Ilocos Norte, through Governor Imee R. Marcos of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), hosts the ASEAN Environment Forum as they welcome over a hundred of international lecturers, government officials, and research and development experts held last December 4-8 at the Plaza Del Norte, Laoag City.
The forum aimed to come up with a strategic plan to address pressing issues on climate change and urban resilience among ASEAN member states.
Among the subjects discussed at the forum were tools and methodologies for climate change impacts assessments; green growth strategies focusing on renewable energy potentials and waste management programs; institutional structures, policies and programs; and management strategies for disaster risk reduction.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Jonas Leones who spoke on behalf of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu noted some of the environmental ills happening in the ASEAN region in the past ten years, citing floods, droughts, heatwaves, and rising sea levels.
With this, he posited that pursuing urban resiliency has become an urgent agenda due to rising urban population, emphasizing “Urban areas, where half of our population lives, drive global warming and consequently climate change.”
To address the issues, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos shared PGIN’s efforts in maintaining its commitment to clean and renewable energy.
“Renewables have become the essence of Ilocos Norte as we become the pollster child for wind-power in Southeast Asia as early as 2003, seeking today to produce much of our energy always in renewable, clean, alternative sources,” Governor Marcos said.
Ilocos Norte is generating more than 280 megawatts of its renewable energy resources, hence known as the renewable energy capital of Southeast Asia.
Windmills, which initially built in the coastlines of Bangui town, are now extended in the northernmost part of Ilocos Norte. Pagudpud has its own hydroelectric plant owned by the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative. Also, Burgos has 50 wind turbines, and is equipped with a solar power farm generating 7.9 megawatts.
The province has also declared an absolute ban on both black sand mining and power production from coal.
As of 2016, PGIN’s green wall reforestation project covers around 21,000 hectares across the province with over 12 million seedlings planted.
Reiterating the province’s threefold vision of creating a livable, sustainable, sustainable, and resilient home; Governor Marcos calls ASEAN to remain united in coming up with solutions to the environmental issues brought up to the forum.
“Create a livable, sustainable, and resilient home. That no matter what the climate, no matter what infliction could be upon the communities that live in them, we would remain standing, surviving, proud, and clear in our humanity and compassion,” she said.
Baroque-styled Paoay Church: a “testament” of Ilocano resilience
Meanwhile, Governor Marcos likened Ilocos Norte’s resilience with the Paoay Church, saying it is the first example in the early 17th century “of adaptive architecture that shows us that certainly there are also storm surges, any manner of landslides, flooding, and so on in this extremely cinematic landscape”
“Paoay church is our cultural gem, and a wonderful witness to humanity, creativity, and utmost resilience. This is a testament to the flexibility, creativity, and ingenuity of human race, that no matter the weather or the climate, no matter the exigencies of war and human imposed damage, in the end, we will surmount all difficulties and confront challenges with a plum and with flare,” Marcos said.
San Agustin Church, or known as Paoay Church, is an example of Baroque earthquake Architecture built and completed in 1710. The church was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003, and became one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ilocos Norte.
Governor Marcos hosted a dinner at the front lawn of Paoay Church last December 6, which was attended by ASEAN delegates, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Mr. Marciano “Jun” Paynor, DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro Jr, and Deputy Director General for Tourism and Special Events Services of the ASEAN National Organizing Council Atty. Araceli E. Villanueva. –Ma. Christian A. Ramos, PGIN-CMO