Greenpeace Philippines launched its volunteer group in Iloilo City, the international organization’s first official local group outside of Metro Manila during the city’s Paraw Regatta Festival held last week.
The group was established as part of Greenpeace’s “CoLEAD (Community Leadership for Environment and Active Democracy) your Cities” Project, and is mainly composed of youth leaders from different communities close to and within Iloilo City. Greenpeace said the idea to join and support the festivities — which was coming out of a pandemic-induced hiatus — came from the volunteers themselves, who also set up and staffed the Greenpeace booths during the event. Their participation was intended to inspire and influence Iloilo residents and decision makers to consider greening the event.
“Having the Greenpeace Iloilo Local Group would give us the support we need and motivation to lobby the government for more systemic changes in our city,” said local group leader Jarrah Brillantes. “With Greenpeace now in Iloilo, we are looking forward to working with different organizations, with the government, and maybe later on with academia to ensure that environmental efforts toward livable and lovable cities will really make an impact in our city policies and practices.”
The booths had water refilling stations where the festival goers can fill up their reusable water containers, and lessen the amount of single-use plastic cups and bottles during the festival. Locals and tourists also participated in booth activities such as ranking how livable and lovable Iloilo City is and signed their pledges on how they can contribute to make better cities. Among those who visited the booth and wrote their pledges were Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. and Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas.
Greenpeace commissioned local artists from Himbon Contemporary Ilonggo Artists Group to make the medals and trophies for some of the activities during the weeklong festival. The same group of artists painted the sails of three paraw boats using eco-friendly water-based paints, with designs highlighting Greenpeace’s campaigns on climate justice, better cities, and a plastic-free future. Moreover, Greenpeace partnered with local fisherfolks to operate the paraw boats and to hear stories about social and environmental issues affecting them.
“Greenpeace will definitely be more present in Iloilo City as we build and strengthen partnerships with local government units, community groups, youth advocates, MSMEs, and urban champions,” Mallari said. “We intend to create a space for Ilonggos where they can create community-led solutions, enabling them to co-lead their cities toward climate and urban justice.”
“Having a model city, with an active citizenry like Iloilo to spearhead our campaign for better cities, is an inspiring new chapter for the Philippine office and we look forward to new possibilities in this expansion. Greenpeace Philippines will be pursuing more opportunities as we continue to sow seeds of hope. We want to co-power and collaborate with communities toward a better future,” Mallari concluded.