report which chronicles its 25-year journey from the perspectives of WWF members, leaders, and conservation workers who have witnessed the impact of the organization throughout the years. It outlines the various narratives and change stories as told by advocates and individuals who are all part of the work and advocacy on conservation. It talks about the collective accomplishments of conservation work in the Philippines and the key lessons learned which may serve to inspire other organizations and other countries, in pursuit of a future where nature and humans thrive.

The night closed with the reciting of a pledge to nature or the Panata sa Kalikasan and Kinabukasan to seal WWF-Philippines’ commitment to conservation in the years to come.