By: Rio Katipunan, MSESDD
Breathe in. Breathe out. Right now, I am no one but merely a vessel – a vessel of hope - and nothing more.
I kept telling myself those lines during that eventful day. That’s what I did to keep my calm during the DENR Anniversary competition - Millennials ng Kalikasan which was held last July 4th 2018.
It all started with a phone call. Our Division’s Secretary, called my attention; she said she had something to say to me, but first, she had to make a phone call to the Admin. I was 5 feet away from her when I heard her say, - “Alam ko na kung sino ang ilalaban natin sa Millenials ng Kalikasan – si Mr. Katipunan. And without a doubt, I already knew that I’ll be entering something that would entirely change the course of my life.
Unbeknownst to me that time, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), had joined a competition together with other Offices and Agencies under the DENR where each Office will be given an opportunity to showcase the environmental the issues and concerns of their respective Office. And I was chosen to be MGB’s official candidate.
Millenials ng Kalikasan 2018 - That was the name of the pageant. Participants of the said competition are Millenials or those individuals born after the year 1980 and 1996 and is a cohort generally marked by their increased consumption and familiarity of social media and digital telecommunications .
The competition had three (3) criteria for judging, first was the Hugot ng Kalikasan, the second was the Kalikasan Attire, the third and last, was the Kalikasan Video Presentation.
The Hugot ng Kalikasan was a spoken word poetry recited live in front of an audience about each respective Office’s issues and concerns. Akin to Juan Miguel Severo’s recitation of his verses, the Hugot ng Kalikasan was to be recited with nothing less than an ode with trembling emotions buried deep within the bounds of one’s own temperament and consciousness. The reason for its nature may be drawn back to the Filipino Millennial term – hugot – or to lash out something profoundly repressed so as to make appease with one’s own self inhibited emotions.
The Kalikasan Attire was about showcasing variations in views of Kalikasan with a lens indicative of each respective Office’s line of work. Its creation must revolve around a central theme to be chosen by the Office that wholly represents its desires and hopes. And on top of that, at least 75% of the materials to be used in the attire must be recycled items.
Lastly, the Kalikasan Video Presentation was an arrangement with the purpose to call for action and aim for sparking revolution within our current societal status. To create a paradigm shift so much so that it will shake the current understandings of the viewer on different subjects regarding nature. Together with the Hugot ng Kalikasan, the Kalikasan Video Presentation is simultaneously shown to the audience to complement the poem’s message.
It was a month long preparation before the grandiose event. I, together with my officemates at the Mine Safety, Environment, and Social Development Division (MSESDD), partook in the groundworks. My office mates even blocked their time after office hours just to set everything in place for the big event. This subsequently led to the conception of Rio’s Time – a period dedicated solely in preparing for the spoken word, costume, and video presentation.
Countless hours were spent rehearsing the spoken word; multiple shots and camera angles were prepared for the video presentation. In daylight, the Division’s Conference Room was a place to discuss the Division’s targets and goals; however, by night time, it became our costume set and rehearsal room. During the course of the night, a tempest of recycled materials would be found in the Office.
I principally wrote the spoken word, together with Engr. Ivy Kimberly Batecan, Engr. Celeste Aquino, Engr. Christine Battung, and Roan Mercado (the Division’s OJT) as co-editors. Engr. Robert Glicer M. Domingo worked as my acting and voice coach. While Mr. Gerold Allen Argonso, Forester Teodorico L. Marquez, Jr. and Engr. Jose V. Desucatan facilitated greatly in the Kalikasan Attire. And Angel Mateo (daughter of Engr. Marcial H. Mateo) largely contributed in the Kalikasan Video Presentation. Of course, the presence of our mother, and father - like figures - Ms. Emmalyn T. Banaag and Engr. Rodolfo L. Velasco, Jr. - functioned as our guide throughout this trying time. Also, the MGB through the Admin acted greatly in this endeavor by funding the materials that we needed. And of course, all of these wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of Forester Teodorico Marquez.
I can only say so much to express my gratitude and thanks to all the people who have supported me throughout this arduous journey, that saying they’re simply helping out would be an understatement of the Bureau’s backing. And indeed, it was a journey, worthy of recognition of all the people who served as the wind beneath my wings. I can never be more grateful for the Bureau’s provision.
All of these were done to groom me, to prepare me, to be the Bureau’s messenger and bearer of her truth. To carry and share her message to the world.
With everyone’s combined efforts, we were able to craft a poem, attire, and video presentation cognizant of the Bureau’s aims and objectives.
Then came the 4th of July, the day has arrived for me to deliver my message.
It started with a cold early morning. It was 6:00 AM at the DENR covered court, and one can still feel the chilling winds of the recent dawn and see the morning dew. The sun was still rising up. I came in the office, prepared intimately, and waited.
I breathed in, then breathed out in the backstage. Practicing in the last minutes, I stood there, waiting and thinking of the endless possibilities that could happen that day. When the production music started playing, and when the crowd began shouting and cheering, I knew my cue was up – I have arrived at my destination, and it’s time to deliver my message.
And the rest, as they commonly say, was history.
If I were to be asked on how the experience was, I’ll say that overall, it was challenging. It was elating, but at the same time nerve wracking. Throughout the event, I can’t feel my limbs fully, I was sweating profusely all over my body due to the costume, and I kept on practicing my lines.
But along this lengthy excursion and among other things, I came to realize this – that actions are truly much more stronger than words; that although pageants are a great avenue to express one’s advocacies, it should be associated with tangible forms of action at the ground level towards the accomplishment of those endeavors. The pageant was only the start. This eventual war of mine, would be the beginning of an unending battle between reconciling mining activities and the environment.
Mining, among other things, has an essential role in the contemporary world. Everything must come from something, right? And that something could not come from nothing or magically appear instantly somewhere.
It is through mining that we have the raw materials for most of the objects that we use right now (e.g. concrete and aggregates, smartphones and telecommunications devices, kitchenware, medicines, cosmetics, etc). And, undeniably, our daily consumption or use of these has led us to take them for granted. Indeed without mining, we would be still be living in the conditions similar to cave men.
However, ironically, the mining industry has provided so much for the world, and yet it faces the antipathy of its beneficiaries. Without contemplating on the origins and how the things that we use came into being, most of us end up cementing our blind belief that we can survive without mining.
The reason for this animosity can be traced back to the inevitable environmental complications that mining per se entails - that mining will only bring forth the destruction of the environment and will only amass pain and suffrage to the people. This has led to the conclusion that environmental protection and safety far more outweigh the benefits that one could collect from mining.
I, myself, agree with that concept too. Any gain in mining processes should not be at the expense of the environment. That is the reason why MGB regulates and monitors the mining industry in the Philippines. There are safety nets, rules, and regulations, that limit the environmental disruption from mining activities, and that the MGB makes sure that all of these are upheld by promoting responsible mining and being effective stewards of the environment.
Breathe in. Breathe out. In this world, we’re all vessels. Couriers and bearers of our own truths. In this case, I was carrying the MGB’s promise – a promise of unwavering affection, that in spite of all tragedies and mishaps, the MGB will always stand for its unconditional love for the environment.
Photo 1 – 3. Engr. Rio Katipunan wearing the Kalikasan Attire in the DENR Millennials ng Kalikasan 2018.
 “Millennials.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 20 July 2018,
Apolinario “Rio” Katipunan is a Mining Engineer from the University of the Philippnes - Diliman. He currently works as a Science Research Specialist at the Mine Safety, Environment, and Social Development Division. He spends most of his time reading, coding, and taking photos. Sometimes, you might see him in the office goofing around with his workmates.
- Published: 09 August 2018